Patagonia Slays Its Own Corporate Monster

Our recent REI blog illustrated how true business rebels aren't afraid to slay their corporate monsters. To be clear, these unwieldy beasts aren't external market variables that negatively impact revenues. Rather, these monsters may actually be directly (and often significantly) driving dollars and profits to the company's bottom-line but somehow still simultaneously threaten an organization's core values and beliefs.  

For REI, the monster that warranted slaying was traditional Black Friday consumer practices that flew in the face of the outdoor specialty retailer's belief that people should spend their time, well, outdoors. Despite the promise of Thanksgiving Weekend sales, the company purposefully changed directions. Since 2015, REI has shut down all consumer outlets on Black Friday, encouraging shoppers to instead #OptOutside. 

For Patagonia, an outdoor apparel brand that operates in a parallel vertical to REI, the monster was a bit more expansive than a single shopping day. The outdoor apparel company had recognized a large (and potentially powerful) consumer demographic that was rapidly evolving into a formidable corporate monster – and it was wearing the Patagonia Nano Puff Vest.

In recent years, the brand realized that its Puff Vest had become a status symbol of sorts, not for outdoor advocates and adventurists, but for executives, brokers, and other titans of industry within the finance and tech verticals. Put simply, Patagonia's Puff Vest was being embroidered with corporate logos and handed out in copious quantities at company events, making the garment the power vest of the new millennium as well as synonymous with "finance bros."

Patagonia wasn't having it.

In 2019, the retailer made the admirable (albeit, not necessarily popular to some) decision to reevaluate its policies for selling garments in large quantities to corporate sales clients. Rather than sell in droves to finance and tech firms who may participate in initiatives that damage the environment, Patagonia mandated that moving forward, it would only sell to do-gooder B Corporations. While it isn't severing ties with existing partners, the brand is taking a more discerning look at new partnerships. Patagonia decided that the only enterprises allowed to purchase the company's customized "power vest" have to prove alignment with charitable efforts or a commitment to supporting, protecting, and improving community or global causes. 

Much like REI, Patagonia made the conscious decision to zig when other companies would have zagged (aka continue to focus more on bottom-line dollars instead of environmental protection). Yes, this move will eventually end the Puff Vest's current status as Silicon Valley "uniform," - but that’s precisely the point. By slaying this monster, Patagonia is proactively and effectively reclaiming its brand identity to better align with its core value system. 

Every industry has corporate monsters. What's yours? Contact REBEL & REASON today to learn more about successfully slaying what contradicts your business's beliefs and brand identity.

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