Biz Tips: How Patagonia Built a Cohesive Online Brand Identity — and How You Can Too

Biz Tips: How Patagonia Built a Cohesive Online Brand Identity — and How You Can Too


How Patagonia Built a Cohesive Online Brand Identity — and How You Can Too

How Patagonia Built a Cohesive Online Brand Identity — and How You Can Too

Image courtesy: Unsplash

In the social media era, it isn’t enough for your company to have slick ads or good deals. Consumers are looking for a company with values that they can identify with and makes them feel like they’re contributing to society. If you want to effectively find leads on social media, you need to appeal to their values. If they’re going to follow your company on social media, they want it to feel human and relatable.

Crafting a successful modern brand identity is a process filled with trial and error. However, by doing your research and following good examples, you can find a way to connect with your customer base like never before. In order to guide you through some of the most important steps, let’s look at the outdoor gear company Patagonia.

The company was founded in 1973 in California, splitting later into two separate entities in order to fend off bankruptcy: Black Diamond, which sold climbing gear, and Patagonia, which sold soft goods. The company prides itself on an inventive spirit, always looking for the best and most environmentally friendly way to manufacture its goods. It pioneered the use of organic cotton in the mid-‘90s. This spirit has been integral to making Patagonia stand out from both its competitors and as a company overall.

Given this short history, it may be easy to sketch the company’s leadership as college-educated hippies, protesting on the street corner for one environmental cause or another. Despite how the opposition might paint that, this is actually a good image to project. It’s a vibrant and specific identity for their customers to relate to. Patagonia doesn’t just talk like they want to save the planet; they constantly demonstrate how they’re taking steps to do it.

First, Do Your Research

The first step in crafting a brand identity as focused and relatable as Patagonia is to do your market research. You need to know what you’re selling and who you’re selling it to before you can decide how you want to sell it. If you’re worried about the overwhelming amount of research out there, take a deep breath and start with basic questions.

First, you should ask yourself who your customers are in order to bolster your SEO efforts and achieve market dominance in your specific niche. You should think about who would be most likely to engage with your company and then expand out from there. Try to understand your core demographic, but keep an eye out for the broader groups and age ranges that you could also target.

Once you’ve decided who you’re going to be interacting with, then you will need to know how they behave. You’ll want to know where your demographic spends the most of their time, what they’re doing in those places, and what tone they prefer when engaging with a brand. Knowing these details will take lots of research (and probably some trial and error), but the information you garner will be crucial in attracting the attention you need to run your company.

You can also use secondary research to supplement your own trial and error. This means looking at studies, research polls, and the white papers from your competitors. However, the bulk of the research you do should consist of your own studies and market surveys.

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Color Choice

After your market research, you will begin actually pulling together your marketing materials. How will you visually represent your brand? You will need to pay particular attention to things like font choice and color schemes.

Look at Patagonia’s logo and company typeface as an example. Their logo is what appears to be a mountain or rock-ridge surface in front of a series of sunset-inspired colors, with the company name set in a seemingly vintage typewriter font. To the casual viewer, this can subconsciously communicate a lot of things beyond just what the company sells.

There’s a mountain involved in the company’s imagery, which conveys the idea that the company sells something having to do with camping or outdoor activities. However, think about the specific colors that they’ve chosen: The use of a sunset motif makes the viewer think of long days outside, of the relaxation that comes from sitting by a campfire and watching the sunset, of the dedication required to see the star-filled sky in strange or remote places.

Patagonia crafts all of that with just a few colored lines because they tap into the psychological power behind color choice. It’s been proven that certain colors trigger different emotions or behaviors in people. For example, blue is soothing, green stimulates our appetite, and yellow makes us feel happier. So when you’re choosing color schemes for marketing materials, consider what connotations you’re trying to build with your brand.

Make Things Easy for Your Customers

Once you’ve attracted your key demographic as customers, you’ll need to make every step of their experience as seamless as possible. You don’t want all your hard work to have gone to waste because the website is confusing or the store layout doesn’t make sense. Again, we can turn to Patagonia as an example.

On their website, they have a variety of navigational options, but the biggest and easiest to understand is how to click through men’s clothing or women’s clothing. They also use clear imagery on the landing page of people wearing their clothes outdoors while having adventures. This seamlessly communicates to the user that if they click one of the main buttons on this page, they will be taken to outdoor clothing for either gender.

Creating a navigable and easy-to-use experience for your customers has been proven to not only improve customer retention but also bring in new business. Customers will love how simple it is to use your service, and they will return when they need things again. Good service may also encourage them to tell their friends about how easy everything is, improving word-of-mouth marketing.

You don’t want to undo everything you’ve researched and prepared by not also giving the time and energy needed to bring about the actual end result. By crafting a brand identity that not only makes bold claims about the things you’re passionate about, but also acts on those values, you can begin to build a company with loyal customers for life. The goal is to simply stay as true and steadfast to your values and your identity as you can.

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How Patagonia Built a Cohesive Online Brand Identity — and How You Can Too was originally published in Marketing And Growth Hacking on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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