Homage to Patagonia

Laura Robertson

Patagonia approach their content the way they approach their products. They care about quality. And sustainability. And usefulness. And beauty. They haven’t paid me to write this; I just think they do content (among other things) really well.

​Patagonia content does more than convince and help customers to purchase products; it’s not just about completing a transaction – or about marketing the company. They use content to build relationships and to inform, educate and inspire.

​Here are some reasons why I love it:

1. It’s political and provocative

Patagonia have strongly held beliefs. And they’re not afraid to fight for them. Activism is baked into their model and therefore into their editorial strategy. So much so, that the Patagonia blog, The Cleanest Line, has an activism tag. They also campaign on social media, and in the real world too. And their business model exists to support their activism as much as vice versa.

The Protect Bears Ears campaign is a good example.

2. It’s strategic and specific

Patagonia are mission- not sales-driven and they use content strategically to help them achieve that mission. In 2011 they published a now iconic advert in the New York Times on Black Friday, telling people “Don’t Buy This Jacket”.

Another good example of this is the Worn Wear initiative. Patagonia insist that repair is a radical act and create content to help people extend the life of their stuff. On the Worn Wear site, Patagonia publish repair and care guides to help people keep their gear in play for longer and stories from customers about their well-worn and long-loved items.

This strategic use of user-generated content involves customers and encourages them to become owners. Where consumers “take, make, dispose and repeat, owners are empowered to take responsibility for their purchases—from proper cleaning to repairing, reusing and sharing”, says Rose Marcario, the CEO.

Patagonia know who their audience is. And they know what they want. They don’t try to create content for everyone. If you try and create content for everyone, the risk is that you create content for no one.

They use their in-depth understanding of their customers to produce content that people will relate to and engage with. Their sport-specific landing pages, like the ski and snowboard or surfing pages, are content marketing at its very best.

3. It’s engaging and inspiring

Patagonia’s content tells stories: about its products, about the people who create and use those products, and about the planet. They use stories to root their core business – making apparel – in the wider context of outdoor sport, the environment and the political landscape.

Charpoua, Mon Amour, an absorbing article about the guardian of a refuge in the Alps, is one of my favourites. And who knew that a jacket could have such an interesting story?

4. It’s useful and interesting

Patagonia’s content gives you the information you need, but it doesn’t stop there. It tells you really interesting stuff too.

A Patagonia product page includes all the usual useful things you’d expect: photos of the item, size, features, price. But also, where it’s come from and how to look after it.

5. It’s beautiful and rich

Patagonia’s content – both digital and print – is a feast for the eyes. They use high quality images, thoughtful typography and carefully crafted copy. It’s delightfully, but not overwhelmingly, rich in media. Homepage carousels get a bad rap these days, but Patagonia get away with it because the slides are so good.

6. It’s open and transparent

Patagonia aren’t scared to share their thinking, their processes and their supply chains. They use content to explain how and why they do things. If you’re interested in where their products come from, how they’re made and by whom, then those stories are readily available. And they tell them without being preachy or dull.

7. It’s modular and adaptable

Patagonia’s content is properly modular. Appropriate versions of the same content flex for different devices and different channels. The intelligent, holistic way that Patagonia approach their content is external proof of them respecting it and their customers. It’s also a tell-tale sign that they have excellent content processes behind the html.

8. It’s clear and consistent

The Patagonia voice, tone and editorial style is present in all their content, from their about page to their Instagram replies.

Where others’ content can sometimes seem like a mishmash created by a bunch of only loosely connected people, Patagonia content is reassuringly consistent. Patagonia’s personality isn’t overbearing, and it doesn’t get in the way of clarity, but it’s always there. Which makes me feel secure and connected. And more likely to buy their kit, or take action on their behalf.

9. It’s detailed and delightful

You can tell a lot about how much an organisation values its users from the effort they put into the details. Just look at the header of the Patagonia blog and their 404 page!

What’s your favourite website, and why? We keep a list of ours for inspiration, and we’re always keen to find quality gems to add. Let me know!

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