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What Is Guerrilla Marketing? 7 Examples to Inspire Your Brand

The word “guerrilla,” in its written form, seems very intense. It conjures images of rebellion and conflict. Put it next to the word “marketing,” and it makes a lot of people ask, “Huh?”

But guerrilla marketing isn’t some sort of combative form of communication. After all, that would be highly disruptive, which violates the inbound methodology. In fact, it’s actually a very unconventional form of inbound marketing, in that it raises brand awareness among large audiences, without interrupting them.

Because it’s so unconventional, however, it’s not the easiest concept to explain. Guerrilla marketing is often best understood when it’s observed, so that’s how we’re going to approach its best practices and takeaways here.Get our "event in a box" essential event marketing kit here.

We’ll start with some basics around where it came from and how it works, followed by an examination of how it’s been carried out successfully.

What Is Guerrilla Marketing?
Roots of Warfare

When we hear the term “guerrilla marketing,” it’s hard not to think of guerrilla warfare — which makes sense, since that’s where this style of marketing got its name. In the warfare context, guerrilla tactics depend largely on the element of surprise. Think: “Ambushes, sabotage, raids,” according to Creative Guerrilla Marketing.

But how does that translate into the work we do every day? In marketing, guerrilla techniques mostly play on the element of surprise. It sets out to create highly unconventional campaigns that catch people unexpectedly in the course of their day-to-day routines. You’ll see what that looks like in some the examples below.

The term itself was created in the early 1980s by the late business writer Jay Conrad Levinson, who wrote several books about guerrilla tactics in a number of professional areas. Of course, at that time, marketing in general looked very different, and while guerrilla marketing is still used today, the ever-growing digital landscape is changing what it looks like. Again — you’ll see what that looks like in some of the examples below.

Budget-Friendly

What marketers really enjoy about guerrilla marketing is its fairly low-cost nature. The real investment here is a creative, intellectual one — its implementation, however, doesn’t have to be expensive. Michael Brenner summarizes it nicely in his article on “guerrilla content,” where he frames this style of marketing in the same context as repurposing your existing content, like taking certain segments of a report, and expanding each one into a blog post. It’s an investment of time, but not money, per se.

In a way, guerrilla marketing works by repurposing your audience’s current environment. Evaluate it, and figure out which segments of it can be repurposed to include your brand.

Types of Guerrilla Marketing

As niche as it might seem, there are actually a few sub-categories of guerrilla marketing, as outlined by the firm ALT TERRAIN:

Outdoor Guerrilla Marketing. Adds something to preexisting urban environments, like putting something removable onto a statue, or putting temporary artwork on sidewalks and streets.

Indoor Guerilla Marketing. Similar to outdoor guerrilla marketing, only it takes place in indoor locations like train stations, shops, and university campus buildings.

Event Ambush Guerilla Marketing. Leveraging the audience of an in-progress event — like a concert or a sporting game — to promote a product or service in a noticeable way, usually without permission from the event sponsors.

Experiential Guerilla Marketing. All of the above, but executed in a way that requires the public to interact with the brand.

We know — without context, the whole idea of guerrilla marketing can be a little confusing, so let’s see how it’s been executed by a few other brands.

7 Guerrilla Marketing Examples to Inspire Your Brand
1) Bounty
bounty02.jpg
Source: TOXEL.COM

Here’s a fun fact about your neighborhood marketing blogger: I. Spill. Everything. Coffee? Check. Olive oil? You got it. Generally, I am simply a mess, and like to have paper towels nearby at all times.

Naturally, I couldn’t help but be impressed by this guerilla marketing installment from paper towel company Bounty. By installing life-sized “messes” throughout the streets of New York — a giant, knocked over coffee cup and a gigantic melting popsicle — the brand found a unique way to advertise its product and the solution it provides, with minimal words.

You might ask, “Wouldn’t a concise billboard ad accomplish the same thing?” Well, not really. Culturally, we’re starting to opt for every possible way to eradicate ads from our lives. That’s why we love things like DVR and ad-free options on streaming services like Hulu and YouTube. This campaign, unlike an ad, isn’t as easy to ignore. After all, if you stumbled upon a melting popsicle the size of your mattress on your way to work, would you stop and look? We would.

The big takeaway: Identify the biggest problem that your product or service solves. Then, find an unconventional way to broadcast that to the public — preferably without words.

2) The GRAMMYS

Okay, this one might not be entirely fair, since it wasn’t pulled off “in real life.” But how cool would it be if it was? To promote the nominees for its Album Of The Year category, the GRAMMYS music awards show created a video to show what would happen if posters for the nominated artists just began singing.

It might sound impossible to actually carry out something like that. But imagine — what if you could create musical posters for your brand? Again, it’s different than a billboard ad, because when we walk by a wall of paper advertisements in, say, New York City, we don’t expect them to start moving. Now, we’ll admit that this idea isn’t exactly a budget friendly one, as it might require some technical work to bring to fruition. But even if you could include a single moving or digital image among a sea of still ones — in a place where it would come as a surprise, like a brick wall — it would catch people off guard and, therefore, get their attention.

The big takeaway: Think about the things that your audience might just pass by every day — and make those things do something that’s both unexpected and interactive.

3) Frontline
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Source: Marketing Ideas 101

When I first saw this photo, I’ll admit that I fell for it. “Someone, get that dog away from those flies!” I frantically thought. Then, I realized that the dog wasn’t real, and neither were the flies. The former was a photo, and the latter were actually humans.

That’s because Frontline, the makers of flea and tick prevention products for dogs, were able to fill the entire floor of this large, public space with this image. The brand knew that many people walk across that space every day, and that a good number of people would also see it from the building’s upper levels, creating the dog-and-insect illusion. It’s hard to miss — and to not look twice.

Again, this campaign is different than traditional marketing, because it’s not just plastering a single message somewhere that’s likely to be ignored. It creates a form of accidental human interaction that reminds the viewer what the product does.

The big takeaway: Figure out how humans might involuntarily interact with your marketing messages. While your product or service may not address the issue of, say, insect removal, there are ways to make people part of the campaign.

4) Burger King
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Source: seventeen

Breaking up is hard to do in person, let alone when it’s publicly played out online. That’s what happened — allegedly — when one Instagram user left a comment on this post sharing a tale of his “girl” procuring food from Burger King. There was just one problem. This guy does have a girlfriend, but she was nowhere near a Burger King. So, who was he referring to? The drama ensued, via Instagram comments:

BG_IG_Breakup.jpg

After the comments began to make headlines, many speculated that the entire exchange may have been staged by Burger King. And if it was, we can’t help but salute them — what a way to get your brand into the zeitgeist. Burger King has roughly one million followers on Instagram. Compare that to the 2.1 million followers of its chief competitor, McDonald’s. And while we’re not sure how many followers the former had before this famous breakup, it makes sense to assume that this at least drew more attention to its social media presence, at least on this particular platform. People may have already been observing the brand on Instagram, but before now, were they actively discussing it?

The big takeaway: Guerrilla marketing has gone digital. Think about where your audience already exists digitally — then, give ’em a show. While we can’t condone lying, we can applaud creativity, so don’t be afraid to use the comments to get people talking.

5) UNICEF

I’m as guilty as anyone of wasting money on bottled water. I have no excuse. I have a reusable one. My workplace offers filtered water from a machine, not a traditional cooler, and yet, it remains a bad habit.

That’s why this guerrilla marketing campaign from relief organization UNICEF resonated with me. It posed the question, “What if those bottles of water you waste money on were filled with dirty water?” It was a way of reminding the privileged masses that in too many parts of the world, entire populations have no access to clean drinking water.

So instead of frivolously spending that money on bottled water, UNICEF suggested putting it toward efforts to bring clean drinking water to these areas. It did so by creating makeshift vending machines that sold bottled dirty water, with each button labeled as a disease caused by a lack of clean drinking water.

The big takeaway: Guerrilla marketing works in the not-for-profit sector, too. And while scary, saddening images are often an impactful way of communicating your mission, there’s a way to convey it by creating something less in-your-face and interactive for the public.

6) GoldToe
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Source: ALT TERRAIN

Are you an underwear company looking for an unconventional way to market your product? Why, just try placing an enormous pair of briefs on an iconic charging bull statue.

Really, we can’t make this stuff up.

It’s so simple, in theory, that it sounds like fiction. But when the GoldToe brand needed a way to tease and promote the launch of its new undergarments, that’s exactly what it did — casually placed these new items of clothing on statues throughout New York. And while we can’t be sure that it’s the route GoldToe took, we sincerely hope that those bull-sized briefs were made with leftover manufacturing fabric, helping to make this campaign even budget-friendlier.

The big takeaway: Don’t overthink it. Sometimes what looks like your silliest idea might be the best one.

7) Greene King

When you make plans to catch up with friends and family, what are the two things around which you inevitably gather? We’ll take a stab at guessing:

Food
Drink

When pub and brewing company Greene King feared that small, neighborhood establishments — notably, the pub — would start to be overtaken by large corporate retail, it launched a campaign to communicate just how important these local businesses really are. Even better, the content was almost entirely created by those who understand this predicament best: Pub owners, bartenders, and patrons.

These individuals were given cameras to capture video of the most meaningful moments and gatherings they’ve experienced inside these local pubs — from weddings, to funeral receptions, to birthdays. These videos were shared on Greene King’s YouTube profile and posed the question, “Without these neighborhood meeting places, where would we share these moments?”

The big takeaway: It’s okay to get a little sentimental with guerilla marketing. Think about the emotions invoked by what you offer. Then, invite your audience to create content around what your brand means to them.

Guerrillas in the Wild

Starting to make a little more sense?

When we set out to write this post, we were disappointed with just one element of it — we found virtually no B2B examples. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible within that sector. It just requires extra creativity.

Hopefully, you’ll be inspired by these examples, especially if you’re promoting a smaller brand. Don’t be afraid to crowdsource the content for these campaigns, for example — after all, it’s creative approaches to your work that help maintain guerrilla marketing’s budget-friendly, inbound nature. Remember: Catch people where they are, and insert your brand there. Don’t interrupt, but invite them to participate.

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Read more: blog.hubspot.com

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Can An Heiress Be Self-Made? Paris Hilton Thinks So

Welcome to Refinery29’s weeklong exploration of women and greed in an era of enormous wealth inequality. Where does need end and greed begin? Read on.

Last month, Paris Hilton found herself in a familiar position, standing in front of a crowd of goading paparazzi decked out in bejeweled sunglasses and a shiny silver mini dress. But the conversation they were having was certainly not familiar to those who may think they know the heiress: “President Trump is going to sign the executive order to help the immigrants,” a voice yells out to her amidst the incessant pop of camera flashes. “Do you think that’s going to help?”

Hilton, who’s been the subject of paparazzi lust for almost two decades, is quick with an outspoken opinion: “He better help them, because this is not right what they’re doing to these children and their families … No one should be separated from their family. I’m disgusted,” she replies, turning her head to the side, revealing the weighty gold Gucci logo emblazoned on the arms of her glasses. She doesn’t stop signing autographs, but then looks directly into the camera and tells the world (or perhaps it’s her former family friend, Donald Trump, for whom she voted and to whom she is primarily speaking): “People come to America for the American Dream.”

This is TMZ’s contribution to the national debate over Trump’s family separation policy, and it feels both like a throwback to the tabloid-fueled chintziness of aughts-era Hollywood and a moment that could only occur in 2018. It is a surreal exchange for a litany of reasons, not least because of our collective understanding of who the woman in the sunglasses talking about immigration is: Paris Hilton is an icon not just of the 2000s, but of a certain widely held image of what inherited wealth, undeserved fame, and American excess looks like. There was her reality show The Simple Life, which followed Hilton and then-BFF Nicole Richie as they abandoned their lives of leisure to go live and work alongside “regular” Americans. Then there was also the numerous film and TV appearances, the singing career, the product lines, and the constant coverage by tabloids and early blogs. Through all this she crafted a persona — and, according to our conversation with her, that’s exactly what it was — of a spoiled, air-headed, platinum blonde princess, complete with the fake baby voice and sugary pseudo-sexuality that implies.

“I just got stuck with that character because people don’t know me in real life or haven’t spoken to me,” Hilton tells Refinery29. “They assume it’s just the baby voice and you know, ‘what’s Walmart?’ and silly things. I would say that’s not really how I am, but I was just trying to be entertaining for television.”

At 37, she’s been in and out of the spotlight for nearly two decades, and seems to be emerging now with a concerted effort to shake the image of the prodigal rich girl. How much it’s actually worked is in the eye of the beholder. “I think now I’ve really proven myself,” she argues. “With the success of my fragrances, then all my other 19 product lines, and all the big deals I’m doing, and real estate. I’m finally being taken seriously as a businesswoman and empire.”

While her grandfather donated 97 percent of his fortune to charity when he died in 2007, Paris currently has an estimated net worth of around $300 million. Her perfume empire alone is worth an estimated $1.5 billion. That it’s taken this long for Hilton to feel that she’s earned it says as much about the magnitude of her ambitions as it does about our fascination with money and how those who have it behave. Hilton was arguably the first person to turn her mere privileged existence into a lucrative career, a model copied today by many, but most famously mastered by Kim Kardashian (Paris’ old right hand) and her sisters. This year alone, Hilton released her 24th fragrance, launched a skincare line, and premiered a show on Viceland — of all places — where she examines the lives of young people attempting to “make it” in Hollywood. She also still DJs for nightly fees that, in 2014, were reported to be as high as $1 million per night, and dropped a new single titled “I Need You” earlier this year, though unfortunately it failed to live up to the success of her 2006 cult hit “Stars Are Blind.”

Yes, I came from Hilton hotels, but I’ve parlayed it into such a huge business that even my grandfather said to me, ‘I used to be known as Barron Hilton. Now I’m known as Paris Hilton’s grandfather.’

For all of today’s conversations about the spectrum of privilege and where certain people get placed on it, America either loves, or loves to hate, rich people. (Bonus points if they’re beautiful women with recognizable last names.) In thinking about Hilton, it’s hard not to call to mind another very privileged, very ambitious young woman: Ivanka Trump. In addition to being friends since childhood, both have monetized their moneyed backgrounds and our hunger for a piece of their world to sell a watered-down, mass-produced version of luxury. Paris’s numerous fragrances, like Ivanka’s now-defunct clothing line, are much less valuable because of the products themselves as they are because of the names behind them.

Hilton herself seems to understand this, saying of her new scent: “I really, I really want it to represent me and have my fans have a piece of me.” Nevermind that it smells like one of 2018’s least popular scents (roses), and has aggressively ignored the minimalist, millennial-friendly packaging her celebrity peers have adopted — Hilton’s confidence in her product reflects a confidence that rich-bitch wealth will always be relevant.

Indeed, even as her own star power has waxed and waned, the enormity of her legacy has come into focus: She is there in the fashion influencers filling your feed with their spon con. She is there among the stars of various reality television franchises, as they fling insults and beverages about on national TV. She is there among the socialite-turned-DJs-turned-fashion-designers that populate the most rarefied corners of the world, like Harley Viera-Newton and Alexa Chung.

“Ever since I was a teenager, I wanted to be independent. I didn’t want to have to ask my family for anything,” Hilton explains of her attitude toward money and privilege. “Yes, I came from Hilton hotels, but I’ve parlayed it into such a huge business that even my grandfather said to me, ‘I used to be known as Barron Hilton. Now I’m known as Paris Hilton’s grandfather.’”

When asked about the recent controversy surrounding Forbes magazine’s designation of Kylie Jenner, whom Hilton has known since birth, as “self-made,” she was adamant that she agrees with that characterization — and feels it applies to herself as well. “I think of myself and anyone who does business as being self-made. Everything I’ve done, I’ve done on my own, and yes, I do come from a last name, but there also are many children I know that come from families who, you know, take the choice of not doing anything with their lives.”

“I think of myself and anyone who does business as being self-made.

“I work harder and travel more than any CEO I’m friends with,” she continued. “The same with Kylie. I think any woman who is going to get into business and be an entrepreneur and make a big name and brand for themselves, they are self-made.”

Indeed, Hilton and Jenner probably do work harder and travel more than any CEO. Because while a traditional CEO is responsible for a particular product, what Hilton and Jenner are selling is more ephemeral and all-encompassing. The CEO of L’Oreal or MAC doesn’t have to prove that their entire existence is consistent with and can be distilled into a $30 lip kit or a $20 perfume. Perhaps the fact that this is a real career path is a small part of the reason why the American Dream to which Hilton refers in the video increasingly feels like just that — a hallucination from another plane of consciousness. If the American Dream, a flawed premise in and of itself, is about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, what Hilton and Jenner have done is more like standing for a long period of time in Louboutins. It’s impressive, but you had to have the $1,000 down payment to get there.

Paris Hilton is not self-made, of course. But it’s not hard to imagine how people like Hilton, Jenner, and Kardashian — who recently echoed a sentiment similar in an interview with Refinery29 — are able to conceive of themselves as such. They are indeed a different breed from those born into immense privilege who make no attempt to move forward on the opportunities afforded to them. Hilton’s hustle is impressive, but it doesn’t make her self-made in the way that someone like Cardi B or Rihanna is. You can be hard-working and break barriers without being able to define yourself as self-made.

Hilton’s legacy is a complicated one predicated not just on a cultural obsession with rich girls, but on a sexist desire to tear apart and vilify them in a way that rarely occurs with men of similar means. Why are we so obsessed with the Kardashian sisters and not the Brant brothers?

When we spoke to Hilton over the phone, she sounded cool and self-assured. She has, in case you were weren’t aware, dropped the infamous little girl voice. Surprisingly though, like many who came of age in an era before smartphones and social media and celebrities with teams of people meticulously crafting every inch of their facades, she also holds a degree of nostalgia for that more freewheeling time. “I can’t imagine if I had social media back then,” she confesses, imagining how much more difficult her fame would have been to cultivate.

“I didn’t have all these tools. I didn’t have an agent, no publicist, no manager. I’m going out in public and just being myself and everyone used to say like, ‘Oh my God, famous for being famous’ and like it was almost a bad thing, but now I feel like it’s a whole new formula that has really inspired this whole new generation.”

Despite this, Hilton boasts 9.3 million followers on Instagram, and 17.2 million on Twitter. There are fan accounts out there dedicated not just to her, but to her pets. She’s not Kim Kardashian, who has 114 million Instagram followers, nor is she of the mold of Chrissy Teigen and Busy Phillips, two celebrities beloved for their highly relatable social media content. But people don’t follow Paris Hilton for the great content she’s going to post. They follow her because she’s Paris Hilton.

Critics have said that The Simple Life, the premise of which was dreamed up by Fox execs, functioned to mock the denizens of the small towns it featured, but one could just as easily argue that Hilton and Richie were the butt of the joke. It also flattened Hilton into the one-dimensional character that it appears the “real” her has spent the past decade struggling to emerge from. It is unavailable for streaming on any of the major sites, but exists in perpetuity on YouTube. What is supremely ironic about Hilton and her attempt to return to the spotlight is that the thing that initially beamed her into our living rooms was that she was such an effective agent in showcasing the great American class divide, a massive crater which has only widened in the decade following.

Indeed, Paris Hilton is truly not self-made. But more than her family’s wealth or her well-known last name, we made her.

While Twitter didn’t exist back then, tabloids and early blogs did, and as Hilton’s star rose, so too did the level of scrutiny placed on her. In 2004, just as Hilton was about to become a household name, her ex-boyfriend Rick Salomon released a pornographic video of her. Today, the video would be understood as revenge porn, but back then, it was somehow understood as attention-seeking on Hilton’s part. In The American Meme, a 2018 documentary she appeared in, she compared the ordeal to being raped and said she “literally wanted to die.” While illicit celebrity tapes still exist and get leaked, it’s thankfully no longer socially acceptable (in most places, at least) to slut-shame the women victimized by them. If anything, thanks to the ability of the internet to magnify a more diverse range of voices, people are quick to call out such injustices with hackers serving jail time.

“It’s incredible what is happening right now with this movement,” Hilton says of contemporary feminism. “I think women can take over the world. Even though there’s been so many awful things that have happened and scary things, it’s really just changed the whole climate, and what people know women are capable of.”

But there’s a big caveat: We know the capabilities of some women, the ones who have been provided with the advantages necessary to show us what they can do. Which is maybe why Hilton’s rebranding as a serious business woman feels complicated at best. What’s surprising, though, is that even now, her understanding of a concept like being self-made still seems so limited.

Nevertheless, critics would do well to remember that Hilton wouldn’t have become famous if we hadn’t wanted her to be. Indeed, Paris Hilton is truly not self-made. But more than her family’s wealth or her well-known last name, we made her.

And to hear her tell it, she’s grateful: “I feel so proud of my fanbase and how loyal they are. The relationship I have with my fans, they’re like my family. They call themselves the Little Hiltons, it’s such a loyal fanbase. They really can relate with me.”

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

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Pete Davidson’s Proposal To Ariana Grande Was So HIGHlariously On Brand!

People go to all sorts of lengths for magical proposals.

If this story is true, it sounds like Pete Davidson asked Ariana Grande to marry him like he was deciding to order a pizza! LOLz!

Related: Pete Scrubbed His Instagram Feed After Fan Attack

The Saturday Night Live performer did a surprise standup comedy gig for charity at A.V. Zogg Middle School in Liverpool, New York on Saturday.

Apparently the act included a Q&A section in which someone asked how he popped the question.

One attendee tweeted:

I just went to see Pete Davidson do stand up and he said he proposed to Ariana while he was smoking weed in bed
— carly (@carlyanz7) July 22, 2018

“Smoking weed in bed.”

Is there is a more Pete Davidson way to get engaged?? Well, maybe being told he’s getting married and going, “OK.” LOLz!

Obvi we have no idea if he was just kidding, but we’re curious to hear the couple eventually tell the story!

[Image via Instagram.]

Read more: perezhilton.com

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Brand Patagonia: A Founders Story And Strategy

Brand Patagonia: A Founders Story And Strategy

In April 2017, the authors of Legacy In The Making visited me at Patagonia’s headquarters, in Ventura, California, to talk about the legacy I’m building as the founder of Patagonia. We talked about a lot of things, some of which I’d never spoken about before. Afterward, when they asked me if I’d share some of those insights and stories in the foreword to their book and I made it clear: I never wanted to be a conventional businessman. I liked climbing rocks, not corporate ladders.

“Exactly,” they responded. “That’s why we asked you.”

It’s true. I never set out to be a businessman. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about business with Chouinard Equipment and Patagonia, the two outdoor outfitters I founded. But I’m a creature of the 1960s. I never liked authority. I was a rock climber. Back when I started climbing at the age of 19, the gear was poor quality. The pitons—the metal spikes you drive into cracks—were made of soft iron and were designed to be used once and left in place. The attitude back then was about dominating the mountains, conquering them and leaving all your gear behind to make it easier for the next party. I didn’t share that attitude. I had a different ambition.

I wanted to climb without leaving a trace so that the next party and every party after that could experience the climb as I had—in its natural state. To do that, I needed a new kind of piton that you could remove and reuse over and over as you ascended. Since nothing like that existed at the time, I decided to design it myself. I bought an old coal-fired forge from a junkyard, built a small shop in my parents’ backyard, taught myself how to blacksmith, and began making my own high-quality reusable pitons. They were the first of their kind, designed for a new style of climbing. I called my fledgling company Chouinard Equipment.

Initially, I was just a craftsman making climbing gear for myself and my friends. But I happened to be pretty good at it, and pretty soon I was selling gear to friends of friends out of the back of my car (whenever I wasn’t surfing or climbing, that is). That evolved into making better crampons—the metal spikes on climbing boots—and better ice axes. With climbing, the better the tool, the better your chance of coming home in one piece. The quality of the materials and design—how the tool actually functioned in the field—was everything. People noticed, and by 1970 Chouinard Equipment had become the largest supplier of climbing equipment in the United States.

At that time, we were on the cutting edge of climbing. Some of the climbs we were doing in Yosemite National Park were harder than any rock climbs ever done in the world. Being on the cutting edge meant that we were not following the market. We weren’t waiting for customers to tell us what to make. For example, when I started coming out with new tools for ice climbing, people had no idea how to use them, and so I began writing a book about it. The Austrians and Germans had different techniques than the French and the Scottish. I ran around the world and studied all the different techniques so that I could bring everything together in one unified method.

In 1970, on my way home from climbing in Scotland, I bought a rugby shirt—a blue one with yellow and red stripes. Functionally, I thought it would be a great climbing shirt. It had a tough collar so that the gear slings wouldn’t cut your neck and rubber buttons that wouldn’t rip off. At that time, American sportswear was basically gray sweatpants and sweatshirts. That was it. There was no colored sportswear for men. Yet all of a sudden, here I was, wearing this really colorful shirt, and people were saying, “Wow, where’d you get that?” That was when we decided to start selling our own.

Our colors got pretty outrageous, but they also served a function. When you spend days suspended on a “big wall” climb or weeks stormbound in a tent, it’s tough on your psyche. You want colorful clothes just for your own mental health.

We sold a lot of those rugby shirts. By 1973, we had launched a new brand, Patagonia, to focus on our growing clothing business. Unlike Chouinard Equipment (which we eventually sold to a group of employees who launched a brand called Black Diamond), we knew nothing about the established clothing industry when we started Patagonia. Zero. Conventional fashion designers take a mannequin, wrap cloth around it, pin it here and there, and create a dress. But our background was in designing lifesaving climbing gear, not fashion, and so we looked at clothes as tools.

Before we designed any new piece of clothing—whether it was an alpine jacket, a pair of socks, or a bikini—we always started by asking about function. What problem were we trying to solve? How would the product be used, not just worn? Which features would it need, and which would it not need? It’s like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said: “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” In retrospect, I think that is our biggest contribution to the clothing business: treating clothes as tools and applying the principles of industrial design.

When you approach products as tools that serve a function, it forces you to pare things down to their essence. Just look around. Complexity is easy. The world is full of complex, disposable junk. Simplifying things, though—designing quality tools that last—now, that’s hard.

More than 60 years after I forged that first removable piton, we still approach everything we make just as I did in the beginning— as a simple, functional tool. The best tool for whatever your ambition is. As my ambition was to make better gear for the things I loved to do, my companies were the tools I used to achieve that ambition. But as your ambitions evolve, as mine would before long, so must your tools.

Finding Our Way Back To The Real Patagonia

As the years have passed and Patagonia has grown, so have the brand’s responsibilities. These days, we behave as if we want to be in business a hundred years from now. This is reflected in our mission statement: “Make the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” The mission statement is a tool, too. Like a compass, its function is to orient our brand culture and keep it moving in the right direction. But Patagonia didn’t always work this way.

In the early years, I ran the business like every other company. Just running it for the sake of getting larger and larger, doing everything that normal companies do. By the 1980s, we were taking off: opening new dealers, developing our own retail stores, and growing about 50 percent a year. You can’t grow like that for very long before you end up in financial trouble. It’s just impossible.

In 1990, the American economy went into recession. After years of growing just for the sake of growing, our sales suddenly hit a wall. The banks got into financial trouble, and so did we. We couldn’t borrow enough money to cover inventory, and we nearly lost the business. For the first time in our history, we had to lay people off—20 percent of our entire staff. Those people were like family, and the impact on our brand culture was a wake-up call. After we had been preoccupied with growth for years, our brand was adrift. Not only did we have to reassess our growth plans, we had to reassess who we were and who we wanted to be.

That was when I took our key managers—about 10 or 12 of us—and we all went down to Argentina, to the real Patagonia. We hiked around, sat down, and asked ourselves why we were in business and what we expected to get out of this. We asked each person why he or she was working for us. Though my ambition had always been to build the best tools, it was during this trip that we discussed our values:

• Make the highest-quality products.
• Consider the environmental impact of everything we do.
• Engage and support our communities.
• Contribute a portion of our sales to philanthropy.

No one said a word about profit.

Once we had collected everyone’s thoughts, we established our brand values by consensus. I’ve always believed in making decisions by consensus as opposed to compromise. Compromise is what the government does. Compromise never solves a problem. Compromise leaves both sides feeling cheated. Consensus is how Native American tribes historically made decisions, and it was the chief ’s job to build consensus. That’s been my role: to set the general direction we’re going in and to get our employees to buy in.

After we got back from our trip to Patagonia, I started leading weeklong seminars to teach our employees about the values that would guide our brand culture moving forward. I wanted everyone to be empowered to make day-to-day decisions that were based on those values rather than always waiting for instructions from the boss. Years later, in 2005, I published everything—my ambition, our history, our growth crisis, our values—in Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman. Like those recyclable pitons, I didn’t publish the book to get rich. I did it because as a reluctant businessman, I had learned an important lesson about business: Regardless of what you sell, your business itself—including your culture and your values—is your product. If we could inspire more values-based businesses, our society and environment would be a lot better off.

Let My People Go Surfing is still selling all over the world. They teach it in high schools, and it’s been printed in 9 or 10 languages—all because people see the Patagonia brand as a different model. We’re not alone in our beliefs. Brands with long-term ambitions and strong values-driven cultures are increasingly demonstrating that profits and purpose aren’t mutually exclusive.

Lasting Brands Move People, Not Just Goods

I’ve always been an advocate for social and environmental causes, but I don’t like being on the front lines. I get too frustrated. Instead, I’ve learned how to use business to effect change. We follow our beliefs, our customers follow us, and positive change tends to follow that. People who believe in what we’re doing gravitate to our message. They become our advocates. That’s why our marketing philosophy is so simple: We tell people who we are and what we do. That’s it. Fiction is so much more difficult to write than nonfiction.

For us, marketing isn’t about moving goods. It’s about moving people. For example, in 2011 we ran a print ad on Black Friday that said, “Don’t buy this jacket.” We sold so many of those jackets! That wasn’t the intent. The intent was to encourage people to reflect on what they buy and to buy only what they need. The best thing you can do for the environment as far as clothing goes is to buy the very best quality, use it as long as possible, and keep it out of the landfill. Repair it. Reuse it. Recycle it.

That Black Friday campaign forced us to make a pact with our customers: If you buy one of our jackets, we’ll repair it forever. If you outgrow it or stop using it, we’ll help you sell it to somebody else. Eventually we’ll take it back and melt it down into more jackets. It forced us to build the largest garment repair facility in North America. In fact, we have a truck that goes around to colleges and teaches kids how to sew buttons on. We’ll repair any of their clothes, not just ours. We practice business this way because our customers are our loyal sales force, and they pay far more attention to good deeds than to lofty words.

For our 2016 Black Friday campaign, we decided to give all the revenue away to environmental causes. Not just the profits. All of our revenue that day. As a result, our sales quadrupled, from $2.5 million the previous year to over $10 million for Black Friday 2016. We gave away all $10 million—in addition to the $9 million contribution we made that same year in line with our annual commitment to contribute 1 percent of our sales to charity. Philanthropic campaigns like this don’t cut into our sales. In fact, 60 percent of our customers from these campaigns are new. Just think about how much it costs most companies to get new customers. The social media aspect of this campaign cost us nothing. We let the word out, and in turn, our customers helped spread the word for us.

At the end of the year, we measure success by how much good we’ve done and what impact we’re having on society, not by profit. Honestly, if you ask me how much money we’ve made in the last year, I would have to look it up. I know that we are extremely profitable. I also believe in karma. Karma and profits coexist here because every time we’ve made a decision in service of doing good, our customers have noticed. And when our customers get behind us, more good things follow.

Write Your Own Rules, Don’t Master Someone Else’s

I know it’s unorthodox to be guided by both karma and profits, but that’s just one of many ways we break the rules of business these days. I think of Patagonia less as a conventional brand selling products than as an experiment, an evolving means of using business to solve social problems.

If you look around and see who’s working here, we all have degrees in subjects such as anthropology, zoology, and English. Only a few of us actually have degrees in business. We’re all learning how to run a business by asking lots of questions and approaching things as beginners. We’re successful because we have the confidence to write our own rules rather than master someone else’s.

Maybe that’s why we’re comfortable being a guinea pig and trying new things. We’re making healthy food and producing films about society’s impact on the natural world. We’re even thinking about starting an immersive nature school for kids. As unconventional as these programs may sound, all of them are firmly rooted in our ambitions and values. Ultimately, the next generation won’t care about nature if they don’t think they’re part of it. So while our values haven’t changed, the way we choose to express those values to new generations of customers is always evolving.

At Patagonia, it’s not that we’re just looking for ways to stand out for the sake of standing out. We behave differently because our ambitions are different. We also measure success differently—on the basis of long-term contributions, not short-term profits. When you chase short-term profits, you either keep doing what you already know will work or copy what someone else is doing. We don’t do that. When we stand out, it’s because we’ve found a new way to express our long-term ambitions.

In the mid-1990s, for example, we took a stand against chemically intensive cotton and began making all of our clothes with organic cotton. It was a challenge, and a lot of our manufacturing partners walked away from us, but we learned by doing and ultimately developed our own private cotton supply chain. Most people aren’t willing to jump right in like that. But that’s the way I like to deal with everything. Most people want to figure things out to the nth degree before they ever take a step. In the end, they won’t even take that step because it feels too unfamiliar. Not me. I immediately jump in and see how it feels. That’s how I know we’re on the cutting edge—when we step outside conventions and lead the market rather than follow it. This approach takes vision and perseverance, but it keeps us in a category of our own. As the saying goes, “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”

I was on a panel during the recent recession, and it was all surf industry CEOs and people like that. We all talked about our businesses, and I talked about how much effort we put into cleaning up our supply chain and trying not to cause unnecessary harm. One of the CEOs from one of the largest surf companies told me his company had been making a few organic cotton ball caps and T-shirts before the recession but had cut back when the economy slowed down.

I said, “How are your sales?” He said, “Well, we’re down about 25 percent.” Patagonia was up 30 percent. That company ultimately filed for bankruptcy. Today the surf industry is on the rocks, but we’re doing great because we’re riding our own wave.

The Secret To Lasting Is To Keep Playing Your Own Game

I’ve been in business for over 60 years. I’ve survived bad times. I’ve thrived in good times. I believe the secret to lasting is never sitting still. Some people see change as a threat. They hate it. I thrive on it, as does every ecosystem as well as every business that cares about its legacy in the making. I’m not talking about change for the sake of change. I’m talking about evolving and adapting as if you intend on being here a hundred years from now; it’s about never losing sight of where you came from or what inspired you in the first place.

Although we try to run Patagonia as if it’s going to be here a hundred years from now, I tell my employees that doesn’t mean we have a hundred years to get there. Continuous change requires a sense of urgency. That’s why my job these days is to combat complacency and instigate change. There’s a falconry term—yarak—that means super-alert, hungry, and ready to hunt. Along with our other leaders, one of my responsibilities is to keep the company in yarak.

The best way I keep us from sitting still is by using what I’ve learned to educate and inspire the next generation of leaders, which includes the following:

• Have an ambition to develop better tools.
• Growth can be toxic, though culture can be a tonic.
• Move people, not just products.
Be distinct in everything we do.
• Evolve and change to remain unique.
• Long-term values can guide quick decision-making every day.

As the authors of this book say, “The making of a legacy is personal, behavioral, influential, unconventional, and perpetual.” These lessons don’t expire, and through education they can transcend generations. So I share my story—as I have here—to pass my legacy forward for others to carry on.

The business world talks about the importance of long-term thinking in a short-term world. It’s true, though it’s never easy. Conventional business will fight you every step of the way. Long-term investments in programs such as our brand’s employee childcare center and our pollution standards always look negative on our financial ledger. But because we think long-term, we know we have responsibilities beyond our conventional bottom line. So do you. So does every great brand leader.

You may already believe that your culture is your product, not what you sell. You may also believe, like me, that companies shouldn’t exist simply to be sold for a profit and broken apart. Of course, this isn’t how conventional business works. Conventional business treats companies like fatted calves to be auctioned to the highest bidder in the shortest amount of time. It’s the American way. It starts when we’re young, when they say, “Okay, kids, line up on the starting line and let’s see who can run the fastest! Now line up over here, kids, and let’s see who can jump the highest!” That way of thinking produces one superhero and a bunch of losers. But, I wanted to do something different. I always have.

Growing up, I was as good as anybody at baseball and football and other sports. But when it came time to line up and perform for a crowd, I couldn’t do it. So I’ve been a climber, a kayaker, a falconer, a Telemark skier, a spear fisherman—all noncompetitive sports. All individual pursuits where your only competition is how high you set your personal ambitions.

That’s my advice to you as you build your legacy in the making: Invent your own game. Ask yourself what you hope to get out of this life, let that enduring ambition guide you, and if the right tools don’t exist to accomplish it, design your own tools. Be the only person who does what you do the way you do it. That way, you will always be the winner.

~Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Marc Miller and Lucas Conley with the permission of McGraw-Hill. Excerpted and adapted from Legacy in the Making: Building a Long-Term Brand to Stand Out in a Short-Term World

The Blake Project Can Help: Please email us for more about our purpose, mission, vision and values and brand culture workshops.

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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10 Summer Pieces I’m Eyeing From The Men’s Section

Overall, my style tends to be pretty frilly — ruffles, sheer fabrics, long skirts, bows, and florals are all mainstays in my wardrobe. But as I’m getting older, I’m realizing: Why should we commit to just one aesthetic? Just because I love a good midi dress or puffy-sleeved top doesn’t mean I can’t also dabble in, say, normcore — even if that means wearing clothing that’s more “masculine” than what I usually go for. So, in an effort to expand my look, I’m giving that whole dad-on-vacation look a try.

It just so happens that the best place to get these staples is straight from the men’s section (yes, it’s that easy). While some womenswear labels have reworked pieces like the chunky sandal, the fanny pack, and the graphic tee, attempting to make these ironically-trendy pieces actually trendy, if you want the best version of the items ahead (and that cool, oversized fit), we suggest going straight to the source.

Since it’s 2018 and all clothing should be fair game regardless of whether it’s designated as ‘men’s’ or ‘women’s,’ here are 10 pieces I’m borrowing from the boys — just because I can.

The Long-Sleeved Skater TeeWith bike shorts or denim cut-offs, this will become a vital part of your weekend uniform.

Jaw x Jaw Shop, $130, available at Tictail

Baggy ShortsTrust us: These will look sweet with a plain white tank or crop top.

The North Face, $35, available at Urban Outfitters

The Bucket HatShield the sun in the most stylish summer staple.

Acne Studios, $130, available at Acne Studios

Crew SocksSometimes you just need a good, thick sock for your Nikes or Vans slip-ons (or, if you’re really feeling the aesthetic, with a pair of pool slides).

Kith x Stance, $18, available at Kith

The Rain JacketBecause those summer storms are inevitable, and I refuse to buy another deli umbrella.

Noah, $988, available at Noah

Swim TrunksSheer muumuus are cool and all, but I would much rather throw on some striped trunks as a cover-up. Over a one-piece, it’s a look that can take you from the water to the bar with ease.

Onia, $145, available at Onia

The Fanny PackIf you still haven’t hopped on board, what are you waiting for? These hands-free life-savers are key for summer adventures.

Nicce, $28, available at ASOS

The Graphic T-ShirtForget that white Gucci logo tee everyone has; this one stands out in the crowd.

Gucci, $480, available at Mr. Porter

The Crewneck SweatshirtFor chilly beach sunsets and Friday nights in.

Outdoor Voices, $60, available at Outdoor Voices

Statement JeansIf we’re talking menswear, we’re talking Raf Simons, and as a fan of the 1981 film Christiane F., these jeans are the perfect excuse to go a little punk this summer. (And, yes, black jeans are a year-round staple).

Raf Simons, $947, available at MatchesFashion.com

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

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Kim Kardashian Says North West Speaks Her Mind ‘No Matter What’ Just Like Dad Kanye West!

Like father, like daughter!

On Tuesday, Kim Kardashian spoke to ET at her KKW Beauty and fragrance pop-up shop at Westfield Century City where she reveals how daughter North West is just like father Kanye West!

Related: Kim Can’t Fool North In Princess Jasmine Makeup!

The KUWTK star dished:

“She’s a Gemini, so she’s a little bit of both [me and Kanye West]… She definitely has Kanye’s outgoing personality and will say what’s on her mind no matter what it is and who it might offend… But then she’s sweet like me… So she’s a little bit of both.”

The cute five-year-old is also into fashion and beauty, just like mommy Kimmy!

“She really is into beauty… She loves hair looks, that’s her thing, and she loves a little bit of makeup.”

Last Friday, Miz West celebrated her birthday in New York, and before that, was gifted two Alexander Wang purses from the designer himself.

Although her daughter receives very expensive gifts, Kim says North “has no idea what they are,” and makes sure the tot stays grounded.

“What I do for her birthday, she gets gifts and then she has to be really good and earn the things and do her chores and walk her dog… We have a chore chart that she has to make her bed. She has so many things she has to do if she wants to get something, so she doesn’t really get a whole lot of stuff like you would think.”

Oh, and North also has to be nice to her siblings: Saint and Chicago West!

“It goes up and down… She definitely has been better since the little baby was here. Saint and Chicago’s relationship is so sweet that I don’t know what’s going to top that.”

It’s North’s world… we’re just living in it!

[Image via Kim Kardashian/Instagram.]

Read more: perezhilton.com