Your Business is Your Brand

Patagonia’s “Don’t Buy This Jacket” Campaign

In 2011, Patagonia’s CEO, Yvon Chouinard, made a bold business decision that perfectly illustrates how business strategy (inside-out) can profoundly impact a brand (outside-in).

On Black Friday, traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year, Patagonia ran a full-page ad in The New York Times with a provocative headline: “Don’t Buy This Jacket.”

This counterintuitive move was rooted in Patagonia’s core business philosophy of environmental responsibility.

The ad detailed the environmental costs of producing one of their best-selling jackets and urged consumers to consider the impact of their purchases.

It was a business decision that prioritized long-term sustainability over short-term profits. This campaign was not a superficial marketing ploy or a clever communication hack.

Instead, it manifested in Patagonia’s deeply ingrained business philosophy and operational practices.

The campaign was the tip of an iceberg of comprehensive sustainability initiatives, including using recycled materials, implementing fair labour practices, and investing in regenerative agriculture.

It reflected fundamental, tangible changes in how Patagonia designed, manufactured, and sold its products.

Inside-out, this decision aligned perfectly with Patagonia’s values and operational focus on reducing environmental impact. It influenced product development, supply chain management, and employee culture.

Outside-in, the campaign resonated deeply with consumers, reinforcing Patagonia’s brand as a company that truly walks the talk on environmental issues.

It differentiated Patagonia in a crowded market, attracted environmentally conscious customers, and paradoxically drove sales in the long run.

This depth of commitment distinguishes true brand-building from mere marketing exercises.

It demonstrates that an authentic brand emerges from the core of a company’s business strategy and operations, not from its advertising campaigns.

Patagonia’s approach shows how a business decision rooted in core company values and strategy can powerfully shape a brand.

It proves that your business is indeed your brand, with internal choices directly influencing external perceptions and customer loyalty.

By Paul Syng

Paul Syng is a multi-disciplinary designer based in Toronto. He focuses on a problem-seeking, systems thinking approach that can take any form or function.