Rick Ridgeway, VP of Environmental Initiatives at Patagonia on Strategic Brand Storytelling

There is perhaps no more an inspiring leader of the environmental movement than Rick Ridgeway of Patagonia. In his capacity as the VP of Environmental Affairs, he has been charged with implementing the company’s core mission that reads—‘build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.’

During his time at Patagonia, he has implemented vanguard environmental and sustainability initiatives including Freedom to Roam, Common Threads, and the Footprint Chronicles that have quite literally reinvented the way brands market themselves and hold themselves accountable to their own sustainability standards. Here’s a little about each of those initiatives and the strategy behind such storytelling:

1. Freedom To Roam: Started by Patagonia clothing company, Freedom to Roam is an initiative of WWF that works to raise awareness about – and commitment to – protecting wildlife corridors. We focus our efforts in two regions:

Northern Great Plains: Here pronghorn antelopes, 220 butterfly species, bison and golden eagles move through a landscape undergoing extraordinary natural gas exploration and development.

Eastern Himalayas: This region shelters increasingly fragmented swaths of intact forest that allow tigers, elephants and rhinos to find food and mates, and avoid human conflicts.

By celebrating and nurturing nature’s ecosystem, the brand identified itself as a servant leader committed to the well being of animals, humanity, and the planet earning Patagonia consumer goodwill, loyalty, and trust.

Rick Ridgeway, VP of Environmental Initiatives at Patagonia on strategic brand storytelling

2. Common Threads: This project was designed to reduce the impact of the things Patagonia makes and customers buy. Through their partnership with bluesign® Technologies they are reducing energy and water use and toxic substances in their manufacturing processes. They also use environmentally conscious fibers in many of their products, including organic cotton and recycled polyester, and try to minimize our packaging and transportation waste. Most importantly they make quality products that last a long time and, with proper care, won’t need to be replaced for many years. In so doing, Patagonia demonstrated its authentic commitment to the well being of the customer even at the expense of selling more clothes.

Rick Ridgeway, VP of Environmental Initiatives at Patagonia on strategic brand storytelling

3. Footprint Chronicles: The Footprint Chronicles® examines Patagonia’s life and habits as a company. The goal is to use transparency about our supply chain to help them reduce our adverse social and environmental impacts – and on an industrial scale. They’ve been in business long enough to know that when they can reduce or eliminate a harm, other businesses will be eager to follow suit. By taking this leadership role they bolstered their reputation and positioned the company as a brand for others to follow.

Rick Ridgeway, VP of Environmental Initiatives at Patagonia on strategic brand storytelling

Committed to scaling their impact, Rick also co-founded the Sustainable Apparel Coalition that holds all its members accountable to the same sustainability Higg Index and that has brought together competitors within and across industries, uniting them under a common commitment to create a sustainable future for the planet and ourselves.

Rick will be speaking about these strategies and more at the We First Brand Leadership Summit revealing the new role that business must play in order to drive success and remake our future. He will talk about the role that sustainability must play inside every company with respect to its supply chain, employee engagement, partnerships, consumers, and all stakeholders. Most importantly, Rick will speak directly to both the crisis and opportunity that business faces, and how we must work together as business leaders to meet the environmental crises we face with equal force and to build our businesses.

We are so appreciative to have Rick’s leadership, insights, and guidance at the We First Summit. If you would like to work with Rick and other global marketing leaders to build your social marketing plan for 2015, register now. The summit is only one week away and there are less than 10 spots left as the event is limited to 150 elite marketers. And remember every registration comes with a free ticket to invite your favorite non-profit so you can not only build your business but also help scale positive impact as well.