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

September 30, 2014 Comments

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.


Signposts From Big Brands: How to Rapidly Build Your Company in 2015

September 24, 2014 Comments

The web, social media, and smart phones have created a media landscape that is more fractured than ever. At the same time, they have facilitated a dialogue between companies and consumers that has led to new demands for authenticity, transparency, and accountability. As a result, smarter marketers and big brands are making three key strategic shifts:

1. Purpose is driving profit: Whether it’s a B2B company like IBM talking about how a better world is being ‘Made by IBM,’ or a small fast-casual restaurant chain like Chipotle stealing market share by promoting ‘Food with Integrity,’ it is clear that Boomers, Millennials, and Gen Z prefer brands doing good.

2. Futures need rewriting: Sometimes a strategic shift requires blunt action. CVS Caremark just banned the sales of tobacco products, renamed itself CVS Health, and launched a nationwide ‘Quit smoking’ campaign. Meanwhile, Axe deodorant owned by Unilever (who also makes Dove with its ‘Real Beauty’ campaign), shifted its marketing away from objectifying women to ‘Make love. Not war.’ Both demonstrated the need for a brand to reposition the company, products and marketing to respond to new business drivers.

3. Customers build brands: The rapid rise of GoPro and its very successful IPO turned on the fact that the brand was built by its customers sharing their videos, rather than by a slick ad campaign. The same can be said of the very successful ALS fundraising campaign that gave each participant a very demonstrative way to show their commitment and nominate other participants.

These are but three of the key strategic shifts that start-ups and high-growth companies must make to their marketing inspire employees, partners, and customers to build their business with them.

If you are interested in making the critical shifts that are needed for your brand’s success, we invite you to join us at this year’s We First Brand Leadership Summit on Oct 7-8 at the SLS Hotel, Beverly Hills. It’s a 2-day training event focused on how you tell the purposeful story of your brand in ways that build your business. Every attendee completes a Social Branding Blueprint at their event as their social marketing roadmap for 2015, so you walk out with real value in your hands. You create this plan with the help of a world-class line-up of experts including:

Signposts from big brands: How to rapidly build your company in 2015

Unilever – Marc Mathieu, SVP Marketing

The Coca-Cola Company – Derk Hendrickson, GM EKOCENTERS

IBM – Chris Crummey, Worldwide Exec. Dir. of Sales

Facebook – Andy McKeon, Global Customer Marketing Lead

Participant Media – Karina Kogan, EVP of Digital

Nutiva – John Roulac, CEO/Founder

Patagonia – Rick Ridgeway, VP of Environmental Initiatives

UN Foundation – Aaron Sherinian, VP of PR & Communication

We First – Simon Mainwaring – Founder/Chief Creative Officer

If you’d like to work with this team to create your plan for 2015, register at and enter the special discount code: IMPACT (in all caps) at registration to save $500 plus you get a free ticket for your favorite non-profit. Every brand must shift their marketing to capitalize on new business drivers and we look forward to positioning your company for success in 2015.




Purposeful Storytelling Now Table Stakes For Brands

September 23, 2014 Comments

Originally published in

Purposeful Storytelling Now Table Stakes For BrandsAs the drivers of brand reputation expand beyond marketing to include supply chain, employee wellness and engagement, and the impact on both local communities and the planet at large, companies are on the hook to reframe their brand stories in terms of global stewardship for positive social change.

With 55 percent saying they’ve boycotted a brand in the past 12 months, and those companies on the Meaningful Brands Index outperforming the stock markets by 120 percent, Edelman’s key learning from its annual Trust Barometer Report sums up this opportunity well: “Business must lead the debate for change.”

Capitalizing on these cultural behaviors is becoming increasingly difficult as more and more brands come to market with a message of purpose. It’s not enough to simply put a ribbon on a package or talk about sustainability in broad-sweeping terms. Rather, brands must commit to authenticity and expert storytelling to connect with consumers.

In order to be positioned well ahead of competitors and at the heart of what the consumer-driven marketplace will reward, brands must take on the following four challenges:

Read More>>



Chris Crummey, World Wide Executive Director of Sales – Social Business, IBM, to speak at the We First Summit

September 18, 2014 0 Comments

There is no name more synonymous with social business than IBM and we are extremely fortunate that Chris Crummey will be sharing his expertise at the We First Brand Leadership Summit on Oct 7-8th in Los Angeles. Chris leads a …

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The Top 10 Questions Every Brand Must Answer to Grow in 2015

September 15, 2014 2 Comments

Every marketer faces a dizzying array of choices in terms of strategy, tactics, and tools through which to reach their customers and inspire them to buy your products. As the media landscape becomes more fractured and the tools more varied, …

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Marc Mathieu, SVP of Marketing at Unilever: Keynote Speaker at 2014 We First Brand Leadership Summit­­

September 12, 2014 0 Comments

We are so excited this year that Marc Mathieu of Unilever can open the presentations at the We First Summit at the SLS Hotel, Beverly Hills, on October 7-8 in Beverly Hills. Marc is responsible for the development of Unilever’s …

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Announcing the final speaker line-up at the 2014 We First Brand Leadership Summit

September 10, 2014 0 Comments

Announcing the final speaker line-up at the 2014 We First Brand Leadership Summit – join us to build your social marketing plan for 2015 together. Getting your social marketing right is no easy task with technology and consumer behavior changing …

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How Nestlé Combined Purpose and Product to Win at Social Marketing

September 4, 2014 0 Comments

Nestlé India recently released a rap video featuring none other than animated super babies extolling the virtues of breastfeeding. This charming video has already captured almost 2 million views on YouTube and each of the individual characters takes on a …

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About Simon Mainwaring

Simon Mainwaring is the founder of We First, a leading brand consultancy that provides purpose-driven strategy, content, and training that empowers companies to lead business, shape culture, and better our world.