In his 2017 article, Your Internal Culture is your Brand, global trend watcher David Mattin, says:
Patagonia is often held up as an example of a company that has designed a culture they can live up to; one that is integrated into every aspect of their business, including the experiences of customers and employees.
On our recent webinar, The Culture-Talent Connection, we looked at Patagonia through the lens of three Archetypes demonstrating the alignment between their culture and their talent brand: the Explorer, the Innocent and the Hero.
Explorer is an Archetypal pattern that is about independence and freedom. In Explorer organizations, we find cultures that are moving us all forward by looking at what’s just over the horizon. Explorers are light on formal structure and large on flexibility and letting people find their own path.
In the Careers section of the Patagonia website, the Explorer Archetype comes to life. It includes an excerpt from the founder’s book called “Let my people go surfing,” that describes the ideal employee:
Can you hear the Explorer culture in this? And also how this kind of language might appeal to a good-fit prospective employee?
Speaking of ideal Explorer employees, meet Chipper.
Chipper is the often seen as the face of Patagonia. He is not only the receptionist who greets visitors. He is also a Frisbee freestyle world champion and runs a surf school for special needs students. He was also the runner-up in a company-wide contest about who should run the company.
The Explorer perspective is even experienced through core values and benefit plans that prioritize flexibility:
The second Archetypal pattern that is clearly part of the Patagonia culture is Innocent. Innocent is the Archetype that believes in a return to natural order and basic values. Innocents prize simplicity and optimism. We find that Innocent organizations are guided by a strong set of values – and do business in alignment with those values.
For example, sustainable business practices are a huge priority at Patagonia and we can align that value with the Innocent Archetype.
How many companies would advertise like this? If you read the fine print, Patagonia wants to make as few jackets as possible to minimize their environmental impact.
They also have a place where you can send your used Patagonia clothing where they will repair and resell used clothing at a great bargain. The message is about conservation and reuse.
Patagonia is also committed to tracking the environmental impact of their product lines. Through the Footprint Chronicles, employees where they analyze their supply chain and vendor relationships, looking for ways to reduce environmental impact.
In 2017, they held their second annual Black Friday sale where 100% of SALES (Sales not profits) were donated to environmental causes identified by employees.
Or, consider the Innocent underpinnings of this quote from Dean Carter who leads HR at Patagonia – he says:
The Innocent’s tie to core values is something that employees experience too. Here’s a quote from one of their environmentalist, dirtbag employees who acknowledges that the ideals of the Patagonia culture are also in alignment with his personal values.
| Rick Ridgeway, VP of public engagement, Patagonia
Let’s take a quick look at a third Archetype—the Hero. The Hero Archetype is activated when there is a dragon to slay. In fact, Hero cultures are at their best when there is someone to protect or principles to uphold.
Here’s what the Patagonia homepage looked like the day after the current administration reduced the size of two national monuments. Them are fighting words – the President stole your land!
As the lines between culture, brand, and talent continue to blur, companies need to get serious about who they are, what they stand for, and how culture can help them stand out. Like Patagonia, there needs to build an authentic alignment between the message and the experience; an alignment that can stand up in the era of glassbox brands.
In our next blog, we’ll look at a company that identified its Archetypes through a CultureTalk Assessment, show you how they used these stories to tell their own story, and demonstrate the success its created for recruiting and retention.
Curious about our Culture Assessment and your potential Archetypes? Let’s talk!