When it comes to telling a compelling brand story, nothing is more powerful (or more effective) than letting your customers do the talking.
That’s exactly what Patagonia has been doing for three decades.
Every year, customers send more than 80,000 photographs of themselves doing the things they love—wearing Patagonia gear.
And the results are stunning.
Rock climbers. Tree sitters. Alpine skiers. Hikers. Wild-life.
Thousands of photos taken in places with crazy names like: Suicide Rock, The Thrill is Gone, and The Asylum.
A recent issue of the catalog featured stories of failure—written by climbers who got tantalizingly close to a summit, only to have to quit climbing before reaching the top. Sometimes it really is about the journey (though not always by choice).
And between the customer stories are photos and descriptions of the gear that makes it all possible.
Visit Patagonia.com and you’ll see more of the same.
Customer photos and stories featured on the home page and blog.
And a microsite called the Tin Shed (harking back to the shed in which Patagonia first opened) where you can see even more photos, watch video, and hear audio from customers like Maxime Turgeon who rode his bike 770 miles around the Alps looking for new climbing routes to try.
Or check out the story of Fletcher Chouinard and several others who visit the Mentawai Islands off the coast of Sumatra to test their new surf boards.
There’s some really good stuff here.
Patagonia gets bonus points for its “Spread the Shed” feature which makes it easy to tweet, email, dig, and otherwise share these incredible stories.
Or check out Patagonia’s Youtube channel where you’ll find more of the same…
The most important part of these stories is that they aren’t about Patagonia at all. No talk about the triple stitching or waterproofing of the jacket a person is wearing. Or the unique cut of a fleece liner.
Just aspirational images and stories about what their customers love to do.
And by retelling these stories in their marketing materials, Patagonia shows their customers that they get it.
They are a natural part of their customer’s world. A brand they can trust.
The reality is that customers often tell the story better than the marketing department. So why not let them?