At the Lundquist College of Business, we pride ourselves on bringing in the best and the brightest industry experts to further the work our students are doing in the classroom. Sustainable business is an ever-expanding and shifting field, and we strive to keep our students up-to-date with all of the opportunities such a specialization can offer.
To that end, the Center for Sustainable Business Practices recently welcomed Craig Wilson to speak to both MBA and undergraduate students as well as any interested members of the public.
Author of “The Compass and the Nail: How the Patagonia Model of Loyalty Can Save Your Business, and Might Just Save the Planet,” Wilson is a leading authority on brand development and direct marketing. He counts some of the world’s most iconic brands in his listing of experience, including Patagonia, Kiehl’s, Seventh Generation, prAna Living, Burton Snowboards, and Revolution Living.
Wilson says his mission is to help good companies do better, and he does this through a model he calls the brand ecosystem model. The model is the key to how relationships form between two people, a company and a customer, or an organization and its constituents.
“Every human relationship happens in simple steps. A first impression leads to validation of that first impression, which leads to deeper understanding and an alignment of beliefs. Blink, test, bond, love—we move from a superficial introduction to a deep state of resonance. This is how loyalty works,” said Wilson.
Learning how customers move from blink to test to bond to love based on learning more about a company’s inherent values and reason for existing was an important lesson for MBA student Jacob Lewis and his Strategic Planning Project teammates working on a consulting project for The Renewal Workshop.
“Because we are working to create demand for a product that is yet to exist, we have to rely on the organization’s values and mission to garner interest. Wilson describes a model that builds strong brand affinity based not on the product but on why the company is in business. It’s like we learned in our leadership course, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
Anthony Troja, a business administration senior with an economics minor, said his key takeaway from Wilson’s talk was that, “people act intuitively, not rationally. Customers become advocates of brands that have an influence their emotions."
Likewise, Heather Halvorson, a junior in environmental studies with a business minor, said, "I extremely enjoyed Craig Wilson's talk because it provided insight into a company I hope to work for in the near future and maybe long-term, Patagonia. I was impressed and inspired by how deeply rooted Patagonia's principles and purpose are in everything they create—and to know those are the reasons for its consistent brand loyalty."
Stacey Edwards, Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship MBA student and founder of the women’s work wear brand TOUGHER, noted that Wilson’s talk was going to be immensely helpful as she launches her company.
"As a startup, the biggest insights for TOUGHER was to recognize that a new customer is not the same as a brand loyalist. Her motivation to buy is different, as is her knowledge about the brand. Message accordingly or risk losing a base of loyal customers," said Edwards.
Wilson said his work is to “help businesses understand marketing as a means to invoke change and as a process that engenders fierce loyalty in customers, creating in them lifelong brand advocates.”
He has definitely been successful invoking that change and creating lifelong sustainability advocates in the University of Oregon students.