People vote with their wallets. Brands that put purpose first emerge as leaders when they give people something to vote for that is more valuable than a product or service. People get behind brands that have a purpose and avoid the ones that don’t. Taos Ski Valley is an example of what can happen when a brand stays true to its values and rallies around its purpose.
“Why do we exist?” The answer to that question is what sets a purpose-driven brand apart. The answer reveals their purpose. Though it might sound high and mighty, a brand purpose doesn’t have to be righteous, grandiose, or global. It should be genuine, clear, and allude to where they want to be in the future.
Businesses in the outdoor industry rely on a healthy environment and ample outdoor space for people to be able to use and appreciate their products. Taos Ski Valley, a ski resort in New Mexico (yes, they do have skiing in New Mexico), is a great example of a business that clearly understands and communicates their purpose. And while their needs as a business depend on snow in a warming climate, some of their biggest efforts see sustainability that starts with people: community health, preservation of culture, and creating local opportunities as the pillars of their larger view of sustainability. Taos’ purpose is part of their brand DNA: Enjoy - Protect - Give, and is at the core of every decision the organization makes. As they undergo big changes on resort, Taos has kept their purpose top of mind.
When the resort recently underwent a $300 million renaissance project they stayed true to their purpose and Taos CEO, Dave Norden’s guiding principle: “Change everything, but change nothing at all.” In February 2017, Taos Ski Valley became the first ski resort in the world to earn a B Corp. certification. Taos put the concept of purpose before product to work, began its journey as a student of sustainability, and became a guiding light for their industry. Earning a B Corp. certification is a commitment to making deliberate and thoughtful social, economic, and environmental actions while using business as a force for good. Taos has an obligation to meet the highest standards of verified economic, social, and environmental performance and public transparency.
Taos identified five core areas where responsible business practices could help them achieve their objective: energy, stewardship, water, waste, and engagement.
Norden recognized the importance and power of organizations that are purpose-driven, “We know that purpose-driven organizations outperform the competitive set on a regular basis. Aligning our brand messaging with our purpose has helped us in many ways, including staff recruitment, training, and engagement. Guests feel that the message resonates, too. More than anything, we believe in the idea of using business as a force for good”.
The renaissance project continues to improve amenities for resort visitors. Beyond that, it also improves the economic future of the community and ongoing health of the mountain ecosystems. Taos’ commitment to grow better and not just bigger, is at the root of their brand. By understanding their purpose and sticking to their values, Taos earned a spot amongst 2,000+ B Corp business a position in a global movement powered by people who use business as a force for good.
We worked with Taos for 2018-19 to put their core values at the front and centre of their campaign. Our goal was to take a unique approach to leadership, one that gives a nod to the relentless commitment and effort to use business for good, but remains humble and acknowledges that they don’t have it all figured out. This theme of being a student of sustainability lives throughout the campaign. The sentiment of the campaign is rooted in Taos’ proof point as a brand committed to using their business as a force for good: their B Corp certification. Our campaign headline, Ski the Change You Want to See in the World, is an invitation to everyone, regardless of personal values, to visit a place that believes in improving the industry and the planet, for all.