Buy stuff from brands you agree with, because purchasing power is how our voices are heard.
Why Judge Brands
Brands are big and powerful. They have the ability to create change, good and bad. Usually its good, but sometimes their motivator gets in the way.
If it’s a public company, a company you can buy stock in, their motivator is simple. Creating value to shareholders (aka profit).
Profit is also simple; you can increase it by either increasing revenue or decreasing expenses.
The problem lies here. Sometimes a company will do things you might not agree with in order to increase profit.
Some examples are:
- Paying employees less than a livable wage (decrease expenses)
- Outsourcing labor to countries with sub par labor laws (decrease expenses)
- Using inferior materials (decrease expenses)
- Creating products with planned obsolescence, so you buy more (increase revenue)
- Aggressive marketing, often to vulnerable demographics (increase revenue)
We should judge brands to keep them doing good things.
How I Judge Brands
I love business. I have since I was a kid. So I stay up to date with it naturally. It’s usually in the form of listening to podcasts, watching Bloomberg TV, or reading the trending topics on Facebook.
I did an extensive blog post about how I stay up to date with current events, check it out here.
If I hear FoxConn, a major supplier of parts to Apple, had 14 employees commit suicide in a year, it doesn’t exactly make me feel warm and fuzzy.
Another example. Vice News Tonight (16:52) did a segment on “Fast Fashion.” It explained that old clothes are one of the biggest contributors to land fills and the dye in the clothing contaminates drinking water.
Obviously “Fast Fashion” is not great, so I haven’t supported companies like H&M, Zara, and Forever 21 for years. Because they make clothing that is consistently on trend, but does not last longer than a season or two.
In these two examples, I’m judging the brands on my beliefs. I believe in:
- Good working conditions
- Environmental responsibility
Brands I Like & Dislike
Like: The brand I like the most is Patagonia outdoor clothing & gear. They have a great work environment for employees. Its collaborative, diverse, open and accommodative.
Entrepreneur Magazine wrote an article about company culture. At Patagonia there is a program called “Let My People Go Surfing.” When an employee hits a creative wall they can taken a few hours and get their mind off of it and surf.
Those are working conditions I can get behind.
Listen to the How I Built This episode about how it was started.
Not only is the workplace top of the line, so are the products. Their products are made using reused materials and made to be virtually indestructable!
In the event their products do rip, tear, break they’ll fix it. They stand behind their products.
They’ve even driven trucks around the country fixing consumers products.
Dislike: Banks. Any big bank. They all suck .
Their goal is profit, because they’re all public companies, which is perfectly fine, but look deeper.
Banks have rules set by the government. If they play by the rules, they’re good. If they don’t they get fined and penalized.
Those rules are meant to protect consumers like you and I. If those rules didn’t exist banks would make more profit.
Well what if you could change the rules…
That’s what they do.
They spend tons of money to send persuasive, well connected people (lobbyist) to wine, dine, and donate money to individual congressmen and other government officials. Which is fine and legal, but I’m not a fan.
Who do you think they give the money to? The senators that want to make legislation that will prevent another housing market crash, like in 2008?
They give it to politicians that are for changing the rules to allow banks to make more profit.
Do politicians that don’t get a lot of donations usually win?
So who are the elected politicians….
That’s why I dislike banks.
If we want to make change in the world we have to put our money where our mouth is.
You can repost garbage on Facebook or forward that stupid email all you want, but money talks.