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What Are Purpose-Driven Cannabis Brands? The Future.

Published on
November 21, 2022
Members of the Grasslands team form a human pyramid, including a small chihuahua dachshund mix, representing how a purpose-driven cannabis brand uplifts larger goals, too.
Contributors
MEGHAN O’DEA

Meghan O’Dea is writer and editor with over 10 years experience, focused primarily on travel and cannabis journalism as well as digital and content marketing. Prior to joining the Grasslands team, Meghan was on staff at publications including Fortune magazine, Uproxx and Lonely Planet. She has earned freelance bylines in The Washington Post, Playboy, Bitch magazine, Nylon and Civilized, amongst others.

Meghan holds a master’s in creative nonfiction from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and was a visiting participant in the international MFA program at City University in Hong Kong. She has also taught writing at the college level and guest lectured on topics such as literary citizenship, urban history and professional development for writers.

Three media outlets I check every single day: The Cut, The Atlantic, The Washington Post

Super inspired by: Women like Isabella Bird, Uschi Obermaier and my maternal grandmother, who dared to travel the world even in eras when global adventures went against the grain.

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: PEN America’s Prison Writing Program

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Books. Long walks. Architecture. Mixtapes.

Most companies have a purpose in that they have a mission, values and goals—but that doesn’t make them purpose-driven brands. Purpose-driven brands have a vision that goes beyond mere profit, customer satisfaction or cultural relevance. Purpose-driven brands position their ‘why’ as the touchstone for all business decisions, placing their purpose front and center in all branding and marketing initiatives. These brands focus on driving meaningful change in the world by using the business to illuminate issues and deliver solutions.

Purpose-driven brands can rally their audiences around their values and the causes they believe in. And the audiences seeking brands with a purpose are getting bigger every year. A 2018 study by Accenture found that 62% of surveyed consumers “want companies to take a stand on current and broadly relevant issues such as sustainability, transparency and fair employment practices.”

According to 5WPR’s 2020 Consumer Culture Report, 83% of respondents ages 18-34 said it was important that the companies they buy from are aligned with their values. Another 65% said they had boycotted a company they once shopped with because of that brand’s stance on an issue. And while respondents over 55 agreed at lower rates, 60% and 51% answered the same, respectively. That’s a lot of consumers asking brands to stand for more than their bottom line. 

Purpose-Driven Brand Examples

So which brands are doing a good job of meeting consumers’ demands for commerce with a purpose? There’s a few that are especially famous for their commitment to causes ranging from global health initiatives to social justice to body positivity and beyond. Here’s some of the best purpose-driven brands:

What Do Purpose-Driven Brands Do to Drive Success?

Authors of the Accenture study note, “Consumers are highly valuable stakeholders who insist on transparency at the corporate level and expect meaningful products, services and promises. Price, product quality and customer experience are important attributes, but companies looking to build their competitive agility need to find new ways to stand out.”

Indeed, purpose-driven branding can be a way to occupy white space in a crowded or competitive marketplace. But for purpose-driven branding to drive success, it has to find its foundation in a genuine and authentic commitment that goes beyond industry table stakes. Today’s media-savvy consumers can quickly see through bogus or lackluster attempts at purpose positioning. 

Take the criticism brands like The North Face and Crocs have garnered for high-fashion partnerships that seem to fly in the face of their decidedly egalitarian and sustainable principles. Or consider brands like Pepsi, whose attempt to capitalize on the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement backfired terribly—in part because Pepsi has rarely attempted to align itself with causes of any sort.

Purpose-Driven Brand Strategy for Cannabis Brands

When done correctly, purpose-driven branding helps consumers see which brands fit into their lifestyles and how. If you have to choose between three products of seemingly equal quality (logos) and appeal (pathos), the tiebreaker often comes in the form of shared ethos. 

Just look at CBD brand Charlotte’s Web, which earned the trust of skeptical, cannabis-leery consumers. Even protective parents were won over because of the purity and honesty of the brand’s mission to reduce seizures in children with epilepsy and improve the accessibility of cannabinoid medicine. In this case, purpose-driven branding didn’t just add value to an already good product; it also won over customers who might otherwise have never tried a cannabis product.

That’s an excellent example of why purpose-driven branding holds so much potential value for cannabis operators. In an industry that’s still struggling under federal prohibition, and to counteract decades of stigma and War on Drugs messaging, articulating a brand purpose is a way to change the conversation. It’s also a chance to broadcast positive messaging about cannabis that tangibly opposes the harm associated with decades of anti-cannabis propaganda and today’s anti-potency movement. 

Curious how you can build a purpose-driven brand that walks the walk and talks the talk? Our journalism-minded team will help you craft a brand identity that communicates a clear and committed set of values. Interested? Drop us a line any time.

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