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From Ricardo's Desk: Why Are Brand Values So Valuable?

Published on
July 15, 2021
A cannabis pen in the hands of the consumer


Today, let’s talk about how—and what—we communicate with our most important audiences.

While most companies engage their target audiences via straightforward branded collateral, some businesses instead wear their brand values on their sleeves. Whether they support American farmers (Chipotle) or criminal justice reform (Ben & Jerry’s), values-driven brands want consumers to know exactly where they stand on complex modern issues—even though many of these initiatives don’t appear to have anything to do with selling burritos or ice cream.

Or do they?

As a consumer, journalist, marketer and futurist working primarily in American cannabis, I feel strongly that values-driven brands will be the brands that will dominate the federally legal cannabis industry of the future.

Consumers—who are four to six times more likely to buy from, trust, champion and defend purpose-driven brands—are spurring this mass adoption in traditional industries, and the same will absolutely be seen in cannabis. Of course, the why of a brand’s purpose has to resonate with the brand’s products and founders, and the brand’s commitment to the cause must be sincere, unwavering and felt year-round.

There’s a right way for a brand to do this—and a wrong way, naturally.

And as the summer calendar advances, some of last month’s inauthentic Pride campaigns—known as rainbow-washing—are starting to age poorly and reveal corporations that don’t practice year-round what they preach on Instagram each June.

I was thinking a lot about Grasslands’ brand values as my colleagues and I were gearing up for our first post-lockdown event of 2021: a full-on Pride Party (photos below) that we co-hosted in late-June with our clients Actall, which took over a downtown Denver sidestreet with breakfast burritos, mimosas and loud-and-proud Pride anthems.

The guest list at the Actall x Grasslands Pride Party was made up of our colleagues, families, clients, media friends, strategic partners and others.

And like all Grasslands parties, the bar was open—but the tip jar was raising donations for an organization we support: The Center on Colfax, the largest LGBTQ+ organization in the Rocky Mountains. Thanks to the generosity of our attendees and co-hosts, we raised nearly $500 for The Center on Colfax.

While it was important for us to mark the occasion of Pride on the last weekend of June, as is tradition, my colleagues and I are serious about our year-round commitment to supporting equality and human rights. As a Gen X CEO and company founder, I was fortunate to learn allyship from friends and family at a young age—and I recognize my responsibility to continue this learning, activism and support. And much of that comes out via how we operate at Grasslands, which not only goes big for Pride but also prioritizes DEI in hiring and corporate giving every day.

In fact, Grasslands will be rolling out our latest corporate social responsibility campaign in the months ahead—and the primary thrust of that work will be to support a local and global institution that works daily to hold the powerful accountable, thus propelling this important work toward true equality.

But I’ll have more on that CSR program soon. Until then, let’s remember to prioritize our brand values every month—and to fully communicate those values to the audiences that matter most to our brands. As always, I’m around if you want to discuss this type of strategic comms and tactful content marketing—


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