How a Purpose-Driven Brand Does Pride

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June brings summertime sunshine (or if you’re near the Bay Area, it can be more like June gloom), BBQs, and trips to the beach. And it also heralds the arrival of Pride parades, celebrations of diversity, and lots of rainbows adorning storefronts and social media accounts.

Cannabis and Pride actually share a common thread in the history of their movements. Gay rights activists were among the first to champion cannabis legalization when they discovered that it helped to alleviate complications caused by AIDS. In 1996, gay activist Dennis Peron co-authored a California law that dubbed him the “father of medical marijuana.” So it’s no surprise that cannabis brands are jumping on board to show support for the LGBTQIA+ community and add a splash of rainbow to their summer marketing campaigns.

But before painting your brand with the popular rainbow brush, dive deeper into your intentions, make sure your company’s actions align with the cause, educate yourself on the history and people of Pride, and invite your LGBTQIA+ team members to lead the planning process to ensure you’re truly aligning your actions with your words.

As our Brand Strategy clients know, it starts with WHY. Being mindful to “do what you say” and, above all, making sure your campaign is inclusive and sensitive to the history of struggle behind Pride, will help you create a win-win for all with your marketing efforts this month and beyond.

It’s been truly inspiring to see the creative ways cannabis brands have partnered with organizations supporting the queer community for Pride, even more exciting witnessing the long-term commitments to social justice and equality initiatives. From brands offering a percentage of proceeds to LGBTQIA+ causes like Dosist and Lowell Herb Co, to Jetty’s efforts to save cannabis compassion programs, Cannabis for Good, Vangst’s Social Equity initiative focusing on equity in hiring, and finally, to  the PAX ‘Be a Force for Good’ campaign—creative companies are using their platforms for a good cause, connecting with their communities, and creating a buzz around their brand at the same time. Talk about a WIN-WIN!

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In the spirit of Pride, below are a few ideas to help your cannabis business support social justice issues like Pride. These lists are a start, but you’ll want to seek out local organizations as well that align well with your brand values and mission.

Let us know what you’re doing to support Pride! What other organizations or community efforts are you spearheading? Please share in the comments!

LGBTQIA+ Organizations to Support

Pride month is almost over, but it’s never too late to partner with and donate to organizations doing great work in support of the queer community. Here’s just a sampling of our favorites, many in our own backyard.

Equality as a Business Culture

Your Pride marketing efforts should be genuine. Your audience can tell if you’re inauthentic, so be sure those stunning images and cleverly crafted words are backed by a solid action plan to promote diversity and equity within the walls of your organization.

Here are some preliminary steps you can take:

  • Hire for diversity and hire those who have been impacted by the war on drugs.
  • Build acceptance of all people into your company culture, and have a ‘zero tolerance for intolerance’ policy in place.
  • Real representation matters: mix up your marketing with images showing the diversity of real people from all walks of life. When people can see themselves represented in your marketing, they feel heard and safe.
  • Collaborate with, purchase from, and be a true ally to LGBTQIA+ owned and focused organizations in your community.
  • Participate in and sponsor Pride Events - here’s a Pride Calendar by City.
  • Carefully moderate your Pride campaigns on social media to make sure any discussion in the comments is supportive and not bigoted or hateful..
  • Think of Pride as an opportunity to educate, engage with, and listen to your audience rather than to toot your own horn.

When planning Pride marketing campaigns, be mindful, let your LGBTQIA+ teammates lead the process, and check out these guides from Later and AdWeek for more excellent tips. Happy Pride!

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