After spending a decade working for sports apparel brand Nike Inc. (NYSE:NKE), Craig Lyon has opted to join Sacramento, California-based Connected Cannabis as head of marketing.
“They have a special focus on authenticity and quality that has earned the brand its unprecedented market position, an aspect that instantly sparked my intrigue,” Lyon told Benzinga.
Led by CEO Sam Ghods and co-founded by Luke Coleman and Caleb Counts, the company managed to carve out its “market prominence with less than 1% of revenue going towards marketing,” Lyon explained.
“The opportunity to work for a legacy brand like Connected at this inflection point for the industry is what truly motivated me to work in cannabis,” he added.
From his beginnings as a marketing intern, Lyon’s career at Nike included roles in advertising, digital marketing, and brand marketing. He eventually became Nike’s Senior Director of Brand Marketing in North America.
“A majority of my tenure was spent with Nike Basketball where I was privileged to lead teams in developing some of the largest and fastest-growing franchises in the company’s history,” he said, citing the Kyrie Irving, Paul George, and Giannis Antetokounmpo signature athlete franchises.
Holding On To What Makes You ‘You’
Meantime, as the legal marijuana market expands and competition grows, businesses are hoping to establish brand loyalty.
“In the early stages of brand development, you are both establishing who you are and solidifying the foundation you’ll rely on to maintain that identity in the long-run,” Lyon said.
"The 'secret' — or at least one of the secrets — to a successful brand is holding on to what makes you 'you' and growing the brand around that,” he added.
Many small brand leaders are still prone to pursuing existing demand over creating customer loyalty and intrigue due to being forced to scale quickly.
By rushing to market products and initiatives that are misaligned with the core brand, company leaders are often “tempted to shift brand messaging and strategy to fit external or preconceived expectations of being a larger entity.”
“By falling into this trap, brands can lose the identifying elements that made them interesting in the first place,” Lyon said.
Nevertheless, when it comes to breaking into the new markets and brands coming to the East Coast following the legalization, Connected is hoping to achieve its expansion goals.
“When we do expand, we will bring the whole Connected engine, not just the name,” Lyon disclosed, adding that they will “never compromise the quality of our product or the integrity of the Connected brand.”