Meet Jake Wall, his passion for innovation is apparent in his latest offering, Maison Bloom, a cannabis beverage brand. Jake’s innovations are fueled by his passion for human-centered design, which are apparent in his consulting firm, Playtpus and as Chief Innovation Officer at cannabis beverage brand Maison Bloom. Jake is well-known as a cannabis industry leader and his commitment to a “people-first” attitude is a white light of positivity for anyone who has the chance to work with him.
First, a little background about you:
I’m the Chief Innovation Officer and leading Design Thinker at MAISON BLOOM.
French Sensibilities. California Cool. We are cannabis with a twist.
We bottle the good life… and the good life is meant to be shared.
I also serve as the Chief Innovation Officer at PLATYPUS – an uncommon mix of different. PLATYPUS is a human-centered cooperative that takes the best practices of design thinking to unlock new marketplace opportunities. This unique and dynamic team of thought leaders steers their own destiny through designing, developing, and deploying products, services, and solutions. Taking my own 25+ years of expertise across multiple industries and combining that with my cohorts, we are driven by the simple premise that life cannot be lived to its fullest without vision, lifelong learning, and facing the challenges of our modern society head-on by endeavoring to serve others in new and innovative ways.
My unconventional exploits have been met with profiles in BizBash, Inc.com, San Francisco Chronicle, WWD, Marie Claire, and Huffington Post. Through my previous companies and roles, I have helmed award-winning innovation teams that have worked alongside Lincoln Motor Company to launch their Black Label special edition, famed Napa Valley vintner and entrepreneur Jean-Charles Boisset to bring Haute Couture French Bubbles to market, and collaborated with marquee philanthropic organizations like Walt Disney Family Museum and Human Rights Campaign for groundbreaking awareness and fundraising events and experiences.
Prior to Avec Bloom and PLATYPUS, I had the luxury of working with esteemed innovators like culinary leader Chef Michael Mina and social and content thought leaders, including Richard Rosenblatt and Orkut Buyukotten. My passion for design thinking and human-centered design has allowed me to work across technology, fashion, hospitality, consumer products, and services including the developed several startups including a market-leading luxury fashion design house and retailer which was featured on “Project Runway,” and E! Entertainment’s “Fashion Police.” I volunteer with several local and national community and arts-focused opportunities, including the Human Rights Campaign and The Walt Disney Family Museum.
At MAISON BLOOM and PLATYPUS, we replace the ordinary with extraordinary alternatives that you never knew you always wanted.
When did you first start working in cannabis?
What were you doing prior to cannabis?
I was the Chief Marketing Officer for MINA Group and worked diligently to refresh celebrity Chef Michael Mina’s global empire for a greater audience, including Millennials and Xennials.
Do you sit on any industry boards or associations that you’d like to mention?
NCIA – Marketing and Advertising Committee 2020/2021 + 2021/2022; Trailblazers Presents DEI Advisory Board 2022
What lesson did you learn BEFORE cannabis that’s been most valuable in cannabis?
Of all the places and spaces I have operated in, one of the biggest lessons in life came from my experience on Project Runway and being in an environment and series of challenges where one cannot say no. One must just soldier on find inspiration, overcome the challenge of making, and execute… all under the watchful eye of rotating cameras and an attentive public eye in a tiny window for each challenge. This experience of “no” not being an option really galvanized my dedication that anything is possible if you simply put your mind to it and push forward.
Is there a particular cannabis project you’d like to highlight?
The work on beverage formulation and creation innovation that we do at MAISON BLOOM always brings a smile to my face because we do it with consumers at the center of all that we do. Human-Centered Design has empowered leading companies like Apple and Dyson where the consumer is at the center and they built the products around their use cases. But in cannabis… HCD is a bit more of a foreign language. We tend to build products for our own personal tastes and use cases and then hope to find a market after that.
At (cannabis beverage) MAISON BLOOM, we have worked hard in partnership with key powerhouses like our partners at Vertosa and Sonoma Hills Farm to lift as we climb together and create cannabis’s first true offering that is strain-specific, single barrel, and whole plant allowing us to treat cannabis more like a chef treats spices and herbs to create layered flavors and functional experiences.
What’s the biggest misconception cannabis companies have about cannabis branding, advertising, marketing, PR, and social media?
The industry often likes to highlight that they don’t think brands matter.
But we fail to keep in mind that the legal cannabis industry is still young and we are moving into the space where brands are more relevant when true experiential brand offerings are created and deployed.
Not since “Field of Dreams” has there been a better example of “If you build it, they will come,” than this current shift in consumer mindset and opportunity for companies to give consumers what they never knew they always wanted.
In your view, what are the biggest cannabis PR, branding/marketing/advertising challenges facing cannabis companies today?
Truly placing end consumers at the center of product development, branding, and related touchpoints. To supercharge great direct to consumer offerings that work symbiotically with established retail sales to increase consumer loyalty and maximum repeat purchasing so that the entire cannabis ecosystem of business partners wins versus being in a more combative/competitive ecosystem.
What will get easier in cannabis PR marketing/branding what will get harder?
It will get easier to tell authentic stories and maximize social media and digital channels when more cannabis offerings are true brand experiences because there is more to “advertise” and “promote” than just the cannabis-based products which are currently problematic in these spaces.
It will get harder to exist as a brand without greater collaboration with partners. It is important to treat all players in your ecosystem with respect, as this is a difficult industry to operate within. To race forward without trusted partners and a tight circle of mutually beneficial “lifting as we climb” in collaboration across all levels of the supply chain will only handcuff growth. Companies need to build trusted pathways with trusted partners that ensure reliable growth and acceleration for all parties. Doing so will continue to be even harder, but the payout for short to long-term growth is going to be the proverbial silver bullet.
What can companies do to alleviate their branding/marketing/PR/advertising challenges?
Move away from trying to be everywhere and instead designate some core channels and offerings that are most authentic to their brand, their offering, and their abilities and focus there. Only once you deliver a solid funnel and can clearly show your own ROI and understanding of the channel/offering will you be able to make it so that you aren’t just spending money, but you are making money.
In your view, what is the most under-rated tool in the cannabis branding/marketing/advertising/PR toolbox for cannabis companies?
A clear consumer-focused direct-to-consumer fulfillment channel executed by the company, including full suite communication support (email, text) to consumers.
In your view, what is the most over-rated tool in the branding/marketing/advertising/PR toolbox for cannabis companies?
Billboards. They are for wayfinding and beyond that one is just throwing money away. Brands try and treat billboards like they can be used for anything and the truth is, you can put anything on them but that doesn’t mean they will resonate or be effective.
What’s the BEST piece of advice you give everyone you work with?
This is cannabis. We are writing new rules as to what is possible each and every day. Push yourself to do your best work. Push the industry forward by doing your best work. Because if better exists, we always want to go with better.
What’s your advice for people who want to get into cannabis marketing/advertising/pr/branding?
As Dorothy might say… “You’re not in Kansas anymore.” This is a wacky and weird world that is often figuring itself out as it goes along. Rules and regulations can and do change just as you get used to them. Realize that in this world, you are going to need to embrace learning while doing and you will be constantly iterating towards greatness. In cannabis more than anywhere else, everything is a process and one that is evolving in real time.
Thank you for sharing these fantastic branding insights, innovation and leadership tips with us, Jake. How can others in the cannabis industry get in touch with you?