Coffee and Lemonade: How Your Values Attract Your Customers


September, 2023

Coffee or Lemonade?

Small businesses have the advantage of creating personal connections and customer-centric experiences. Many people prefer to patronize a small business because they appreciate the level of personal interaction. Beyond that, people often connect with more than the product or service—they connect with the values conveyed/supported by the business owner.

We’re going to look at two organizations that incorporate their core values into every aspect of their customer interactions, from product development to customer service. These organizations are no longer in the small business category, because they’ve grown exponentially since their early beginnings. I’d venture to say that their core values are keys to their skyrocketing success. Read on and see what you think.

We’re going to check out Black Rifle Coffee Company, whose business is to sell great coffee and support U.S. veterans at the same time, and Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a foundation whose mission is centered around alleviating childhood cancer. While these organizations have different missions and structures, they are both very clear about what people are supporting when they partner with them. My hope is that by looking at both these models, your own wheels will begin to turn on how you might incorporate some of their ideas into building your own customer experience.

Black Rifle Coffee Co

First, let’s look at What Black Rifle Coffee Company is doing well. A quick tour of their website tells us a lot about them.

Their mission: Black Rifle Coffee Company serves coffee and culture to people who love America. View Black Rifle Coffee’s About Page

We develop our explosive roast profiles with the same mission focus we learned as military members serving this great country and are committed to supporting veterans, law enforcement, and first responders.

Their community: people who like coffee and who want to support American patriotism and Veterans.

How does Black Rifle connect with and build their community?

  • They clearly express their values.
    • Immediately they tell visitors that they are patriotic and Veteran-owned.
    • Their goal is to honor Veterans.
  • They offer a lot of ways for others to join them.
  • They create a strong online presence through their:
    • Podcast
    • YouTube channel.
    • Vlog
    • Blog
    • Organizational multi-media platform.

Black Rifle Coffee has done an amazing job of creating a community around the support of Veterans by sharing their values and being authentic.

While they are visible on social media, their website is a great hub that makes it easy for people to get connected with them. Of course, their content includes info about coffee, but also reaches far beyond it to their other sites with news, human interest stories, gear reviews and other stuff relevant to the military/patriot community.

After looking through the BRCC website, I almost forgot about the coffee! Their patriotic, Veteran-support almost got more of my attention than the coffee did. I was surprised at how welcome I felt in the community they’ve created. I felt very much like I was being invited to connect, not simply with their mission, but with them. They’ve done an amazing job of creating this community vibe by sharing their values.

This is the message Black Rifle is conveying to their customers: You are supporting Veterans and American patriotism when you buy our coffee. More than that, you are welcome to join our patriotic community.

While they clearly sell fantastic coffee, the Black Rifle experience is not intended to be a one-time coffee purchase—it’s intended to grow a patriotic community and give Veterans the support they need. Powerful stuff.

Take time to define your values and communicate that to inspires others. Only then can your customers and clients become partners and join your mission.

What This Means for You

For every business, taking time to define and communicate the primary mission is not a small task. The process lends itself to examining values and being able to express them in a way that inspires others.  When this is done well, others are invited to become partners in some way, whether it be through outright donations or through knowing a percentage of what they spend is supporting a cause they align with.

Even if you already have a solid mission statement, take some time to think about the values that are behind it. Are your values expressed in your current marketing materials? What do your customers experience when they encounter your promotional materials or visit your website? Look at Black Rifle Coffee’s presentation and see if there are any takeaways that would enhance your current customer experience.

Maybe you haven’t made the connection between your personal values and your business. If that’s the case, this could be a great opportunity to consider what is important to you personally. Once you have your values defined, consider a variety of ways you might be able to communicate them to others. Would YouTube be a good vehicle for you? How about a podcast? Are you a blogger? If so, channel your information through audio, video, or written format. In fact, consider the pros and cons of each of these. Think outside the box when considering what you can offer your customers. Remember, you’re not simply offering a product or service, you’re delivering an experience.


Have you made the connection between your personal values and your business? Are you using the right channels to reach your audience?

Alex’s Lemonade Stand

Now, let’s check out what Alex’s Lemonade Stand has to offer.

Their mission: To change the lives of children with cancer through funding impactful research, raising awareness, supporting families and empowering everyone to help cure childhood cancer.

Their community: People whose lives have been affected by childhood cancer and anyone else who wants to see it eradicated.

How does Alex’s Lemonade connect with their donors and build their community? Here are a few ways:

  • They offer multiple avenues for donors to get involved. Their site filters options that are specific to individuals, businesses, kids, students, etc. Everyone can find an easy inroad to supporting their cause.
  • They take a comprehensive approach to childhood cancer, providing family services, including:
    • Travel expenses for patients’ families
    • Emotional support for families
    • School support
    • Informational materials
  • They share personal, inspirational stories
    • Video
    • Written articles
  • They sell their own unique merch and books.
  • They serve as a resource for finding the latest cancer research.
  • They’re connected with partner organizations with the same target audience.
  • They offer transparency about how funds are used.

Alex’s Lemonade has created a platform where these their tight-knit community can easily connect, share stories, and find the resources they need.

The story behind Alex’s Lemonade Stand is inspiring, and it’s easy to see how they’ve grown to reach millions of people who’ve been affected by childhood cancer.

Realizing that anyone whose life has been touched by childhood cancer is in a unique situation, Alex’s Lemonade has created a platform where these folks can easily connect, share stories, and find the resources they need. They also leverage the use of social media and e-newsletters to enhance their connections.

This is a pretty tight-knit community, simply because they share a common, very difficult experience. This is a type of bonding that only happens in the trenches of life. Anyone walking this journey needs to know they’re not alone, and Alex’s Lemonade has provided a place for people to connect and find the support they need. Beyond that, people who want to give finances, time, or provide services, are given specific ways they can get involved and support the mission. In each of these ways, they come alongside patients and families as helpers on the journey. Again, connection is what it’s all about.

Alex’s overarching message is that if I am on this journey, I can connect here. And if I want to help others affected by childhood cancer, this is a great venue where I can plug in. 

The greatest rewards are the community that is built by folks who use their organizations to create a solid platform for connection.

Branding Done Right

As I mentioned, I believe Black Rifle Coffee and Alex’s Lemonade Stand have grown to where they are today because of the intentional, clear expression of their values and invitation to join their communities. Both are offering their customers an experience, whether it be through community, a shared vision/mission or both. Financial success may come from coffee or childhood cancer donations, and that’s important, but the greatest rewards here are not monetary. The greatest rewards are the community that is built by folks who use their organizations to create a solid platform for connection.

You may be starting small, but there are people out there who share your values and who will purchase your product over a competitor’s, simply because they believe in what you’re doing and are aligned with your purpose. In fact, I would argue that promoting your values is at least as important as promoting your product or service. Of course, you want to deliver the best product or service possible. But also take time to be creative, welcoming and offer people a place to connect with your values. Simply put, be who you are. You may be surprised at how many others will join you! 

Contact us for more information on how you can gear your branding elements toward promoting your values.


I have a passion for using technology to make workflow and the day-to-day easier. Pier5 allows me to help businesses with digital technology, allowing them to focus more on what they love and are good at – their product or service!

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