Your Cannabis Business Needs a Brand
Branding is more than just a logo or a well thought out name, however, that absolutely is a portion of your overall brand. There are many different definitions of what a brand is. People say that your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room, that it is your reputation, or that it is what other people think that it is, not what you tell them. I think it is all of this and more. There are steps that you can take to own your businesses brand before someone else does and makes you and your business into something that you do not want it to be.
The legal cannabis industry is going to be similar to the wild wild west over the next few years with regards to brands coming and going and fighting for domination. This is an exciting time that doesn't happen often, where we get to determine what a brand really is. Many brands will begin at the regional level and some will want to grow as legalization expands, and others will be content to be the best in their geographic region. Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years? When you can answer that question you can start building your brand.
Whatever stage of business you are in, whether you are just starting out or are a seasoned veteran, it is not too late to determine what you want your business to represent and to steer your brand in that direction.
For many years the marijuana brand has been sold in a clear bag and on the street. Images and colors associated with marijuana are tie-dyed anything, pot leaves prominent and a stoner persona depicted. As marijuana became legal for medical purposes, some branding has started to look more pharmaceutical as well as some names referring to medicinal properties.
The demographic using medical marijuana includes an older demographic. According to Colorado’s Medical Marijuana Registry, in June 2018 over 365% of registered users are 50 years or older and women make up 38% of the registered users. This demographic may prefer a brand that is more subtle and discrete.
I expect that demographics will be changing again as the shift toward legalization continues. Predictions are that the wine drinking demographic of women and older more wealthy people will be drawn to cannabis once it is legalized.
To be able to position your company as you would like, attract the consumer you are looking to attract, and to be able to tell your story as you want it to be told, decide who is the client you would like in 5 - 10 years. Will you be serving the 35-year-old mother who is going out with her girlfriends, or do you want to serve the 21-25-year-old college population? Do you want to be known for your knowledge or for total body and mind well being? The branding for these demographics is quite different from one another. Your name, packaging, decor, printed material, social media and tone of voice all play a part in your branding. Find the places your demographic hangs out, meaning are they on Facebook, Snapchat, reading an actual newspaper, or on the newest social media platform that we have not heard of yet? How do they want to consume your information? Do they want short or long form written communication, video or audio? Meet your audience there to minimize any friction in your audience finding you, and be present often enough so that it is you telling your story.
No one can predict what the consumer is going to want, but market research will help guide you. Stay true to your beliefs but be ready to pivot if the market calls for it.