From our Guest Writer Decater Collins, Founder and CEO of Hood Collective
A cannabis brand is more than just a logo and a color palette. It’s a reflection of what your company is all about: its values, vision, mission, and the reason why it does what it does. If you want your products to stand out on the shelves (or online, or at the trade show), of course you need a professional brand that connects with your audience. But it also needs to be an extension of your values and capture what your company stands for.
If you want to be a market leader, then your branding needs to convey to your customers that you are worthy of that distinction. Your brand needs to be unique, easily recognizable, and illustrative of the type of company you are (or are striving to be). There are so many businesses out there creating and marketing their own brands that companies can’t afford to be just like everyone else. It never worked for Apple or Coca-Cola, and it doesn’t work for businesses in the cannabis sector either.
A lot of cannabis business owners I meet are extremely passionate about what they do, and have gotten into the legal industry for a lot of good reasons, whether it’s ending the stigma against cannabis use, helping people get get access to medical cannabis, or righting the wrongs caused by the war on drugs. The most successful companies tend to align their values with their brand in a compelling way.
The bottom line is a successful cannabis business is best supported by cannabis marketing that resonates with their target audience. Let’s look at how this can be accomplished.
Your Branding Should Match Your Values
If you’re launching a new cannabis brand or undergoing a rebrand, you have to consider the impact of your branding while also making sure that it aligns with your values and is one that you can stick with. This starts with this important maxim: Know yourself first.
What kind of brand do you want to represent—are you playful and lighthearted, or serious and professional? Do you like bright colors, or do you prefer muted tones? Make sure that any branding decisions reflect the kind of personality you want to portray with your brand.
But most importantly, think about your company from the perspective of your customers or clients. How do they want to feel while using your products, or what pain point are you solving? Having a brand that says something about the experience of your products will be very useful when it comes time for them to make purchasing decisions.
It’s also important to stay true to yourself. If a trend catches on in the industry, ask yourself if it’s something that you want to adopt for your own brand. If not, don’t be afraid to go against the grain and do what feels right for your brand instead of jumping on a bandwagon just because it’s popular at the moment.
Some things to consider when going through the branding process is to ask yourself tough questions about who you are as a company. How do you treat your employees? Is the welfare and growth of your staff important to you? Do you prioritize efficiency and sustainability? Are you focused chiefly on the bottom line? Whatever your answers are to these questions will go a long way to determining what type of branding will fit best.
Your Branding Should be Memorable
Your branding should be memorable. People tend to have quick, minimal interactions with a brand, especially when first introduced to it, whether it’s via advertising, social media, or a dispensary. This means that your branding needs to be well-designed and engaging enough to leave an impression on customers immediately.
A memorable brand is one that is visually consistent across all platforms (whether it’s a website, packaging, in-store signage, etc.), has clear messaging (not just about your products but also what you stand for as a company), and stands out from the competition. At the end of the day, your cannabis brand should be able to make an impression on consumers without you being there to do it for them.
Your logo is the single most important element of your brand’s identity. It’s what people will see on your packaging and products, as well as in your advertisements and social media posts. Obviously, you want to make it eye-catching—but unless you’re a graphic designer by trade, this can be easier said than done. That’s why it’s best to hire a professional for this part of creating your cannabis brand. The money you invest in getting a solid logo designed will pay off in the long run when customers begin recognizing and trusting your brand because of it.
Your color scheme should be cohesive and consistent across all elements of your branding, from stickers on the packaging of your products to the banners on your website. Again, this is where hiring a professional comes in handy: They’ll design everything from scratch with a set plan for how colors and elements are used throughout all aspects of your branding.
It’s easy to convince yourself that if you grow great cannabis or provide an amazing service that word will spread. Unfortunately, the real world rarely works this way. If you want to convince people, the easiest way to do this is with a professional brand that conveys your values and worth. Yes, this requires an upfront investment, but a failure to make this investment is going to make it much harder to achieve success.
The bottom line is that your customers want to feel good when they are buying your product or services. A powerful brand will make this a lot easier to accomplish. Your branding is a reflection of who you are as a business, and in this industry it’s important to project an image that resonates with today’s customers.
Decater Collins is the co-founder of The Hood Collective (www.hoodcollective.com) a Portland-based content marketing firm focused exclusively on the cannabis industry.