Bacardi Rum began in a tin roof distillery with bats in the rafters. Burt Shavitz, founder of the ubiquitous Burt’s Bees, had his start selling honey at a roadside stand in Maine. Diamonds were not commonly used as symbols of love until 1947 when a copywriter named Frances Gerety coined the phrase “a diamond is forever” and catapulted DeBeers Diamonds to the forefront of the diamond industry. All three companies fill a consumer need by providing high quality products, but all three also know one of the most important business strategies: they know how to brand themselves.
If you haven’t put some serious thought into how to brand your cannabis business, it’s time to begin. Are you looking for a short-term fix or do you want to establish your company as one of the early innovators in the newly emerging medical and recreational marijuana industry?
Legalities might mean now is not the time for aggressive advertising, but you can still put thought into your brand and develop a campaign, so when all the laws and restrictions in your area of business finally fall away, you’ll be ready to launch.
Leigh Coulter, President of GGS Structures Inc., one of the leading suppliers of integrated systems for growing cannabis believes everything about a business grows from branding. “A brand is an image and a feeling about a specific product, service or group of products and services,” she says. “You need to clearly solidify in your mind that feeling and image that you want your brand to become.”
One of the most important fist steps is choosing a name. “The name is everything,” says Coulter. “It’s how you set yourself apart from other brands or strains. It should define who you are today without limiting your potential growth. And in the interconnected world, the name has to be much more than just a name. It has to be an available url, a Facebook page, a Youtube site, a Twitter handle.”
One example of what Coulter calls a “brilliant name branding strategy” is Privateer’s Marley Naturals. She says, “It’s clean. It’s pure. It’s natural. It’s basically a retroactive celebrity endorsement. A universally recognized name that evokes respect for the pioneers who paved the way for today’s freedoms.”
Branding can make or break a business. While many accomplished professionals are working hard to change the public perception of marijuana, Coulter says “There are also a lot of dreamers with half-baked ideas and branding that leaves a negative impression. In this way our industry is also our worst enemy because the press is sure to pick up on what is sensationally bad even more frequently than what is sensationally good.”
Successful branding is the result of a careful, targeted marketing strategy. Do you want to grow for the recreational or medical community? You’ll want to focus your language and images to what matters to the consumers you plan to cater to.
Who knows? Maybe Fruit Loops or Purple Kush will be to recreational marijuana what Chateau Montelena Chardonnay was to the wine world.
Photo Credit: Martin Brochhaus
Get daily cannabis business news updates. Subscribe