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With new recreational marijuana businesses comes the new practice of branding the product itself. Though back-alley sellers have advertised their marijuana for years, the beginning of a legal market opens up the process to the enjoyment, and the scrutiny, of the public at large. So, let’s talk about some of the ways of developing a brand that’s a viable competitor in this brave new world, without cheapening credibility or perpetuating the stoner stereo type.
Who are you as a business? Obviously, processors, producers or retailers will serve as marijuana businesses, but there must be some story behind the reason a small business begins. As an entrepreneur, establishing a brand must define a unique story for your product or location and express it to customers in an enticing way. Conduct market research to help you determine what your customers find enticing.
Even if you know what you are about, you must begin the branding process from the position that costumers have no idea what you offer. Too often brand messaging can try to relay a complicated story or a cumbersome identity, which leave potential customers yawning or looking away. Be straight forward and simple about why users should care about the marijuana products you offer.
Everything you create from a logo, to a slogan, to a message can vanish with a little help from inconsistency. Constantly changing the design, language of your advertising, or the story you hope to spread ultimately leads to confusion and customers who ignore what you offer. Find what makes you unique and repeat that until the whole brand becomes appreciated by veteran customers and recognizable by newbies.
While it may seem like a good idea to fresh entrepreneurs to ‘borrow’ the language, messaging and branding of other, more discernible businesses, don’t do it. Besides being simply uncouth, and potentially illegal, it also makes a small business appear unprofessional to unknowing customers. Essentially, it reeks of having nothing new to offer. And as new strains or retail stores establish themselves, users may look for a different or smaller experience than that given by bigger brands.
Sure, you and everyone involved with the industry takes recreational marijuana seriously, but a very large chunk of the incoming market will approach its usage with a certain skepticism. The new legality will attract many who cautiously resided on the fence for years and now, with an earnest curiosity, they survey the landscape looking for their first experience. Brands, again, should act like consumers are completely unaware of the business. Recreational marijuana brands should provide a welcoming, interesting and attractive package to long-time users and cautious newcomers alike. This inclusive rule will allow the brand to appeal to the widest audience.
At the same time, treat potential customers with respect. While they don’t know anything about your business, they often know more than you would expect. Also, don’t pander to the stereotype of the whacked-out stoner. That is but a tiny niche of the audience who now have an interest in using marijuana. Pandering to that crowd will isolate all the other people that might want to try your products and possibly make your brand their favorite. Developing a brand for any product is never easy. While the lack of a history makes marijuana branding all the more tricky, it also now offers a wide-open space for new brands to rise to the top. Follow these beginning rules so that at the very least you start out on the right foot.
Get Branding Bud: The Commercialization of Cannabis from our very own Chief Brand Officer, David Paleschuck!