Cannabis Branding for Beginners
Your brand is more than just a logo and a name – it encompasses so much more.
The marketplace for legal cannabis is taking off exponentially. More and more entrepreneurs are taking the plunge and starting their own businesses. Branding is typically one of the biggest hurdles cannabis startups face.
One of the reasons why some of the top agencies charge six-figure sums to get their branding right is because there are some complexities. Branding is not automatically intuitive. Not many startups want to invest as much as $100,000 to improve upon their brands. But there is a solution. The below article will explain everything you need to know about starting your own cannabis business.
What’s a Brand?
A brand is not the same as your company’s logo or name. The logo and name represent your brand. A brand is equal parts what they can feel emotionally and what people can sense by seeing, touching, or hearing. Brands convey messages to your customers, future investors, or potential employees. It’s the lasting impression people will always remember whenever they think of the name of your company and look for its logo.
When a cannabis branding agency starts shaping a brand, they tend to ask a lot of funny questions. But it is very important to personify your company. Imagine your company having a personality – you want to build a brand that will interact well with the market using that same personality. Brands people can identify with are attributed to friendliness, trustworthiness, being knowledgeable about your brand, your ambitiousness, and the brand’s quality.
It’s a good idea to give your brand human character traits that are relatable when you start crafting your brand. These traits should decide how people might distinguish or interact with the brand. What types of people will interact with your company’s services or products? What features are most important to them? Customers appreciate brands that are friendly and trustworthy while providing quality products. Manufacturers, on the other hand, want knowledgeable vendors. This should make some sense to you.
Logos and Names
One place where the cannabis industry struggles in branding is with names that are centered around a lengthy list of clichéd terms. You might already know these terms, but others might not. A partial list of some of the most overused words you should avoid using in your brand include: weed, smoke, root, MJ, Mary, marijuana, legal, leaf, kind, joint, high, herb, grow, green, flower, chronic, cannabis, canna, bud, blunt, blossom, bloom, and 420. Derivatives of these words should not be used either.
Likewise, images of green crosses and cannabis leaves are overused in visual branding along with the color green. There’s a lot of green visual branding in cannabis, therefore, almost any other color will stand out.
It’s imperative that both your product brand and your company names are unique. The majority of cannabis companies begin their operations in select legal state markets. Your name might be entirely unique in the state that you plan to sell cannabis, but is that name also unique in other states too? Your brand won’t be trademarked if you build your name around a list of overused words. In fact, it will make your name expensive, challenging, and next to impossible to register.
Some of the best names are made up rather than smashing a random word into a cannabis-related term. Words that are completely made up are always best. If a dot-com website address can be reserved for it, you’re headed in the right direction. You can also search the U.S. Patent and Trademark database to find out which trademarks are already being used.
Bear in mind that most English language words can rarely be trademarked, meaning there are likely many companies using the same name in a number of different states. In that case, there’s really nothing you can do about it. If you want to expand your market and you are one of the second “Canna Consultants” to enter a particular state, you’ll likely have to change your brand name.
You finally need to understand that your brand is inherent to everything your company does and has. Your employees are part of the brand and should be courteous, well-trained, and professional at all times. If they are, your brand will be highly regarded. If your employees are not capable of answering any questions customers might have and are rude, your brand will not survive.
Once a brand is broken, it takes a lot more money and time to repair it than it does to protect your reputation. Here are some things to think about:
• Product Names: Are your names instinctive? Example: Do you know what kind of product an SUS10-A4 is? (hint – it’s a vape cartridge)
• Your Brand’s Name Appeal: Does your branding appeal more broadly to older medical patients, first-time users, or social users or does it appeal to cannabis power users?
• Customer Service: The most overlooked and most important part of your brand is direct communication between your customers and your brand. This part of your brand should be continuously perfected.
• Consistency: When you’re describing your company and the products it offers, keep the language standardized, the color scheme used on all of your marketing materials, and the naming conventions of your product offerings.
• Accessibility: Have a solid-built website with easy, intuitive navigation and copy that’s well-written. Also, make it easy for your company to be discovered.
And that’s it. If you follow these helpful tips, you should be able to build a successful cannabis brand.