Your business is your brand. Cannabis branding is overlooked too often by business owners. Most business owners will start with the website first. Then they’ll develop a logo, business cards, and product packaging. The problem with this approach is that there isn’t a coherent strategy and messaging between these pieces. That’s why you need to start by developing your brand strategy for your cannabis business. Want to know how to do it? Read on to learn how you can create a brand strategy for your cannabis business.
What is a Brand?
A brand is more than your logo, it’s more than a what’s on your website. A brand is a promise.That’s the simplest way to describe what a brand is. It’s the emotional connection that people have with your company. A logo is the visual representation of your brand’s promise.Branding is a huge part of any business. It’s what creates unity among your employees. A brand relays what your cannabis business stands for. Branding also influences customer purchases. People are more likely to buy from a brand that they know and trust.
You still think that brands don’t matter? Think about the cereal you ate when you were a kid. Maybe it was Cheerios or Frosted Flakes. When you think about that now, you feel a little nostalgic about Tony the Tiger. That’s not because the sugary cereal was a great product. It’s because you had an emotional connection to it. That’s the type of connection you want to achieve with your brand.
Brand Development Strategy
A brand development strategy is a process you go through to create your brand. It is a process, but this process lays the foundation for your business’ identity.
These are the steps you need to take to create your brand development strategy.
1. Business Strategy
Get clear about your business strategy and you’ll get clear about your brand. Cannabis branding really comes down to the type of business you want to create. Do you want to be a big cannabis corporation? Your brand should reflect that. Do you want your business to be the neighborhood shop that is accessible and a great place to enjoy a quality bud? Then your brand should be accessible and fun. Having this level of clarity about your business and what you want it to become will help you create your brand.
2. Target Market
You need to understand your target market. Your customers are the basis of your cannabis branding. Your customers have a self-concept. This is how they think of themselves. They have an image of themselves, whether it’s real or not. It’s how they want the world to perceive them. If someone has a self-concept that they’re rich and important, you would see them drive around in a car like a Lamborghini.When people make a purchase, that product is aligned with their self-concept.The more your brand is congruent with your customers’ self-image, the more they can relate to your cannabis brand. The more they can relate to your brand, the more they will buy from you.
They use your product to say something positive about themselves. That’s why you see mediocre products have such a strong following. It’s never about the quality of a product, but it’s always about the brand.
These questions will help you uncover your target market’s self-image.
- When compared to other cannabis users, how does your target customer see themselves?
- What are their outside influences? This could be friends, family, music, celebrities, or even Instagram influencers.
- Who would they like to be like?
- What do they hide about themselves?
- How do they feel about themselves?
Once you have their self-image down, you can add demographic info like where they live and where they shop. What restaurants they enjoy and what books they read are also ways to understand your customer.
3. Market Research
After you create your customer’s self-image and demographic information, you want to do more market research to confirm your findings. Right now, your target market is based on assumptions. You want to have data that says that your assumptions are correct. There are a few ways to do market research. You could survey your current customers or put out a survey on social media. You’ll want to know what they want from cannabis suppliers and what they’re not getting from your competitors. You can ask them how they feel about other brands in the market.
There are two key questions you’ll also need the answer to. 1.) Who is your target demographic? 2.) How can your business fill their needs? Is it worth the time to do this research? Companies that do market research are about twice as profitable as ones who don’t.
4. Brand Positioning
After you’ve done that research, guess what? It’s time for more research. Before your eyes roll to the back of your head, remember why you’re doing this. You’re building the foundation of your business. It’s a business you’re going to spend a lot of hours in. You might as well do it right.Doing it right requires that you know about your competitors and how your business stacks up against them.
You’ll then be able to position yourself in the marketplace that sets your business apart from everyone else. California has over 6,000 cannabis businesses. Positioning your business in a way that sets your business apart will free you from having to explain to customers how your business is different from everyone else. They’ll just know it.
When you research your competitors check to see how they position themselves based on quality and price. Some may offer high-quality products for high prices. Others may have high-quality prices that cost less. You’ll want to note where you want to be positioned in the market.
You’ll take all of this and create a brand positioning statement. This one sentence sums up what you offer, for whom, your brand promise, and how you deliver on that promise. When Zipcar first hit the market, it’s brand positioning statement was this:
To urban-dwelling, educated techno-savvy consumers, when you use Zipcar car-sharing service instead of owning a car, you save money while reducing your carbon footprint.
You know exactly who they serve, why they would use Zipcar, and how it’s different from the competition.
You Can Now Create Your Visuals
At this point in the process, you probably want to create your logo and website already. You do have a foundation of what your brand is, now it’s time to create the visual identity of the brand. That means you can create your logo, website, and marketing collateral.
That’s easier said than done.
Your logo is everything you’ve learned about your business in this process distilled into a small image. You have about 10 seconds to make a first impression, and it needs to be great. The color, typography, shape, and icons all play a role in shaping the customer’s perception of what your brand is. You’ll be tempted to use a pot leaf, joint, or a bong in your log, along with the color green. Stay away from these obvious choices because you’re going to look like every other cannabis company in the area.
The goal of your logo should be to be original, simple, and correspond with your business vision and brand personality.
After you complete this project, you can then work on your brand style guide. This is how your brand usage will be consistent throughout each marketing channel. This will be important as your business expands and you have a team of people doing marketing.
If you want to see a good example of a style guide, check out this one from Nike Football.
Cannabis packaging is just as important as everything else you’ve done in creating your brand strategy. Of course, you’re going to follow everything in your style guide. You also want your packaging to be the first step in how your product and brand are experienced.
What kind of experience do you want to create for your customers? Do you want to create an experience that’s sleek and simple? When you start thinking about products you buy, look at the packaging. Is it bright and cheerful? How is the brand reflected?
Your packaging design can have an impact on sales. When MillerCoors released the retro can of Miller Light sales increased 5% in a down market.
Cannabis Branding the Right Way
Cannabis branding goes beyond your logo. Your brand is a promise and a first step in creating trust with your customers. It’s a way to tell people what your business is about, how your company is like your customers, and why they should do business with you.
The team at Lit Consulting specializes in helping cannabis companies tell their brand story. We can help your business create a brand strategy, design a logo, website, and much more. If you need help creating your brand story, contact us today.