With the legalization of both medical and recreational cannabis use sweeping the country, more and more companies are entering the market with new brands of cannabis products. The good news is that the market is always expanding, and even the most discerning users have a wide range of preferences. So even in an already saturated market, there’s still room for your brand.
That is if you can market it well. You can have the perfect product line, but if you don’t have the branding and awareness to attract customers, you’ll struggle to grow or even succeed. Here’s how to position your brand for today’s competitive branding.
If you’ve been following the industry for a while, you may have noticed that branded products are fairly new to the scene. For the most part, this is down to the nature of the clientele in the early days of legalization. Users were able to make decisions based on production methods and could distinguish between products based on strain names.
However, as the customer base has expanded, and buying cannabis products has become increasingly like any other consumer experience, people’s expectations have shifted. What they’re looking from the products may not have changed, but now they’re looking for a brand that matches how they think of themselves as a cannabis user.
Some people might think of themselves as serious users and are going to be drawn to brands that position themselves as a no-nonsense, high potency product. Others are going to be attracted to products that speak to those who are using it as part of a health regimen.
Product Comes First
Before we go any further into how to brand your product, it needs to be said that you need a good product. Branding and product go hand in hand. Just like a perfect product will fail without good branding, perfect branding won’t be enough to save an inadequate product.
You no doubt already have that covered, but it’s still worth mentioning because all this will be for nothing if you skimp on quality or performance. So, if you don’t have your product sorted out, and it’s not top of the line, take care of that before moving on.
Know Who Your Customer Is
We touched on it a bit already, but this is why it’s important to have your product worked out before you get into branding. Once you have a great product, you need to ask yourself who is going to use it, and what they’re looking for in their cannabis products. Not just generally, but specifically. You should have a clear enough image of your customer that you could see someone walk into a dispensary and know with 100% certainty that they’re going to buy YOUR product.
So, ask yourself questions to create that specific customer image. How old is your customer? Why and how often are they using cannabis? What sort of job and hobbies do they have? What sort of products or delivery methods are they going to be looking for? Do they want everyone to know they’re using cannabis, or are they private about it?
Having a complete image of your ideal customer will help you create your branding.
What’s the Story?
Whether they realize it or not, people love everything to have a story. It’s how people process the world around them. And again, whether they know it or not, they’re looking for a story when they’re making purchasing decisions. That’s why it’s so important to understand who your customer is so that the product your story tells fits with the story of who they are.
Everything about your branding should be part of the same story. Your logo, color palettes, label design, marketing materials and advertising should all tell a single story about what your product is, and how it fits in with what your customer is looking for.
If your target customer is a serious, no-nonsense user, consider dark backgrounds with white or gold text, minimal or no art, and a label that focuses on your name and potency. Someone who is looking for medicinal or therapeutic effects will be attracted to more neutral packaging, white backgrounds, and blue or green text and designs. People looking for flavor or experience are going to be attracted to bright colors and creative designs.
It’s important to have all this merge so your customer isn’t (even subconsciously) confused about the story your product is telling.
What’s the Difference?
One of the most important parts of positioning your brand in a market as crowded as cannabis is having the unique element that makes you stand out. That one thing that makes you special (besides having a high-quality product) will help customers choose you and buy your products again and again.
Highlight where your company is from, and where your cannabis is grown. If there’s something unique about your production process, company culture, philosophy, or delivery methods, make sure people know about it. Your customers have hundreds of choices, but a lot of the time their decision is made on just a couple of small things.
Even if you’re not the only one who does it, that distinction can narrow your competition down from hundreds or thousands to just two or three.
As If This Wasn’t Hard Enough Already…
Some branding challenges are unique to the cannabis industry, most of them to do with government restrictions, and these vary by state. So even if you’re just starting in one state, if you intend to grow your brand you should have those challenges and restrictions in mind to avoid having to rebrand later, which could confuse and lose your existing customers.
One of the biggest restrictions involves marketing to minors, and that doesn’t mean just not labeling your product as “for kids”. You should avoid color schemes and fonts that are usually associated with children’s brands and be extra careful if you’re planning a logo with any kind of cartoon-type art. Joe Camel ruined it for all of us!
Successfully branding your product is a lot more complicated than just putting a name and product details on a label. You should carefully consider the who and why of the people buying your product, and create your branding with them in mind.