Cannabis companies that invest in their brand are naturally reluctant to change something they are familiar and comfortable with. Often times, when a brand has brought your company a lot of success, it's hard to think about moving on from a logo, or look, or general vibe that has been able to effectively connect with your consumers. Naturally, people worry whether new branding will cause them to lose that connection.
The legal cannabis industry is only a few years old, and already it has seen a great deal of upheaval and turnover. Companies are coming and going on almost a daily basis, and in many instances, the cannabis brands that dominated a state or region two or three years ago don't even exist anymore. More and more cannabis curious consumers are venturing in all the time, and one of the best ways to capture their attention is with strong branding.
With all that being said, if you want your company to stay up to date and ahead of the competition, you will often need to make the hard decision to undergo a rebrand. The above questions are all good ones to ask, because it's important as you embark on a new era for your company that you are doing so for the right reasons and with the right intentionality. That's why you'll be best served partnering with a professional marketing agency that understands the cannabis industry and can help you navigate a successful rebrand.
What Is A Brand Refresh?
Companies that have never undergone a brand refresh may look at it as a difficult and agonizing endeavor that completely alters the direction of the company. But for many of the biggest brands around, it's just a regular occurrence that happens every few years or perhaps once a decade. And while some brand refreshes are quite extensive, they can also be quite limited in their scope, depending on your overall needs and marketing goals.
So what exactly is a brand refresh. Think of it as a company makeover. For some companies, it's establishing a new visual style for your brand. For others, it's about altering or better defining your brand voice. It can also be part of a new product launch or correspond to a desire to break into a new marketplace or product category. Ultimately, it is part of the evolutionary progression a company goes through as it grows, expands, and adapts to new realities.
Practically speaking, a brand refresh might encompass a new or updated logo, selecting new fonts, or adopting a new color scheme. In some cases, it will even involve a new name or identity. But whatever changes you make, the goal should always be to enable your cannabis company to better connect with potential customers, distinguish itself from competitors, and remain top of mind with consumers.
At the end of the day, your brand refresh should remind your audience that you are modern and relevant, while also being at the forefront or cutting edge of the cannabis industry.
Failed To Invest In Branding In The First Place
For many companies, especially in the cannabis industry, a rebrand is an opportunity to invest in your brand in a way that you should have probably done before you ever came to market. In my experience, many weed companies launched without a dime to spare. The vast majority of their investment goes into their facilities, processes, products, or retail space, with nothing leftover for marketing or branding. While this is admirable in away, it's not the best way to run a business.
When we're brought on to do a rebrand, I'll always ask who made the original logo or website, and the answer is often something like, "My son is an amateur graphic designer," or "My niece likes to mess around with web design." That's not to disparage the work they were able to accomplish, but it goes without saying there's a noticeable difference between professional and amateur graphic design, logo design, and web design.
Quite frankly, for many companies, they had no option to hire a professional for their logo or website when they started out. And in the early days of the industry, a lot of businesses got away with an amateur approach to branding. But if you survived to tell the tale, you also probably know that more and more very well-funded cannabis companies are launching every month. If you want to compete in this new reality, it's time to think about a rebrand...while you still can.
Create A New Foundation For Your Marketing Content
For many businesses, a brand refresh is about establishing a new foundation for their marketing approach. A well crafted marketing strategy should holistically encompass all of the content your brand puts out, as well as every customer-facing touch point, whether it's your website, your social media accounts, your physical marketing collateral and swag, or your in person talks and demos. Of course, very few companies are able to envision all of the possibilities where they will be interacting with the public at the moment of their launch. Especially when a lot of advertising and marketing channels are only a few years old.
A brand refresh allows you to take stock of all of the ways your company interacts with the public and establish new guidelines for how those interactions should look, sound, and feel.
Entering A New Product Category
One of the most common reasons for undergoing a rebrand is because your company has launched a new product line. A rebrand may be especially relevant when this product exists in a new category that you haven't been involved in before. Perhaps your current branding doesn't fit the new category. In other instances, you may want to distinguish your new products from previous offerings. For example, perhaps you are trying to establish a new identity around eco-friendly manufacturing and packaging.
We've been working recently with Grasse on their new solventless pre-roll, with a completely separate brand, known as Biri. This is a new product line for the company, and so we've been developing social assets that showcase a new style and vibe that's different from anything they've done in the past. The theme is based around Southeast Asian travel, which really fits their heritage not only as a company, but as individuals whose family emigrated to the United States from South Asia.
Stay Ahead Of The Latest Cannabis Trends
It's hard to believe that legal, recreational cannabis is barely five years old. It seems like the industry has crammed in decades of change and development in a small amount of time. That includes the level and quality of company branding. If you just look at a lot of cannabis logos, so many of the early companies employed some version of the cannabis leaf (or if they were a medical dispensary, the green cross), to the point that it quickly became cliched. Another common trend was to draw upon the history of cannabis art, whether it was a street art style, or a callback to the cannabis culture of the 60's and 70s.
While drawing upon these traditional design threads is a good way to instantly associate your brand with the cannabis industry, it also very narrowly defines who you are as a company. A lot of consumers in this growing industry do not consider themselves hard core enthusiasts. For this reason, many companies are choosing to highlight themselves as a lifestyle brand, or a wellness brand, as just two examples. They are breaking away from the traditional stereotypes and winning market share because of it.
If you are looking to revamp your cannabis brand and stay ahead of the market, you really need to partner with a graphic design agency that is well versed in cannabis, understands the legacy of both illicit cannabis and the early days of the recreational market, and can avoid falling into the common tropes and establish a new brand identity that will capture the best ideas of the industry without seeming derivative.
Prepare Your Cannabis Brand For Federal Legalization
Finally, with the prospect of federal legalization on the horizon, now is the time to fortify your brand identity. If you wait until after the state markets open up to interstate trade, it will definitely be too late. There's already so much investment and money being directed into the industry, but it's really small potatoes compared to what's going to happen once it becomes legalized at the federal level. When that happens, the companies with already existing brands will be in the best position to benefit.
Whether you are hoping to expand into other states, attract major investors, or sell to a larger corporate entity, a strong brand identity will help with all three. I'd go so far as to say the only things more valuable than your brand would be a large chunk of desirable real estate or you actual license (depending on your state) to operate as a cannabis business. With that reality in mind, every penny you invest in your brand now will pay off huge in the future, but only if you approach branding from a professional and well-thought-out perspective.
Partner With The Hood Collective For Your Cannabis Brand Refresh
Your brand is one of the most important assets of your company. If you allow it to become stale or outdated, what was once a strength can quickly become a liability before you ever realize. In this industry, new companies are coming on line all the time, and consumer trends shift regularly. That’s why forward thinking cannabis farms, processors, distributors, and dispensaries will do everything they can to keep their brand fresh, including updating their logo, colors, and style as appropriate.
The Hood Collective is a cannabis-specific marketing agency that understands what's hot and what's been done a million times before. We specialize in creating eye-catching cannabis branding companies of all shapes and sizes. Our experienced and talented graphic designers and branding experts make your success our top priority.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.