Updated: Jul 27
Everyone talks about how important branding is, but what can you do about it as a small business owner? What do we even mean by branding? And do cannabis businesses really need to worry about branding? I mean, isn’t cannabis supposed to sell itself?
Branding is a huge topic, and one that will take much more than a single blog post to cover. According to the American Marketing Association, “A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” Branding is what allows your customers to recognize your company as a separate and distinct industry. Good branding creates a positive connection in the consumer’s mind and will hopefully draw them back to your products and services repeatedly over time.
So how does a small company, perhaps one that is new in the industry, create an identifiable brand? Well, step one is to create a style guide.
A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. -AMA
What is a style guide?
For our purposes, a style guide is a visual document that lays out specific guidelines for how to present your brand across all of your marketing channels and platforms, both online and in print. Your company might also want a language style guide, that creates rules and preferences for how to write about your company, but we’re focused on the visuals here.
A well-crafted style guide should make it possible for everyone working for your company to quickly and easily see how to create visuals that represent your company, allowing you to maintain brand consistency across your website, packaging, newsletters, advertisements, video content, photography, graphic design elements, and more.
Your cannabis style guide will cover every aspect of your visual presence, from the types and sizes of fonts to use, where and how to present your logo, what colors everything should be, and the amount of spacing between elements. The more specific the better.
How to create cannabis brand guidelines?
There’s a lot that goes into design that the typical viewer of your products and website will never think about (unless of course the designs are done poorly). Large companies need style guides because they may have dozens or even hundreds of people working on designing graphics, packaging, and other elements across multiple departments. Smaller companies need a style guide because they can’t afford to have a full-fledged professional graphic design and branding team at their beck and call, so they hire someone to create the guidelines that they will follow moving forward.
A good style guide starts with your logo. Even if you already have a logo, your style guide will include multiple versions of it, and define how it should be used in multiple different contexts. It also covers what your official fonts are (usually more than one) and even what size and weight to use, in headlines, headers, and paragraphs. When you designate your company colors, it won’t just be as simple as saying black and yellow, but the exact hex codes of the specific shades that match your brand colors. There will also be secondary colors, such as grays and lighter shades that are used to accentuate your main colors. It will even layout how much space should be used between elements.
All of this will be found in a handy to use document, probably a PDF, that’s easily sharable and makes it easy to onboard new designers or hire an outside firm for a specific project, such as a website refresh or a new package design.
How much does a cannabis style guide cost?
It’s difficult to give a definitive price for something like a style guide, because there are a lot of factors that must be defined first before a final quote can be given. But in general, a business should expect to pay anywhere between $2,000–$5,000 to produce a comprehensive style guide, depending on whether they already have a firmly established logo or not. If you want just the basics (logo usage, colors, and fonts) you’ll be on the lower end, whereas if you want your style guide to firmly layout how your brand will be presented across every possible channel, it will require more research and preparation.
Of course, if you don’t already have a logo, then the price will be even greater, as the designer is basically starting from scratch. This might seem like a hefty expense for something your customers will never see, but it’s hard to overstate how important defining your brand aesthetic is before you launch your first marketing campaign.
What are the advantages of having a style guide for your cannabis business?
There are a lot of benefits to having a well-defined and well thought out style guide for your cannabis business. Most importantly, it allows for greater consistency across every visual channel on which your brand can be found. Whether it’s your packaging design, website, print ads, or a monthly newsletter, you might have multiple people working on each one. An established style guide ensures that each one of these important points of contact with the consumer will meet your expectations.
Along the same lines, it will also save you a lot of time down the road. Doing the work up front means that your graphic designers and marketing team will be able to quickly adapt to new scenarios. This benefit alone will likely be worth the investment.
But perhaps most importantly, carefully crafting your brand image and maintaining it in all of your content will boost the perceived value of your brand in the mind of your potential customers. When you ensure that every time your customer comes into contact with your brand it is perceived in a professional light, that will bolster their perception of your products and services, and make it more likely they are willing to pay a premium.
Partner With The Hood Collective For Premium Cannabis Branding
Branding is an important part of any company’s marketing strategy, and in the ever more competitive cannabis industry, it’s become indispensable. That’s why forward thinking cannabis farms, processors, distributors, and dispensaries are turning to cannabis-specific marketing companies to craft full-fledged style guides and branding guidelines before they begin executing on their marketing plans.
At The Hood Collective, we specialize in creating eye-catching cannabis content at a price point you can afford. That includes stellar cannabis style guides. Our dedicated graphic designers can help you with all your graphic design needs.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.