Tag Archive for: cannabis branding

Meet Dan Serard, Director of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships for Cannabis Creative Group, one of the most respected cannabis marketing agencies in the U.S., Dan has worked there since 2018 and has worked with an impressive 200 cannabis brands.

 

First, a little background about you:

I started working in the cannabis industry in 2018 and have worked with over 200 different brands! I live in Massachusetts and am originally from the Northeast. I spent some time traveling around the US and landed in Los Angeles for a little while, where I became ingrained in some of the legacy market up in Humboldt county.

When did you first start working in cannabis?

2018, when I started with Cannabis Creative Group.

What were you doing prior to cannabis?

I managed sales teams for health clubs and worked in enterprise sales for a genetic testing company.

Do you sit on any industry boards or associations that you’d like to mention?

I’m a member of Cannabis Marketing Association, Business Owners Hemp and Cannabis Association, and National Association of Cannabis Businesses. I’m also a committee member of the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Marketing and Advertising Committee and Co-Chair of the Education and Content Committee and a member of the Rolling Stone Cultural Council.

What lesson did you learn BEFORE cannabis that’s been most valuable in cannabis?

Sales is all about listening to the prospect and learning what really matters to them and how to assist them.

Is there a particular cannabis project you’d like to highlight?

There are many! We have an amazing portfolio [at Cannabis Creative Group].

What’s the biggest misconception cannabis companies have about cannabis branding, advertising, marketing, PR, social media?

Many people think that “if you build it, they will come”, especially dispensary owners.

 

In your view, what is the biggest cannabis branding/marketing/advertising challenge facing cannabis companies today?

Where and how to advertise!

What will get easier in cannabis PR/marketing/branding and what will get harder?

Easier – other media outlets opening up to cannabis. Television, radio, Google, social media channels, etc.

Harder- Competing on cannabis-specific platforms. If you’re a new business and competing against established businesses that spend much more money on apps like Weedmaps, your money is not spent appropriately.

 

What can companies do to ease their cannabis PR branding/marketing/advertising challenges?

 

Take the time, effort and energy to establish a TRUE brand foundation. Not just a logo, but think about your voice, position, messaging, etc. so you can scale that message across all platforms.

 

In your view, what is the most under-rated tool in the branding/marketing/advertising/PR toolbox for cannabis companies?

SEO!!!! The adult-use market is using search engines, just like any other industry, and if you can’t be found on Google, then you’re going to have a tough time!

In your view, what is the most over-rated tool in the cannabis branding/marketing/advertising/PR toolbox for cannabis companies?

Social media. It is very difficult to track direct ROI from social media. It is great to have but doesn’t correspond to many sales. Also, advertising on cannabis-specific platforms. It is tough to compete with many other cannabis businesses and many consumers in adult markets don’t even use these platforms compared to Google.

What’s the BEST piece of advice you give everyone you work with?

Start slow and grow! Find a niche market that really associates with your brand, grow within that market, then expand from there if needed.

What’s your advice for people who want to get into cannabis marketing/advertising/pr/branding?

NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK!!! Get yourself out there to meet people, join groups, and walk a tradeshow. The industry is open to many people, and it’s important to make connections.

 

Thanks for sharing your insights with us, Dan. How can people get in touch with you?

 

www.cannabiscreativegroup.com

Meet Allison Disney, for Receptor Brands, Allison serves as Partner and Business Strategist for cannabis brands who want to stand out from the “sea of sameness.”

First, a little background about Allison Disney:

I love my job. At Receptor Brands, we transform relationships between cannabis brands and their customers. As Business Strategist, I help define the field of opportunity for my clients’ businesses in this exciting new economy.

I’ve spent almost two decades leading global teams to produce award-winning advertising and marketing campaigns for some of the world’s most beloved brands, including M&Ms, Ziploc, Bacardi, YouTube, Special K, Cheez-It, and Johnson & Johnson.

After working in highly regulated and nuanced markets my entire career, I’m excited by the opportunity to work alongside our client partners and build culturally relevant, attention-getting brands in cannabis.

I live in Chicago with my botanist husband, Ryan, and, tiny boss, Maxine.

When did you first start working in cannabis?

2019

Do you sit on any industry boards or associations that you’d like to mention?

NCIA Marketing Committee – Officer

What lesson did you learn BEFORE cannabis that’s been most valuable in cannabis?

I didn’t expect my experience managing global brands to be as relevant as it has been. Particularly when working with multi-state operators, understanding how to develop strategic brand communications that travel well, while taking into consideration local nuance and regulatory guidance, enables us to deliver more effective solutions more quickly.

Is there a particular cannabis project you’d like to highlight?

One of my favorite projects continues to be the art program we’ve developed for Cresco’s Sunnyside dispensaries. As a creative agency, having the opportunity to collaborate with local artists to create an inclusive and welcoming space for shoppers is a dream assignment.

What’s the biggest misconception cannabis companies have about marketing?

The biggest misconception is that “marketing and advertising aren’t possible in cannabis.” It’s simply not true. Brands must comply with regulations, but there are lots of ways to engage customers if you’re willing to think creatively and be innovative about how.

What were you doing prior to cannabis?

I was an SVP, Client Service Director at Energy BBDO in Chicago, and before that a Client Parter at AMV BBDO in London.

In your view, what is the biggest cannabis marketing challenge facing cannabis companies today?

I see too many cannabis brands getting lost in a “sea of sameness” because they believe, or more often hope, that their product experience will be enough to convince consumers to choose them. The competition in the industry continues to increase and consumers are becoming more familiar with shopping in the regulated market.

As companies look to sustain early business success, the role of their brand and how they connect people with it through marketing and advertising activities is incredibly important.

I applaud every operator who successfully gets their product or service to market; that is a particularly difficult task in cannabis. Getting that product or service into people’s hands, lots of people’s hands, and having them come back to buy or use it again is the next, biggest challenge that will determine the success of cannabis companies.

What will get easier in cannabis marketing? What will get harder?

As cannabis becomes more mainstream, companies will have to do less-and-less to educate people on the positive impact of an increasingly complex industry. It won’t be a fast change, but the need to explain the benefits of cannabis to consumers, the positive impact to regulators and the opportunity for potential business partners should get easier. Although, I acknowledge, the [cannabis] industry will inherently become more complex as it grows.

Increased competition will make it harder for companies operating in the industry. Obviously, the struggle for investment capital, the retention of talent, and the fight for customer attention all get harder with increased competition.

What can companies do to ease their cannabis branding challenges?

Get help from capable agency partners, specifically those with cannabis experience and a commitment to staying on top of the rapid changes within the industry. Faster, more creative, and more effective solutions are much more likely when your agency partners are actively engaged in the industry every day.

In your view, what is the most under-rated tool in the brand marketing toolbox for cannabis companies?

Talking to consumers. Cannabis companies are finally getting access to a meaningful volume of consumer data, but purchase data is a backward-looking view of WHAT people do.

Understanding WHY people do what they do is important for building brand strategy, marketing plans, and advertising or PR campaigns. If you’re searching for ways to create a more innovative product, attention-grabbing campaign, or compelling promotion, meet with your core customers and listen to why and how they use this category.

In your view, what is the most over-rated tool in the branding toolbox for cannabis companies?

A brand logo. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a well-designed visual identity, but what good is a fantastic brand mark if no one ever sees it, remembers it, or has any attachment to it? Building a great brand takes more than choosing a great name and designing a beautiful logo.

What’s the BEST piece of advice you give everyone you work with?

Choose good partners. Nothing will be more costly to your business than time, energy, and capital spent with a poor-fitting partner.

What’s your advice for people who want to get into cannabis brand marketing?

Be clear about why you want to work in the cannabis industry. There are a lot of opportunities to work in marketing and advertising at incredible companies where you can get a much more structured introduction to the field. While there are many advantages to working in cannabis, you won’t find a playbook for how to do your job. If you’re not clear why you’ve chosen to work at a cannabis company, you may get lost in the ambiguity that is inherent in the industry.

How can someone contact you, Allison?

receptorbrands.com
Twitter: @apark_disney
Instagram: @allisondisney
LinkedIn: @allisondisney

Thanks for sharing your cannabis branding insights with us today, Allison.

 

Cannabis Branding Is About To Become Extremely Important To Cannabis CMOs and Founders

Adult-use marijuana is on the ballot and in the minds of thousands of people in the United States this fall. Adult-use, especially in California, because of its market size will change everything for cannabis companies. What should cannabis brands be thinking about in preparation for market expansion? As a cannabis entrepreneur, you might be so busy keeping up that you haven’t given much thought to branding.

Before we jump into our 3 tips for cannabis branding, let’s talk for a minute about what branding is (and isn’t) so we’re all on the same page.

Branding: the emotional response the consumer has to your company and products. 
Branding: the humanity of your company.
Branding:  the often difficult to define, but easy to spot feeling people get when they know whether they want to “hang around” your brand.

 

Maybe the most important question is why should you CARE? Strong brands develop customer loyalty and they sell products for premium prices. Interested?

I thought so.

You know what companies are branding masters? Alcohol and tobacco. Technology. Beverages like soda, water, and sports drinks.

Truly great brands incorporate values, voice, design, and especially the customer into their presence, whether it’s in-person, online, or in-store. Notice I did NOT say that branding is the packing and logo. Those two are important aspects of branding. Logos and packaging should not be the last thing you ever do with branding. Branding should be a cornerstone of culture, communication, and position that your customers continue to relate to.

Strong cannabis branding will be a steady platform from which you make decisions on everything from products to partnerships, hiring and marketing campaigns. Cannabis brands need to nurture and develop their brands to be ready for the expansion of adult use. This is particularly important in California where consumers expect sophisticated brands and branding.

So, regardless of where you are in your branding process, it’s never too late to consider these 3 tips for cannabis brands in the adult-use market:

 

BE REALLY CLEAR: WHO is your customer?

Many people hear this question and they immediately think of demographics. That’s fine, be clear on demographics, it will save you time and money. But dig deeper. Think about your customer’s lifestyle, their other passions, and what motivations you’ll be tapping into when they see your brand.

Are your customers proud proclaimed pot users or have they been an “in-the-closet” user for most of their adult lives? If they aren’t open cannabis users, why is that? Is it because of kids, jobs, cultural fear? The potential of adult-use is tapping into the existing cannabis user or the adult whose perception of cannabis is changing and they’re beginning to see marijuana like a craft beer. This is future of cannabis branding-it’s wide open. You can do some really powerful branding when you understand these deeper aspects of your customers.  Do 2-3 customer profiles as you would if you were writing a bio on someone, this simple exercise can give you extraordinary clarity on your customer.

The potential of adult-use is tapping into the existing cannabis user who is in the closet or the adult whose perception of cannabis is changing even though they aren’t regular marijuana users. These new to marijuana customers will gravitate towards brands that are as well-rounded and credible as the other brands they’re used to buying. This is the future of cannabis branding-it’s wide open. You can do some really powerful branding when you understand these deeper aspects of your customers.

To prepare for these different customers, do 2-3 customer profiles as you would if you were writing a bio on someone, this simple exercise can give you extraordinary clarity on your customer.

 

ASK YOURSELF: Do I really SPEAK to my customer?

Now it’s time to look at the way you speak to your customer? Depending on how you view your brand, your voice might be “friendly-let’s-hang-out” or it might be “knowledgeable advisor” “edgy-hipster” or “couch-locked stoner”. There is room for each of these voices, but not within the same brand.

Whatever your voice is, be sure it’s one that your ideal potential customer can relate to. The cannabis market is expanding beyond the traditional young person’s product and while there’s still room for that branding, the market is expanding.  Today’s marijuana user isn’t necessarily hiding from their parents, they might be hiding it from their kids. I hear a lot of cannabis entrepreneurs say that they absolutely understand their market because they are marketing to their friends. Well, that’s a great start, but the average person only has 338 Facebook friends – you’re going to need your business to be a lot bigger than that, so you may have to dig deep and really think about whether your brand is relatable to a larger audience.

 

REMEMBER: Be consistent!

Now that you’ve identified your customer and the voice, take a hard look around at the rest of your branding. Is your branding consistent from the four senses perspective – does it look, feel, smell, taste like your brand? Would your ideal target customer buy and more importantly recommend to their friends? Sophisticated branding will take all this into account.  Commanding a higher price for your product requires that you consider these elements. Set some branding goals for your company and prioritize based on budgets. But do set them because as the market opens up, the strong brands who have developed loyalty will be the ones truly capitalizing on the future of cannabis branding.

 

The A-Team specializes in converging great brands with marvellous stories the media wants to write about.