Think of some of your favorite brands and why you like them. The most successful branding efforts bring connections to you, they speak to your heart, not talk at your head. We humans act according to the way we feel, so if you can make people feel a certain way they’ll stick with you. To make this happen you must understand and embrace your “why.” Why does your company exist? If your why is at the core of your brand it separates you from every other company that does what you do. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
When a brand creates an experience or evokes an emotion repeatedly, over time it builds loyalty and therefore consumer loyalty. If you have a core purpose frame your identity, as opposed to tying your brand solely to the actual product, and you set yourself up for success and longevity. Take for example, the Kenneth Cole brand. Through focused branding, it has been donating a percentage of profits to AIDS research and awareness since 1985, so people feel like they’ve done something good when they spend their hard-earned dollars with Kenneth Cole. They aren’t just selling footwear and handbags. This is a perfect example of a purpose-led brand that ties its purpose to a singular tactic. Bissell is another fine example with its Bissell Pet Foundation. A portion of profits from this corporation go to helping homeless pets. You see branding is not just a logo and template to follow for all advertising. It is looking at what your relevance, coherence and credibility are. Link your brand to a perceived positive impact and you’ve got something that separates you from the rest of the businesses in your community.
Emotion inspires action and branding is the key!
This is where amplification comes into play. It is not sufficient to just push out content. You need to amplify your message by using the media, advocacy, influencers, native social media and advertising where you can. Most platforms have very specific rules about cannabis advertising, but it can still be done and being newsworthy and relevant helps with amplification.
Deep down the cannabis consumer wants more than to just buy weed. They can do that almost anywhere these days. Your employees want to do more than just sell weed. The attrition rate is just as high in the cannabis industry as it is in the restaurant industry. So how do you get good people to stay and not jump ship for the highest (pardon the pun) bidder and keep customers coming back regardless of what deals are going on down the street? People want something to identify with, so what resonates with them will sell them. Express what you stand for, so it does some actual good. You gotta live it! The people that work for you need to be inspired by it and that feeling will translate when they interact with your customers.
This is particularly true in cannabis public relations and marketing. Redemption Cannabis in Jackson, Michigan is a perfect example of a cannabis company with a purpose. Ten percent of all revenue goes to those affected by the war on cannabis. These funds are mostly used in cannabis conviction expungement efforts. On a national level, Ocean Cannabis is a brand committed to ending the cannabis plastic problem. By sourcing their packaging from 100% reclaimed and recycled plastic found in oceans, each product purchase recovers the equivalent of fifteen straws or one water bottle worth of recycled plastic. Their goal is to “smoke the ocean clean, one joint at a time.”
Humor goes a long way when you’re trying to connect with a person or group of people too. You know that person that wasn’t that attractive to you at first, but then became more attractive as you got to know them better because they were kind, funny, clever, compassionate, smart, etc? Your brand is no different. Make people laugh—because cannabis consumption is for better health and fun! Humor creates a sense of intimacy before they even walk in the door. From there you can create retention with stellar customer service, ambiance and products.
What’s Your Plan?
Do you have an actual corporate business purpose statement? Is that statement backed by a solid activation strategy? You planned for your cultivation and/or retail store, but how about your brand. How much went into developing what the consumer recognizes your product as? Noteworthy advice: Transcend the ego of your bottom line, your investors, the pressure of outdoing everyone. Stand for something that speaks to people like they are actual human beings, not just dollars.
Decide your purpose. Mean it. Stand by it. Seek the assistance of marketing and public relations professionals to build your brand. You are good at what you do and we are good at helping you express to consumers why you do it.