Fact: We are surrounded by brands. From the device you are reading this on, to the clothes you are wearing, our world is filled with businesses who successfully build their brands and attract their ideal customers, like you.
As a cannabis business in a booming industry, your branding efforts become the face of your entire operation. Without a solid brand, your dispensary will not stand out from your competitors in the minds of your consumers.
Everything from your in-store environment to your social media photos and videos to your website copy should fully display your brand vision. However, as with other areas of cannabis marketing, challenges arise with legal and compliant designs.
We’re addressing three main elements of your dispensary’s brand identity and everything you need to know about staying within the letter of the law:
What is a brand?
A brand is a multifaceted expression of your business. It is the way a company, organization, or individual is perceived by those who experience it. In other words, more than the visual identity or even name, it is the recognizable feeling a product or business evokes.
Simply put, brands are perceptions.
Logos, color palettes, typography, style elements: are all important parts of a consumer’s interaction. They have to be developed thoroughly and accurately for your ideal consumer to find you and resonate with you.
For cannabis brands, you may consider questions like:
- How do seasoned cannabis consumers feel about my business and products?
- What do first-time customers perceive when they see my store or digital assets?
- How do children view my packaging and brand design? Is there anything that would be considered ‘enticing’ to them? (The answer should be no.)
Crafting a cannabis brand identity
Your brand identity defines who you are as a cannabis business. It is the personality and values your business brings to the table, and often a key element in the reason you got into the industry in the first place.
If you were to imagine your entire operation as a person, you should be able to answer questions about its personality. For instance, is your business fun and relatable or professional and educational? Friendly and approachable or authoritative and caring?
These characteristics help inform a number of decisions about your business. To fully and effectively craft a cannabis brand strategy, your identity should be strong and consistent, from your brand voice and messaging, which you implement in all your content and copy, to your visual identity, which is expressed across channels – both digital and otherwise.
When it comes to the cannabis industry, it is important to take these elements a step further. For instance, it is crucial to be aware of regulations when designing a logo. Several states prohibit logos and signage that include references to cannabis or cannabis-related products, such as imagery of a cannabis leaf, smoke, or other forms of cannabis like joints, bongs, and so on.
Be sure to check your local state requirements during the design process so you can craft a visual brand identity that aligns with your audience and business values while also complying with the legislation.
| Related: Marketing Your Cannabis Business in Massachusetts
Although it can be a challenge to design a logo that clearly communicates what type of business you operate without actually alluding to cannabis, the industry is full of professionals that can easily achieve this goal while working with you to craft something that uniquely represents your brand.
Dispensary interior design
If you are a dispensary, the in-store experience is a major touchpoint of your brand for customers. This is where they can explore your offerings and really feel the ambiance you create physically.
Those feelings and emotions that are associated with their experience – from customer service to the indoor aesthetic – are a large part of your brand as a cannabis business.
This can be further refined based on what type of dispensary you operate: medical or recreational. For instance, medical dispensary customers want to feel safe and comfortable ordering their medicinal cannabis. They often want savings and easier access to products since they are using them for their health and wellness. Medical dispensaries, therefore, should aim to focus on creating an experience of comfort.
Recreational users, on the other hand, are a bit more experimental. They are open to trying different strains, different types of products, etc. There isn’t necessarily a sense of loyalty to a particular dispensary, so it is harder to have “fans” of a recreational dispensary the same way as restaurants or other retail brands.
The bottom line is that as more states legalize cannabis and the industry expands at a rapid pace, businesses need to develop a competitive edge through distinct branding practices. For dispensaries, this can be done through thoughtful interior design, physical space, store playlists, and even menus.
Overall, a strong brand identity establishes trust and can separate your business from the rest by connecting with customers that share your values.
In-Store Branding in Action
A great example of how cannabis brand identity and in-store environment come together is with our client, Botera. The Botera team came to us with no name, no brand standards. We worked with them on what general brand vision they had in mind and from there, the design team at Cannabis Creative built out their customer experience. In their case, the brand vision focused on the physical in-store experience: ambiance, physical space, playlist, etc.
We worked with an architecture firm, Joe the Architect (JtA), to outline a creative direction for their interior space that aligned with the brand we created for them. JtA’s Creative Director Chris Milne said:
“Botera is all about giving each individual customer their own, individual cannabis experience. They help customers find their cannabis, their way. Some people know exactly what they want so they order ahead and pick up. Others want to learn the ins and outs of each product with a dedicated budtender. We worked hard to make sure the in-store experience felt great for both with a warm, welcoming, natural, and modern aesthetic that can be as comfortable or as quick as you’d like. You can find your plant, your way. Again and again.
“The customer’s in-store experience is critical for a dispensary’s long-term success. More and more dispensaries are popping up, selling many of the same exact products for relatively the same price, so one of the real differentiators for a customer choosing one over another will be that in-store experience. How well it works and how it makes them feel is immensely important. That’s what will create a real connection with them and bring them back again and again.”
Elevating your cannabis brand with media
For both digital and traditional media assets, images and videos are key to elevating the brand experience. Menu engineer Greg Rapp’s research shows that one photograph per page on a restaurant menu can increase sales for that menu item by up to 30%. Similarly, fast food and quick-serve restaurant customers are typically drawn to screens with product images and menu listings when deciding what to order.
Ultimately, this research speaks to consumer behavior and the preference in evaluating products through images. For cannabis businesses with a brick-and-mortar location, in-store screen marketing can encourage customers to purchase products with associated images.
By providing intelligent, responsive experiences to your customers through in-store screens, your brand can digitally engage and interact with customers, measure and adapt to their behavior, and even support your store associates.
Utilizing high-quality photography and video assets goes beyond the in-store experience as well. Video, in particular, can be incredibly useful for e-commerce businesses.
Your video can be shared on YouTube as well as other manufacturers’ sites. A video explaining the product, showing users using the product (30-60 seconds), and having reviews from real people can really encourage customers on the fence to purchase a product.
According to the annual 2020 Wyzowl Video Marketing Report, the pandemic has overwhelmingly increased the number of online videos people watch. With the rise of platforms and features like TikTok, Instagram Reels, and more, video is becoming a larger part of the marketing mix than ever before. Of the people who reported that their business does not currently use video, 69% said they expect to start in 2021, a 10% increase from 2020’s figure of 59%.
The truth of the matter is that video marketing is bigger than ever and brands must take advantage of this trend to keep up with their customers.
Award-Winning Cannabis Brand Strategy & Design
As you can see, your dispensary brand is what keeps your customers returning through your doors. From logo design and type suites to intentional messaging, our creative team can help you cut through the noise and keep your customers constantly coming back for more.