Cannabis Branding. Because It Is Important.

For better or for worse (we say for better) legalizing recreational marijuana is going mainstream. This gives rise to the question of whether a “re-branding” of the cannabis industry is necessary to get soccer moms and professionals to go to State licensed dispensaries in droves?

In “Does marijuana need a rebranding to move into the mainstream?” Public Radio International asks whether rebranding marijuana is necessary to get it into the mainstream. Though we think PRI is a little late in raising this issue as we think marijuana is already pretty mainstream, we still found the article very interesting in that it relates what a top brand management company, Original Champions of Design thinks will be required to make a marijuana culture more corporate, and how changing the marijuana culture will in turn change society’s existing perceptions of marijuana.

In the article, the Original Champions of Design break down what they think it will take to re-brand a marijuana company and its products to appeal more to “mainstream” consumers:

OCD begins its design process by conducting a “market overview” of the product, starting by examining the various names and slang terms for marijuana. OCD then identifies three “audience categories” with potential to buy into mainstream cannabis: “Wellness freaks,” “lean-in moms,” and “foodies.”

OCD then looks at the key question of how to successfully package your products to capture the category of consumers you want.

OCD would present marijuana to “wellness freaks” as the new “organic.” For lean-in moms, who are always on the lookout for the best product, OCD proposes seeking to “replace that end-of-day glass of wine with the end-of-day glass of pot?” As for “foodies,” OCD thinks sees the way to their hearts foodies as fairly obvious to anyone familiar with pot’s side effects. Foodies like to eat. Marijuana increases your appetite. So just suggest incorporating pot into their hors d’oeuvre.

OCD then discussed imagery and logos — the good stuff for which you can get a trademark. For this, OCD manipulated the shape and color of your typical marijuana leaf and turned it into what PRI accurately describes as something akin to a purple asterisk. Though probably not the logo for everyone, it is a nice new take on a classic image and certainly a step up from the usual logo fodder associated with “getting high.”

OCD then turned to generating slogans that would appeal to “lean-in moms, foodies, and wellness freaks.” OCD tells us that “bringing marijuana to these demographics is all about consciousness” and so instead of trying to rename marijuana, cannabis businesses should focus on “repositioning” the experience.

Marijuana “re-branding” is going to be necessary if cannabis businesses want their businesses and marijuana as a whole to be taken seriously in the face of reefer madness proponents and heavy-handed State regulation. Serious businesses get government approvals and bank loans, while businesses viewed as propagating illicit behavior usually do not. This gets us back to something we often discuss on this blog: the need for all of us in the cannabis industry to be ever mindful that the reputation of the cannabis industry as a whole rests at least in part on every cannabis product sold.