Alison Malsbury
by

Now is the time to strengthen your brand to make it a top contender in what is likely to be a $35 to $45 billion industry. Many cannabis companies/brands are right now fighting for market recognition and dominance. Those without a recognizable and protected brand name will not stand a chance.

Sellers of unprocessed marijuana are behind the branding curve. Cannabis is being sold primarily as a commodity. Though there is differentiation among plant varieties, few brand names have emerged like they have for edibles and other processed cannabis products. This presents a unique opportunity for producers to be the first to market with well-branded cannabis.

Cannabis consumers are not really thinking much in terms of brands yet, but that is largely because the industry is so new and because so few companies have done what they need to do to create real brand awareness. With legalization looming large in multiple states across the country, the way consumers make decisions about their cannabis purchases will no doubt shift. Consumers will be faced with choices about what cannabis to consume, and just as with alcohol and tobacco, branding and marketing will influence their choices.

How will you differentiate your product from the similar looking product next to it in the display case? What will lead consumers to buy your Brand A instead of your competitor’s Brand B? Will your marijuana be a commodity sold at commodity prices or will it be a brand consumers seek out and are willing to pay more to have?

The cannabis industry does not yet have any Wal-Marts or Anheuser-Busch Inbevs. This means that small scale producers have an opportunity now to build their brand so that they will have a head start with a loyal customer base and consumer recognition as legalization spreads across the country.

Accomplishing brand recognition and protection is uniquely difficult for marijuana products, however, because it is not possible to register a federal trademark due to the illegality of cannabis on the federal level. However, there are workarounds. For instance, many states will allow you to register a state trademark for both your brand names and your strain names. Note though that contrary to what some lawyers are claiming, there is no such thing as a regional trademark, and it is not possible to register these marks at the federal level. See example #8 in Top Ten Marijuana Industry Red Flags.

For more on the importance of building and protecting your cannabis brand, check out the following:

3 responses to “Cannabis Producers: You Need To Brand Your Cannabis Product”

  1. Please don’t underestimate the value of hiring an expert to help build your
    brand. While the legal aspects are difficult enough to get through,
    making sure your story gets told in a way that is worthy of the process
    — that is where the real work begins. You’re allowed 3 seconds to leave
    an impression on a prospective customer, if you blow it, it is
    extremely expensive to buy another 3 seconds.

    Seek experienced, professional and proven talent to help you build your
    identity, it’s not a DIY project. Remember when you used too much
    fertilizer and burned up your plants? Well, ya…it’s like that. Look
    for pros who have experience building brands outside of the weed
    business. The rules of branding MJ are changing rapidly, the best
    practices of design and marketing developed since Gutenberg started
    turning lead into words is the language your business needs to speak.
    Who better to teach you that language than a person who is fluent? A
    pirated version of MS Paint does not make you or the kid who trims buds
    for you a designer.

  2. Dear Cannabis Business Professional,

    There is no doubt we should celebrate the legal successes and
    the opportunities ahead. That said the time for partying is over and the hard
    work needs to begin ASAP. Call it the “Green Rush” or any other term, this
    market is the land grab of the old wild west with even fewer rules. Firms that invest in developing a brand (it’s more than a logo) now will find themselves in a stronger position when big pharma, tobacco and alcohol move into the space.

    Michael is absolutely right. If you’re serious about building a brand get help. A brand requires understanding the emotions and feelings your audience has about your products or services. That’s not easy to determine and often requires research. When known the brand positioning, creative and marketing strategies begin to take shape. And here’s fair warning, building a brand isn’t cheap.

    One more dose of reality…you are now participating in what’s called “capitalism.” This means the consumer votes with their pocketbook. She/he with the best product might not win. She/he with the best brand does.

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The Canna Law Blog™ is a forum for discussion about the practical aspects of cannabis law and how it impacts those involved in this growing industry. We will provide insight into how canna businesspeople can use the law to their advantage…

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Please be mindful that possessing, using, distributing and selling marijuana are all federal crimes and that this blog is not intended to give you any legal advice, much less lead you to believe that marijuana is legal under federal law.