As cannabis brands now number in the thousands, the importance of distinguishing your offering is growing daily. It’s vital to define yourself through creatively calculated choices that pique consumer interest. The best cannabis branding and marketing creates an indelible impression of your product in the psyche of the consumer. From a certain shade of yellow to a particular font or the words you use, there are infinite ways to mold your image. That’s good news. The challenge lies in putting it all together in a meaningful, cohesive, and effective fashion.Continue reading
Cannabis businesses have been deemed essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a time of responsibility and opportunity for those in the industry to highlight their commitment to their communities by continuing to serve them while implementing safe operating procedures. It is also a window of opportunity for cannabis branding. There are several phases that brands and consumers are likely to experience as we navigate this difficult time and adjust to a new normal. Here’s a look at the landscape, what to expect, and how to think about cannabis branding today and moving forward.Continue reading
As Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting’s Creative Director, I get to be a “maestro of marketing” indulging my digital and artistic passions. I’m also privileged to help orchestrate the day-to-day activities of many of our talented staff. No matter the project, though, my driving force and overarching goal in the cannabis industry is to help enact social change.Continue reading
For many businesses, podcasts are an effective way to enhance cannabis marketing and brand identity – if you’re willing to put in all the work that’s required. More than simply recording some audio, podcasting is a challenging, long-game strategy that gives listeners a window into the people and personalities behind your brand. Before diving into the alluring trend toward podcasting as a marketing method for your cannabis business, let’s get real about all that’s involved in pulling off a successful podcast that welcomes listeners to you and puts a flattering spotlight on your brand.Continue reading
Halloween Cannabis Strains and Horror Movies
Halloween and harvest have a long history with the American culture, dating back to our very foundations as a new colony and eventually an independent country. They’re as American as apple pie at this point, and recently they’ve been joined by a new legal crop that was also a part of our foundation, cannabis. Cannabis sativa with low THC content, also known as hemp, was a staple in the New World, something to be traded and celebrated, a tool to help colonists survive and even thrive in the early days of what was to become the USA. As we all know somewhere along the way this wonderful plant was demonized and criminalized for political and financial gain. A little over a decade ago that all changed as legal cannabis started spreading across the USA once again.
Halloween also has a long history in this country, and most certainly came to us as new colonists and eventually citizens brought with them their cultures’ traditions. From the Celtic Samhain and All Hallows Eve Halloween eventually evolved into the mainstream pop culture of the United States. Many of us have fond memories of trick or treating and binge-watching horror movies, some of us even had to suffer through a whole year to see them. Thankfully we have a gazillion streaming services now and can view our favorite horror movies year-round. Halloween has brought with it many traditions, but none seemed have stuck with me as long as horror cinema has.
We decided to have a little fun this year in honor of the biggest cannabis harvest season yet. We’ve compiled a list of cannabis strains that could have been inspired by Halloween. We picked through hundreds of strains to come up with a list, and we’ve also suggested an appropriate horror movie for each strain on the list. Truth be told we could have made 10 of these lists, which means this will be a yearly tradition here at Higher Yields Cannabis.
Halloween Strains and a Movie! Two of my favorite things. I can fondly remember the first time I saw “The Thing”, and also the first time I got high. Both have also influenced my work as a creative professional and brought great enjoyment to my life.
We hope you enjoy the video and yell at us for leaving off “The Exorcist”. We at Higher Yields Cannabis wish all of you a successful and bountiful harvest season and a Happy Halloween.
Reap what you sow! Be safe and enjoy the season with family and friends.
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In an industry with loads of pop culture references, associated symbols, and plenty of overdone canna-tations, you need to decide exactly what you want to be known for. When you’re part of a 12 billion dollar industry, ask how you can connect with those who want what you’ve got.Continue reading
Uniforms and Code of Conduct Agreements: You Don’t Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression
For a moment, try to imagine yourself walking into a fine dining restaurant. The walls, decadent with brilliant art; the ceiling, intricately laced with gold leaf. The first drink of the night starts off at the front bar as you wait for your table to be prepared. From the greeter, to the bartender, the staff is absolutely lovely, friendly, and enthusiastic. As you’re guided to your seat, you notice a crystal chandelier delicately dangling in the center of the room. You are being sat at the V.I.P. table. The greeter sits you down, places menus gently before you and tells you that your server will be with you shortly. Skimming over the menu with your eyes, your mouth waters from the savory smells invading the air around you. Moments later, the door to the kitchen swings open and a dude in dirty jeans and a band T-shirt, rockin’ a sideways ballcap, bursts out and swaggers his way over to your table. Obviously hungover, he smells like a half-drunk anti-deodorant activist. He stops at your table and, through slimy teeth, slurs out “Hey yo – Hey yo. You thinkin’ food dude or are you just gonna cruze on some booze?”
The question here is, do you walk out before or after you finish your drink? There’s no question that we will not be dining here tonight, nor will we ever bring a client here for a business anything. The deeper question is, how often do we allow our staff to do this to our establishments?
Impressions and the Cannabis Culture War
Especially in the world of cannabis, we are having to fight a culture war to foster a responsible use culture and make a professional industry from something that, for over 80 years, has been a hobby for some and an outlaw lifestyle for others. When patients walk into your establishment (which you’ve taken the time to build out, decorate, choose and stock display cases for, & pour your blood sweat and tears into crafting), do your staff match the decor? Do they carry themselves professionally or are they “bro-dude-ing” the professionalism right out of your patient’s experience?
Some business owners feel uncomfortable setting harsh boundaries and expectations with employees and making high demands of detailed elements like “how one speaks”, as it definitely feels like micromanaging. Yet, in states where THC products are still under prohibition, employees at smoke shops still have to swear on their jobs that everything in the store is for tobacco use or incense burning only. They don’t have a single “bong” for sale, but have quite the selection of “water pipes”. If you go into a fine dining restaurant, everyone’s shirt is freshly laundered and pressed, there is no leaning on the counters or bar, service is friendly and efficient, and no one is being even remotely crass when dealing with a guest. Everyone’s language is kept clean, and professional.
Why is it, that people will conform to those standards when working at a restaurant, but when you ask your employees to make sure their pants are clean before they come in or to stop using slang terms with the patients, they seem so resistant? Is it your expectations and consequences? Bad training? Maybe you don’t yell at them loud enough… I would argue that it’s the culture of our industry as a whole. This is both bad and good news. It’s bad news when looking at the typical person who’s dream life is to move to a legal state and work as a bud-tender and trimmer. They’re usually not as excited about a career in retail as they thought they would be, and their bright, over-the-top, enthusiasm quickly dissolves into lethargy.
Enforcing Employee Codes
For a lot of us who grew up in restrictive cultures and harshly anti-cannabis states, legal states make dispensaries sound like Willie Wonka factories for weed heads. When people get in and learn that it’s just another retail job, it can rot a good apple quickly. It’s also a bad idea to have alcoholics as bartenders, foxes as chicken coop guards, and people who obsess about your product directly over with it. True, at a wine bar you will have staff tastings where staff are asked to taste the products so they can speak about the products from experience, they are also asked to spit the wine out as the go through the tasting so the intoxication doesn’t dull their training experience. Yes, you want your employees to be able to speak in an educated way about the products. You also want your employees to speak in an educated and professional way in general.
It is okay to set boundaries and expectations for conduct and appearance at your dispensary, in fact, as the owner, it is your job to craft the corporate culture of your business. Cannabis branding is not just about a logo. The logo’s job is to give the consumers something to associate with their experience of your product and service. Brands such as McDonalds and Nordstroms denote a specific level of both quality and service in our minds. Ever wonder what “successful branding” really means? Just this… Over the past several decades, the businesses that maintained consistency in the quality of their products and services, are now commonly known for them. It’s really just that simple.
Your Brand is Your Personality
No one goes to Taco Bell because they’re looking for an organic vegan meal. No one goes to IHOP for a great steak. So where does your business fall into the spectrum of the businesses around you? Would people say that your cannabis retail location is the corner store dispensary or do they call you the fine dining of local cannabis goods? Further, if you do find yourself on the lower end, what is one simple solution to increase brand recognition, create more staff compliance, and increase the professionalism of each patient’s experience? Uniforms and Code of Conduct agreements.
Having your brand literally in front of the patient the whole time of purchase will certainly help associate your brand with their experience more than, let’s say, doing nothing. It also allows you, as the one who chooses the branded uniforms, what level of professionalism your employees will come dressed in every day. Instead of doing T-shirts with wacky graphics and bright colors, consider embroidered dress shirts. Instead of telling your employees to wear whatever pants are comfortable, or just setting limits like “no yoga pants” and “pants must be worn at the waist”, consider setting the expectation of “Pants must be black, properly fitted, dress slacks, worn at the waist and held up by either a belt or suspenders”.
Resistance From Employees
You will always face resistance from employees when changing policies like this, though if given a 60 day compliance period, most employees will either comply, or sort themselves out of the mix. After 6 months, the change will be the new norm. As your business grows its reputation for being more reputable, higher level employees will seek you. Just as the quality of your light attracts bigger bugs in the night, the quality of your cannabis branding can attract new partners, investors, and employees who are looking for others who “take it seriously”.
This is where we leave you with this choice. What will you do with your business and brand? Tomorrow when you go into your shop, check their pants and shoes, then ask yourself if they would be allowed to serve a sandwich and bowl of soup at a restaurant dressed the way they are. Ask: if my waiter was dressed like this, what would I assume of the quality of my upcoming meal? Remember, that it’s never too late to re-brand, until it’s too late to re-brand. If you’re noticing that your profits have hit a plateau, it’s time to choose; grow or die. Sometimes upgrading your business starts with upgrading your staff.
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Branding: How To Court Your Customer
BRANDING AND RELATIONSHIPS
When we try to conceive and talk about “branding”, we most often approach it from a strict business mentality. Our machine minds take over as we do our best to boil our company down to a slogan that’s going to be “catchy” or an image that will both “represent us” and “stick in their minds”. We think of it as a way to define our company, market ourselves, or build a following; but what we’re really talking about here is relationships. So let’s talk about relationships.
When you first meet someone who’s going to be special in your life, how do you attract them? Is it their first impression of you? Or maybe, your “look”, or the way you’ve dressed yourself up? Perhaps it’s how they perceive you socially, or generally in comparison to others. Wait! Obviously, it’s all about that first real one-on-one experience with you. Right? Well, with both business and dating, the truth is that it’s all of the above.
BRANDING AND THE LAWS OF ATTRACTION
Now, any basic business person already understands these elementary concepts, but have they learned the art of the dance? In all forms of “attraction”, some people are naturals, some get lucky, some are wise enough to get coaches or mentors. The purpose of attracting is setting yourself up so that you have the real opportunity to build a relationship beyond a single moment of connection. With this perspective in mind, why do we create brands while thinking about our business and ourselves, on a personal level, instead of thinking about the specific types of cannabis customers we’re trying to attract to our cannabis businesses?
When you go out on a first date, are you really trying to show “your true self” or are you purposely projecting only the best parts of yourself that you think your potential partner is seeking? These are some of the traits that we’ve found to apply on a social and macro-cosmic level as aptly as they do in actual interpersonal relationships.
BRANDING – WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Over the generations of branding trends, we’ve noticed that brands have as much of an ability to isolate certain potential clients as they do to attract others. Sure, calling your dispensary “Uncle Jerry’s Pot-a-Palooza” sounded like a great name when you were testing out the potential products, but the next morning, before you file that license, rent that property next to the old record shop, and contact a sign company; you may want to ask for an outside opinion.
The more “fun” the name incorporates, the more it will appeal to the culture of “stoner humor”. The more “medical” it sounds, the more “approachable & trustworthy” it will appear to older and more conservative crowds. The problem with both is not in who they attract, but who they either fail to attract or who they repel.
Still, there is a third option. High end cannabis branding has been finding recent success by using words or phrases that have seemingly nothing to do with the cannabis products themselves, but carry more of a “sense” or “feeling” of luxury or an exotic nature. Generally, if you were to name your brand “Luxe”, french for luxury, it could easily represent anything from a cannabis brand to a perfume, meaning that the only sense the name gives to your customers is the experience and emotional memory of luxury and foreign lands. Combining the right kind of professional cannabis brand image with these kinds of more aloof brand names can present a mystique, sending the message: “Whatever this is, it’s the good stuff.”
WHY SHOULD CUSTOMERS CHOOSE YOU?
Your customers think that they can get what you have lots of other places; so why would they keep coming home to you? Maybe, at this point, you’ve already failed at love at first sight. It’s okay, we’re talking about rebranding now. At this point, how else can we build that attraction? Well, by social comparison. When thinking about how they’ll see your product next, will the items have their own display case or is something used to keep things presentable? In packaging, we can think ahead so the sole responsibility of keeping your cannabis merchandise tidy and presentable on the shelf isn’t the sole responsibility of the local budtender on shift.
When hanging next to other cartridges, do your eyes read the font more easily on your packaging than others? If you look at your packaging in a lineup of others, would you guess that your product would be visually identified as the most expensive or highest quality? What local partners do you have promoting your product at popular events, festivals, & community gatherings? Further, when you are out in the community, what image are your representatives projecting on your company’s behalf? Yes: all of this is still “branding”. This is why it takes a community to make a real business. Some are naturals at this, and some are wise enough to get help when it’s time to take the next real step forward.
BRANDING – LOOK THE PART
Someone walking around at an event with a duffle bag full of hamburgers wrapped in paper towels may actually have some trouble giving them away for free. But someone walking around with hamburgers stacked aesthetically on a silver platter will sell out before the burgers cool. So when out at events, are you telling your staff to “dress comfortably” or did you make uniforms and set a dress code? These are the little moments that matter!
When Starbucks started, their mission was not to make coffee, it was to replace the word “coffee” itself. When I was young in business, an exec from their company bragged to me “One day people won’t say ‘Let’s go get some coffee’, but say ‘Let’s go get some starbucks’.” Hearing this, I thought, there was no way; he had to be out of his mind… and that was my first real lesson in business. Little moments matter.
Having grown up, I’ve learned that when you first hear of a product or new company, first see a new something on an old familiar shelf, see a new sponsor at a show for your favorite band; these are the beginnings. These are the key moments that we work to make meaningful, and potentially form a relationship from them. If that new thing catches your attention once, you may not engage with it, but after the third time, on average, people stop and interact. At that point, it’s about the actual quality of your services and products, your customer’s belief in what they’ve conceived of your brand, and what it means to them.
If I call my chemical company “one-earth sustainable chemicals”, it doesn’t matter what I’m actually making; I’m going to be protested less than “capital-first chemical solutions” (Though the latter would probably grab more investors). Even if both companies manufacture the exact same products. When you find yourself in times of trouble, image can be everything.
BRANDING – IMAGE MATTERS
People want something to believe in, to rally around, to fall in love with. Connection is the purpose of life for most of us on this planet. It’s why we make families, observe our faiths, and live in communities; we recognize that we need each other. So why does your customer need you? How much time do you spend telling people to buy your product versus showing them how you can help them? If you offer the most “expensive looking” and highest quality product, and it’s “marked at a discount” so it’s still at a competitive price point; now you’re doing them a favor. You’re reaching out and giving instead of looking for new opportunities to take. You’re making the same amount of money, but having your product is now a bragging right, so your sales start trending steadily upward. The point here is just this simple; like it or not, “image matters”.
At a lecture, I was fortunate enough to attend, a group of investors asked Russell Simmons, “How do you always know what the next big thing is going to be?” Russell responded, “I don’t. I look at where there is a need and an opportunity to do a good thing for my community, then I do it. Funny, it always comes back to me once others see it, support it… and it turns into that next big thing.”*
Step one to branding is not just knowing who you are now, as a company, but who you want to directly serve in your community. Step two is finding a way to use your brand and logo to convey to the community how you are going to help them. Step three is having a good product and service… but that’s a whole different article.
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Cannabis Branding: How To Build Loyalty
INSPIRING CUSTOMER LOYALTY REQUIRES BRANDING WITH INTEGRITY
The cannabis industry is a highly competitive marketplace – you may have the highest quality products on your shelves, but if your branding is inconsistent or unattractive, customers will ignore you. The rule here is that the market determines your value, not your ideas on how valuable you are. This is where our cannabis branding design services come into play.
As a business, your branding is one of the most essential components to standing out from the crowd and having success in a saturated market. Branding with integrity means consistency across all areas of your business where customers interact with your products and services.
Consider that your branding efforts are the market-facing expression of your company’s vision, mission, and values. Why are you in the business? What makes your products different? What are your commitments to your customers? Your company communicates these ideas through its branding.
Your branding is how you express your company’s personality to the market. As such, inspiring your customers to create a lasting bond with your products and services means that you must create a sense of familiarity for your fans. You’re creating an experience for your customers that is not only elevating, but also unique and unlike the dozens of other companies that offer the same or similar products.
In the cannabis industry, there are three main areas where really nailing your branding will make the biggest difference in how you are perceived by the market.
Your logo is the face of your business and your graphic design (fonts, colors, and images) is the foundation for all of your branding efforts. Your company has a specific style it wants to express – it starts with your logo and is supported by how well you express that style through your choice of fonts and colors.
Are you elegant or industrial? Are you bold and assertive, or laid back and chill? Your logo and graphic design instantly communicates the feeling of your company to the consumer, so take some time on doing it right, because attraction counts.
Product branding and packaging is the literal texture of your business. When a customer looks at and holds onto your product, when they feel the ink on the box and see how its been designed, you are communicating. The cannabis industry is always evolving, and you must consistently upgrade the way you capture attention. Standing out from the crowd depends on how unique and innovative your products are on dispensary shelves, so investing in package design is the smartest way to differentiate your brand.
Generating a committed brand following doesn’t only happen inside the dispensary, but also online on your website and social media channels. Your website is the digital home of your business. Ensuring that it is themed appropriately – your fonts and colors are uniform with your logo, graphic design, and product packaging – communicates style and integrity in your business.
Additionally, how your company interacts on social media with your fans and customers is integral to your success. What you share and communicate on social media is an opportunity to speak directly with your customers and drive home your difference, which can increase sales and ROI.
Overall, consistency with your branding is the biggest difference-maker for success in the cannabis industry. It is your company’s opportunity to express itself in the marketplace, and being consistent, attractive, and innovative will ensure that you stand out and capture the attention that you deserve.
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Cannabis Social Media
SOCIAL MEDIA WILL MAKE OR BREAK YOUR CANNABIS COMPANY – HERE’S HOW TO WIN
2019 is set to be a big year for the Cannabis Industry in the United States. With more states preparing to legalize the medical or recreational use of marijuana, companies will need a sound social media strategy in order to differentiate their products and stand out from the crowd.
For those of us who are familiar with marketing cannabis on social media, you already know that advertising is out of the picture (for now). However, don’t let this deter you from taking advantage of social media for its amazing ability to reach customers and make your cannabis brand shine.
First of all, understand that social media platforms are a marketplace of ideas where businesses that create the most attention around their products and services will win.
The best approach to this is to view your social media initiatives from the perspective of being a media company.
You have a vision and a mission around your products, a company culture and a lifestyle associated with them, and a product that is guaranteed to provide an uplifting experience for your customers.
These are all huge advantages and are the building blocks for creating an amazing online experience for your fans.
So, how do you highlight your company culture? It’s actually pretty simple:
Take what you’re already doing as a company and translate those practices into engaging content. Give your followers an inside-view of your grow operations. Take them on a tour of your dispensary. Catch a little audio of your trim-team as they work diligently to groom the finest-looking buds. Record your head-grower as he dishes out expert-advice on why your plants are the dankest in the industry.
There are unlimited options here, but the real difference maker is being transparent with your operations and allowing your fans a behind-the-scenes look at who you are as a company and why you’re in the business. By getting personal, being real, and sharing with your followers the best of your business, you will succeed.
When you show up authentic and consistent, you’ll grow your fan base, drive more awareness around your brand, and have an incredible ROI.
And finally, remember to be patient and play the long game, because you’re invested in this business for the long-haul, after all.