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Brands need to create compelling stories and bring them to life with fresh, unexpected design.

That’s why we are so excited to see the evolution in the cannabis industry. For 20+ years we’ve worked in spirits, coffee, tea, beer, chocolate, and more. Clients include Amazon, Starbucks, AB-InBev, Unilever as well as a range of start-ups. Our specialty is helping brands create compelling stories and then bringing those to life with fresh, unexpected design — naming and identity, packaging, retail environments, websites, video and more. We also have a robust production facility and manage digital libraries for large, complex product portfolios.

According to Adweek magazine, education is the key. “As cannabis becomes a more normalized topic, brands are finding that educating the customer on different strains and ways to use the drug is vital to getting consumers something they like and will get them to come back.”

Branding goes a long way.

At DDW, we’ve been laser-focused on emerging food and beverage trends. The power of branding has never been more important as this market begins to mature and expand. Ryan Smith, CEO of LeafLink, a B2B cannabis marketplace, believes the future is in branded cannabis products. Otherwise, there’s no reason why the consumer should remain loyal to a specific dispensary or distributor.

Canada is ahead of the game.

The Financial Post says Canada’s industrial real estate sector is as hot as it’s ever been and the legalization of recreational pot will only add to the demand.

The country’s eight biggest weed companies will require more than 8 million square feet of space for growing marijuana by 2020, up more than fivefold from current levels, according to a report from brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle Canada. The estimate, which excludes logistics and distribution centers, would be about the size of Amazon.com Inc.’s Seattle headquarters, which houses about 40,000 workers across multiple buildings.

Unlike the US, Canada legalized medical marijuana nationwide back in 2001. That means that the industry has evolved a lot more and is not plagued with restrictions across state lines, as is the case south of the border, where there are 29 states (and Washington, D.C.), where pot is allowed for medical use. Further, Canada introduced the Cannabis Act recently and the bill to legalize recreational pot use is expected to pass by July or August of 2018.

While uncertainty prevails in the United States, investors could get a piece of the pot action by investing in Canadian stocks traded in the country in the over-the-counter (OTC) markets. Most of these stocks can be labeled as penny stocks, so any investment may carry a significantly higher risk component.

Beyond the bong.

Consumers inhale, swallow and slather cannabis products, but as markets mature new delivery methods emerge. Sublinguals get applied beneath the tongue and quickly lead to a buzz. Transdermals usually arrive as patches — consumers place the patch on a body part, and the THC and other cannabinoids slowly enter the bloodstream, for long-term relief.

According to BDS Analytics, Expect to see increasingly more alternative delivery systems as industry scientists explore the plant in greater detail. Terpenes? CBD? Cannabinoids? Potent compounds pack the cannabis plant, and brands increasingly leverage them for specific applications, such as sleep, taste, and energy. Product development is exploding to the benefit of the consumer.

The range of broad retail identities — budget, mainstream, premium and luxury — finds sound footing in legal cannabis markets. And the rise of the upscale cannabis consumer is fully flowering. They enjoy high incomes and advanced educations; live in the suburbs; enjoy the outdoors and fine arts; are physically active; personal care is extremely important for them; shop for organic and gourmet foods; pair cannabis with other products; are fluent in the language of strains and products; value dispensary relationships; and are comfortable with all of the avenues for consumption — inhalables, edibles and topicals. These are dream consumers for many kinds of brands.

DDW is a strategic branding & packaging firm based in San Francisco. So it is with great enthusiasm that our team of branding experts get to witness and participate in this amazing moment in time. Now that the cannabis industry is becoming more “grown-up” — we’ve gotten more involved in brand launches and building brands in this arena. Our team helped create the IVXX brand (www.ivxx.com). Check out our cannabis site: helloWDD.com Perhaps you could use our help? If so, I’d love to show you our work and introduce you to our team of amazing strategists and designers.

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