The wild, wild west of cannabis branding.

wild ddwAs of this moment, nine states plus DC are now fully legal and 30 more have varying degrees of legality / criminality. Only 12 states consider cannabis completely illegal. But for how long?

Everyone is talking about it, from our friends and our doctors to Wall Street. It’s all over the news and all over the media. It’s everywhere. Even Congress and the Feds are waking up, because they smell taxation.

Innovative new products are popping up every day – many with THC and many more with CBD only. There is a deluge of products out there and even more ways to consume it: smoking, vaping, edibles, oils, creams, patches, gums, juices, sodas, sugars, syrups, beer… And there is no end in sight.

Clever breweries like Lagunitas and New Belgium are in the game and we know Molson Coors, Corona and probably the rest of the major beer players are about to jump in. And it’s safe to say that big pharma and tobacco execs are certainly working away behind the scenes as well.

And the celebrities. The obvious players like Snoop Dogg, Willy Nelson and Tommy Chong are in there, but did you know Whoopie Goldberg, Jay-Z, Mike Tyson, Melissa Etheridge and Martha Stewart are as well.

So, more and more consumers are beginning to consider cannabis. Some simply as a recreational outlet, avoiding that next-morning alcohol blur. While many more are seeking new relief alternatives for pain, stress, anxiety, and of course prescription medicines.

There are also probably a few million debates happening every day about cannabis facts because no one really agrees on everything. What’s what? Which one does what? What works? What’s better? What won’t make me high? What’s safe? And what the hell is hemp?

Brands are popping up all over the place. A few will last but many more won’t. Brands like Dosist and Candescence seem to have figured it out and will probably be around for a while. Many others will disappear into the sunset as quickly as they arrived. Even a few that we all thought might last, are going bye-bye. And there are still a ton of black market ‘brands’ out there.

With all that’s happening there are also some huge challenges. Lawmakers and regulators at all levels are desperately trying to make sense of everything. New laws are coming and going and rules are changing hourly, which means packaging and labeling requirements are also flip-flopping in real time. It’s kind of insane. No, wait. It’s really insane. For everyone.

No matter where it all shakes out, there is one simple truth.

Cannabis is here to stay. It’s going to be legal and its going to grow up fast.

So, what does this mean? It means if you want to join the party, you need to do it right. You need to create a brand, one that connects with people, engages them, and earns theirdevotion.

That’s where DDW comes in.

We’re passionate believers in cannabis and all the good it provides – and we’re obsessed with this mind-boggling category and its unimaginable potential.

In fact, we are doing some stunning work ourselves. We just designed Shoogies, a sparkling new brand of THC infused sugars and agaves – a sweetener with benefits that’s hitting dispensaries now. And we’ve created a few other amazing brands too.

Beyond cannabis, we have extensive experience (re)creating hundreds of successful brands in very established categories like coffee, tea, beer, organic foods, and health & wellness. These are all very different worlds, and yet they’re also very much the same. The commonalities are huge, and how they all interrelate, including with cannabis, is invaluable.

DDW knows how consumers behave, how packaging works, how brands thrive, and how success is created.

Here are a few basic rules you should follow when considering the launch of a new cannabis brand.

  1. Be focused. You have to decide who you’re targeting. You have to know who your customers are and why they’ll care. Your goal will be to connect with your them, which is why you can’t be everything to everyone.
  2. Be unique. You have to offer something different. Something special. That thing your customers care about. It’s not enough be ‘organically grown, sustainably farmed and pure’. Product attributes like these are important but they’re not different. You have to define what sets you apart, the real benefit you provide. Only then can you rise above the brand fray and connect with your customers. This is the hard part, but this is where we can help. We call this brand story. The essence of who you are and the difference you provide. It’s the magic.

A great example of success is the Whoopie and Maya brand which targets women by offering relief for menstrual discomfort. They clearly defined the who and the difference. Check.

  1. Be smart and do it right. Hire an experienced and agile branding partner that understands the realities of working in this crazy uncharted land. With DDW’s broad reaching and proven experience complementing your intimate business and product expertise, we can form the perfect marriage. You can learn from us and we can learn from you. It takes trust, open and honest communication, collaboration and flexibility. (Of course, realistic budgets, timelines and expectations are also helpful.)

DDW can help you create and build a cannabis brand that people will fall in love with, will want to buy and will absolutely talk about. A brand that will last. And we’ll do it together. That’s how we work. Just ask our clients.

Give us a call. We’d love to chat.