Have we mentioned lately that we love creating illustrations? Any chance that we get to draw, that’s a good day at the KIND Creative. So for Halloween, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to create an image to help communicate how we’d like to spend our Halloween. We hope you have a wonderful, festive, and yet, chill, Halloween from all of us at KIND.
We are pretty sure that you’ve heard this before… your brand is so much more than your logo. But some folks still struggle with understanding just how important it is to build your brand, stay true to your brand attributes, and uphold your brand promise. And in no place, is this more accurate than in the emerging cannabis industry. Carving out what your brand stands for, the appropriate tone and visuals associated with your brand, is what will set your cannabis company apart from the competitors. And what will hopefully help your brand succeed in what is quickly becoming a crowded marketplace.
What is a brand? Definitions of a brand vary. The Dictionary of Brand’s definition says, “a person’s perception of a product, service, experience, or organization.” We like to think about a brand as the heart and soul of the company, and how customers connect to the experiences associated with the brand, its promise and its products.
So if a brand is intangible and infinite, then how do you develop a strong one? One thing to remember is that it doesn’t happen overnight; building a strong brand takes ongoing effort that will result in long-term relationships with your customers. Having a celebrity name behind a cannabis company certainly doesn’t hurt. It’s probably not too difficult to describe Snoop Dogg’s brand as it may relate to his company Leafs by Snoop. According to a blog by the design agency responsible for the logo and packaging, “they wanted to capture Snoop’s unique personality and style, but also develop a brand that appeals to a wide audience.”
But you don’t have to be a celebrity to be successful in the cannabis industry. It is likely that Snoop Dogg and his team went through the same branding process that your company could as well. Start with the end in mind; ask yourself and your team, where do you see your business going? What are your goals? How is your business going to have an impact? Define your brand’s purpose and the impact that you can have in the cannabis industry as a starting point.
The next steps really dig deeper into the fabric of your brand. How can you position your brand? What is the unique impression that you own in the consumer’s mind?
What is your brand promise? You need to know the core benefit that your products have for your consumers. We wouldn’t be surprised if in Leafs by Snoop’s brand promise it included something along the lines of ‘helping people relax, have fun and know they are getting Snoop-approved (and perhaps tested) marijuana.’ Ask yourself, what value is your brand providing to your customers? As your company grows, it’s essential to provide reasons and examples why your customers should believe your brand promise. That credibility which you continue to showcase with your brand helps to build trust and in the long run, customer loyalty.
Walking through these essential branding steps is key to build an authentic brand and an intricate part of your company’s competitive strategy. Consumers are becoming more brand loyal as the cannabis market grows. If you can define the brand value and place that your products fit into your customers lives, build on that authenticity, each and every day, your brand will be on a path for success.
Next up in our blog, Cannabis Packaging Design Trends. We’ll post that one soon.
It is no trade secret that one of the hurdles of being part of the legal marijuana or cannabis market is finding a way to legally and effectively market your brand while strictly following the label and packaging laws. Beyond the literal legal labeling hurdles (that Leafly does a great job at explaining the state-by-state regulations for), there is the whole next level of making sure your brand is attractive and eye-catching on the shelf. Here are a few quick rules of thumb to keep in mind when marketing your cannabis products.
1. DO keep in mind this list is just a suggestion, the regulations can vary greatly between states. Some rules that work in California won't apply in Massachusetts.
2. DON'T market to children. While this seems straightforward, certain states prohibit even using any type of cartoon-like characters because it can be too appealing to children. If you're questioning if your content might be inappropriate, talk to compliance and design professionals. Don't chance putting out a design associated with your brand that could be interpreted as appealing to children.
3. DO utilize social media, it is currently one of the most effective ways to market marijuana brands. It is also a good idea to read over what the various social media platforms allow related to cannabis marketing.
4. However, DON'T try to actually sell marijuana on social media, and don't try to use the Facebook marketing tools. Facebook and Google won't allow even legal marijuana companies paid marketing on their platforms.
5. DO make sure to include all the warnings and legal information according to each appropriate state on your packaging. This can be things such as THC labels, weight, THC/CBD content, allergy information (for edibles), and more.
6. DON'T think that all those regulations mean you can't also have meaningful and eye-catching packaging. We love the challenge of developing creative packaging that also includes all of the legal labeling requirements.
If you want help navigating the waters of attractive and legal cannabis marketing, reach out to us. We'd love to talk.
We live in a unique and exciting era in which cannabis is no longer something you should be ashamed of. In fact, there are plenty of people becoming involved with the cannabis industry who don't even use cannabis. If you'd like to know more about what is going on in the cannabis scene, there are many ways to scope it out without lighting up. Here are a few ideas on how to get involved:
1. Scope the scene online.
2. Attend events.
There are conventions and events all over the country involving the marijuana industry. We recently attended the New England Cannabis Convention in Boston, but there are many others. At NECANN, we met tons of people involved in every corner of the market, from dispensaries to legal counsel to growers to people involved in making CBD products.
3. Give CBD a chance.
If you're interested in the marijuana market, but are nervous about actually getting high, try out CBD. It's not psychoactive, but it contains the healing properties associated with cannabis. We recommend our client Healing Harbors for high quality CBD products.
4. Find local activist groups to join.
There are groups across the country working to spread awareness about the marijuana industry. We think its important to be a member of organizations that are working towards cannabis education and the growth of the industry. We are proud to be members of the National Cannabis Industry Association. Find your local, regional or national group and see if you'd like to join them.
5. Keep yourself informed.
Make sure to stay up to date on the latest news. If you feel comfortable, speak out about what you've learned and inform others too.
Making your name known at trade shows can be a huge asset in the cannabis industry. We often design spaces for clients that can have a few simple assets like a beautiful backwall banner and a custom tablecloth. These options won't break the bank and can make a great impression.
Other times, we have the opportunity to develop a trade show booth experience that encompasses our client's brand from elements like wood-grain panels to tent ceiling graphics that communicate elements of nature. The sky's the limit in terms of what we can do for your trade show space. Have an event coming up? Let's talk about your booth and start planning today. In the meantime, here's a short video about the design process that goes into creating a trade show space at KIND Creative.
Likely by now, we have all heard about the various strains of cannabis. Most marijuana consumers understand the differences between indicas and sativas. Even digging deeper into when and how to incorporate CBD and THC into our lives has become commonplace in the ever developing marijuana marketplace. Now a new chemical component is taking the marketplace by storm: Terpenes.
What are terpenes? Chances are, marijuana consumer or not, that you’ve experienced them before. Google’s definition is: “any of a large group of volatile unsaturated hydrocarbons found in the essential oils of plants, especially conifers and citrus trees.” Basically, they are naturally occurring essential oils that are found in many plants and even a few insects.
In the specialty food world, we are already accustomed to discerning between the flavor profiles of consumables like coffee, wine and beer. In fact, terpenes are even responsible for the flavors in beer hops. Terpenes provide the same sort of differentiation in weed strains.
Flavor profiles aside, paying attention to terpenes can be good for your health too. Certain terpenes have been linked to a myriad of health benefits. This is beneficial for medical marijuana patients because it can help them identify strains that are better suited for treating their malady. For example, Limonene is the terpene commonly found in citrus fruits. It’s also used as a mood booster and stress reliever. Another common one is Linalool, which gives lavender its floral aroma. You can probably also guess what is beneficial about Linalool then; it’s great at relaxing the body.
Understanding terpenes is just one more step to set consumers and producers apart in the marijuana marketplace. There are many resources online, such as this article on Leafly that make it easy to understand and identify which terpene is right for you.
Why are we--a design and content cannabis firm--thinking about terpenes? Well, one of our incredible clients has asked us to design an identity and packaging a for a new brand that focus on terpenes rather than strains. And of course, we had to understand more about terpenes and what can we learn about them to help influence our design choices. Stay tuned as we develop a new boutique cannabis line that will be launching soon.
Visual content is essential on your website today. Video needs to be a prominent tool in your marketing plan for 2018 and beyond. We love to create videos for our clients and enjoy producing videos that also demonstrate our creative process. Designing attention-grabbing packaging is one of our most sought after services at KIND Creative. Take a look behind the scenes at our packaging design process with this new video.
With CBD becoming a growing presence in the health, beauty and food scenes, we figured now was a good time to pause and get a baseline on what CBD actually is. Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is one of a myriad of cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant. CBD is being touted for its ability to have many of the healing qualities that many medical marijuana advocates love the plant for, without the mental and physical "high" often associated with it. It's become such a hit, even the World Health Organization recently issued a statement agreeing that there are health benefits to be found with CBD. Some of the benefits with CBD have been linked to treating chronic pain, seizures, anxiety and depression, among many others.
if you think you might be interested in exploring the health benefits of CBD, check out this breakdown of the most common ways to use CBD:
CBD Oil can frequently be substituted for other oils such as olive oil when cooking. This makes it easy to incorporate CBD into many of your favorite recipes. If you're looking for inspiration, check out our CBD Cocktails that we partnered with Zenbarn to make. These incorporate CBD Simple Syrup to give them that extra health kick. As with other forms of edibles, it is important to note that these can take several hours to kick in, so dose them on the cautious side until you're sure of how much to take.
Tinctures are often taken sublingually, or dropped under the tongue. Basically the opposite of edibles, things taken sublingually hit you the quickest. If the idea of drops under your tongue is a little too intense, you can always mix a few drops into some water and drink it that way.
Vapes are another common way to consume both THC and CBD. Vapes are a great tool for "smoking" without the painful burning to your lungs.
Increasingly we are seeing CBD being added to things such as massage oil, hand lotions and more. Think of it sort of like IcyHot but without the chemicals and all the natural healing goodness of hemp. The anti-inflammatory properties can help with aches and pain, and can be a great relief for topical ailments such as psoriasis. Healing Harbors out of Maine, a KIND Creative client, produces many wonderful topical CBD products.
It's likely we will see more CBD products come to market, which means how you position your brand and design your product packaging will be essential. We love to create packaging that stands out and help our clients build their loyal customer following. Connect if you want to talk about how we can help your CBD brand.
The legal cannabis industry is still experiencing growing pains. Consumers aren't quite there yet on brand loyalty. It is starting to shift though. Consumers are starting to look for certain brands, especially ones that understand how to create a customer experience. When developing packaging for your products, it is essential to think about your brand story and how to connect with your target audience. More often than not, your cannabis packaging is going to be behind a glass case in a dispensary, lined up next to other similar products. There isn't the same level of brand loyalty and familiarity as can be found in other markets yet, and there are many studies out suggesting that Millennials are less likely to stay loyal to a particular brand anyways. Rather than seeing this as a hinderance though, think of it as a way to continuously capture new clients if you position your brand and your packaging design correctly.
This is where The Kind Creative can help you. We work closely with our clients to make sure that we create eye catching packaging that stands out on the shelves. We know that your packaging needs to command attention and be both functional and creative. If you don't believe us, check out this teaser video for some behind the scenes look at our clients Little River Family Farms and the work that went in to designing their new packaging line. We are also in the midst of a complete packaging line design of incredible CBD products from Maine. Stay tuned for a look at that new creative. Need help with your packaging? Let's talk about how we can help your brand stand out on the shelves.
Marketing your brand in the cannabis industry takes a multi-channel approach. Digital cannabis marketing is an important component but can also be a bit tricky since Facebook and Google do not allow cannabis-related advertising. One way that we are finding it effective to reach new customers is through trade shows. Trade shows are key because they create a space where a large quantity of people all interested in the cannabis industry can get together and showcase their product or service.
Showcasing your brand at a trade show can seem daunting and expensive. However, it really doesn't have to be either of those things. At The Kind Creative, we love to work with clients to create a few key pieces to display in your booth without breaking the bank. Having a few essential elements, such as a great banner, creative back-wall graphics, customized tent graphics, designed tablecloths, or a few well-placed posters can allow you flexibility with design as well as with your budget. Drop us a note when you are ready to talk about your trade show space.
Video is a key component to your marketing plan. Not only is it a compelling way to tell your brand story, but it's also one of the most important elements of your website SEO plan. Video is how consumers are consuming content today, from websites to social media channels. And this isn't just a trend. More than 1 billion unique users visit Youtube each month.
We think video is a must-have for your marketing mix, so much so that we work behind the scenes at KIND Creative to create our own videos for the same reasons listed above. Here's a new video that showcases our design process, from concept to completion. Ready to plan videos for your brand? Let's talk about how we can help.
Before we decided to help market brands in the cannabis industry, we have been specializing in food and beverage marketing for the past eight years. (Feel free to check out the work we do at Skillet Creative). Thanks to that deep connection and passion for the food industry, we were beyond thrilled to collaborate with ZenBarn to design CBD Cocktail Recipe Cards. Their talented bartenders came up with the recipes. Our KIND Creative team designed the cards; and the awesome photos too.
ZenBarn is getting quite a name in the CBD food world and we couldn't be happier for them. They regularly do "Hemp and Hops" dinners in which they partner and pair with Burlington-based Zero Gravity Beers for a multi-course meal. Each course also has CBD delicously cooked into the food.
Pairing alcohol and CBD, we thought made perfect sense. CBD's anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea properties are begging to cure the hangover before it even hits! A Gin & Chronic anyone? Look for our cards at cannabis trade show events, Zenbarn, with our friends at Little River Family Farms, and online.
ICYMI: We trekked down to Boston for the New England Cannabis Convention and it was awesome!
We joined over 200 other vendors at the NECANN event at the Hynes Center in Boston this past weekend. We were absolutely blown away by the amazing support and community all around us. Turns out, we weren't the only ones. Rumor has it, the event doubled in size both in attendees and vendors as compared to last year. Not bad for a conference that is only four years old!
While there, we had the pleasure of meeting people all various stages of business, from entrepreneurs planning their next big venture to established business looking to take their products to the next level. We loved seeing all of the vendors interacting and collaborating to help promote the future of a booming new business sector.
If you didn't make it to the show and still would like to check out the CBD Cocktail Recipe Cards we dished out, no worries, we've got them here. A video compilation from the show is currently in the works, but if you really can't wait, scroll down to check out a few snapshots from the show. Thanks for stopping by our booth; we truly enjoyed meeting everyone.
Earlier this month, I traveled from Vermont to California to meet with a client, and took the opportunity to visit a few of the golden state’s many dispensaries. Legal cannabis businesses in California are prolific and, not surprisingly, dispensaries vary widely in aesthetics and customer experience. As a marketer, it was fascinating to see how the industry is shifting to represent itself in a new ways, and it got me thinking about how choosing a dispensary that aligns with your brand is an important part of your customer experience. Which brings me to this post: how to choose a dispensary for your cannabis product.
From my observations, dispensaries fall into three general categories: 1) medicinal facilities, 2) “head shops” and 3) the “Apple store experience.”
First up, the Medicinal Facilities. These dispensaries align themselves with the idea of medical marijuana and feel like a traditional drug store or pharmacy. Many have incorporated a green cross image into their logo or signage, reinforcing their link to the medical community, and some incorporate the caduceus (two snakes and wings), a common symbol of medicine in the United States. These dispensaries evoke the feelings of trust and knowledge we associate with pharmacies and traditional medicine.
The “Head Shop” dispensaries represent a stereotypical hippie vibe-- more of a homegrown, earthy, peace and love kind of experience. I can’t say that I actually saw Jerry Garcia posters or tie-dyed t-shirts, but that was the atmosphere. My impression is that there are few barriers to purchase for customers at these dispensaries. Their overall view on cannabis products is positive and they appreciate that there are no frills or expensive marketing ploys, just good, quality product from their neighborhood dispensary.
Lastly, the “Apple Store” experience-- clean, modern, simple. These dispensaries appeal to a new cannabis customer and evoke an entirely fresh outlook on the industry. The Harvest Shop in San Francisco, one of my favorites, with artful displays on beautifully built custom shelving, embodies this this experience. From their logo to their “private lounge,” their shop exudes quality and confidence. The familiar, high-end, boutique-y feel to these dispensaries breaks down any lingering stigmas and offers a new narrative for cannabis products.
So, how does one go about choosing the right dispensary? For many of you, the answer might be geographic or you may be thinking, “I’ll sell at any dispensary that will put my product on their shelf.” To which I say, more power to you!
But some of you may benefit from being a bit more discriminating. The answer begins with understanding your customer and being aware of the dispensary experience. Just as they do with your product label and brand, a dispensary will evoke perceived feelings of trust and quality. When you are ready to start picking up the phone, or visiting dispensaries to sell your products, ask yourself, which of these kinds of dispensaries would appeal to your ideal customer? That answer will push the right type of dispensary to the top of your call list.
Called the “Gold Rush of the 21st Century,” the cannabis market is predicted to explode in 2018, with legalization expanding and more big names getting into the game. The door is wide open to innovative new products, but only the brands that distinguish themselves from the crowd will succeed in what is likely to become a saturated market. 2018 will be the year for the cannabis industry show a more polished side to a much broader audience.
Your branding and package design offer a first impression that can make or break your product. And since you want your first impression to be awesome, here are our
Creativity - Great packaging has the power to draw people in, to make them feel good about your product and to convey a shared set of values. The most creative new cannabis packaging in 2018 will move away from literal graphics (yes, I’m talking about the pot leaf image), and move towards innovative yet relevant brand representation. The emphasis for 2018 will be on generating fresh and exciting ideas.
- Customization - From die cuts to hand-drawn lettering, customization of your packaging and label design will elevate your brand instantly. For new or unfamiliar products, a custom die cut in your packaging allows consumers a sneak peek inside and can build confidence in what they are buying. From a design standpoint, customized label shapes, hand-drawn illustrated lettering, and the size and shape of your package can all help to differentiate a product on the shelf.
- Sustainability - Especially true for the cannabis industry, consumers have high expectations around sustainable, eco-friendly packaging. Recycled materials, reduced packaging and the use of lightweight materials to reduce shipping costs will all win in 2018.
- Usability and Upcycling - At the very least, packaging should be frustration-free, simple to open, reseal, and break down for recycling. Clever designs in 2018 will give old packaging a new life as a repurposed product. Think bottles so pretty they become vases and boxes or jars so beautifully designed they are saved for gift giving.
- Retro Design - Vintage designs will also play well in 2018. Consumers are nostalgic for simpler times and will respond to designs that evoke those sentimental feelings.
- Minimalism - In a world of way too much information, 2018 will continue to see consumers seeking to simplify. Clean, fresh, eye-catching design will connect consumers with their desire to declutter their lives and minds, and surround themselves with products that are equally functional and beautiful.
- Clean Labeling - Transparency in labeling is another trend that won’t be going anywhere soon. Consumers want to know exactly what they are putting in and on their bodies. This is especially true of millennials, who are now 18-35 and represent huge purchasing power.
- Illustration - Custom drawing and illustrations will offer distinction to products seeking to convey an organic, non-digital brand. Keep in mind that even illustrated lettering will stand out among the standard fonts. It doesn’t have to be complex to be unique.
- Typography Intensive - Hand-drawn custom lettering and typography heavy design will continue to be effective in 2018. Bold, clean and simple lines using exceptional color palates not only catch the eye, but also convey the idea of something fresh and new.
- Solid Branding - There is one trend that has stood the test of time in design: solid branding. Fresh, innovative and effective design begins with a core understanding of your customer and what your product means to them. If you start with a solid foundation to build your brand, you can adapt to trends as they come and go without compromising your message.
Wishing you all a happy New Year filled with inspiring cannabis design!
Perhaps you designed your own logo or used an online service that didn’t offer much in terms of brand-building. Maybe a friend with graphic design experience helped you put your idea onto a label. Perhaps in the beginning, that was enough to start to generate sales and begin to build name recognition.
As products move from events, festivals, or even farmer’s markets to a distributor or a dispensary, your brand must mature as well. Sometimes, a complete rebranding is in order to better align your product with your intended consumer, but sometime a simple evolution will do.
What is brand evolution?
In short, it is “the continuing process of improving a brand or improving customers’ opinions of it as markets and fashions change.” Your logo and packaging are the first impression consumers will have of your product. What does it say? How does it resonate not only with the people buying the product today, but with the much broader group of people you want to buy it tomorrow? What feelings or emotions does your brand evoke? A brand can evolve in many ways. Simple changes in color palette, font and design adjustments can make a huge difference in how your product is perceived.
In the cannabis industry, the most common (and overused) imagery is of the marijuana plant leaf or commonly called pot leaf. Perhaps you wanted to use this image on your product to instantly communicate the contents, but really, what does that say? Is it marijuana? CBD? Some ratio of CBD to THC? Does it appeal to a broad enough market? Or could you now be alienating consumers for whom the image has negative connotations?
Unless you’re Snoop Dogg or Willie Nelson, the traditional marijuana leaf image is not going to win with a broad market. It works for them because, as celebrities, they have their own personal brand. They have also paired their identity with stunning design elements and unique packaging. But for the typical start up in the cannabis industry, a pot leaf in your design lacks sophistication.
“But, it works for us!” you say. “Our core customer wants to buy our product because it contains cannabis!” Yes, we get it. That’s where an evolution comes in. Start with what you have and build on that with a fresh, creative new perspective. Think deeply about the benefits of the product and the value of the ingredients within, so that you can more effectively communicate what makes your product special. Brand evolution can be an incredibly rewarding process because it helps you better align your visuals with the vision that you had when you started your company. The cannabis industry is changing quickly, and an evolution of your brand to keep pace is a step forward on the path to success.