Creating a brand is not easy. The brand must have both a unique identity and a unique voice. It should demonstrate what the product represents. A brand has the power to influence how a consumer perceives that specific company’s product.
Brands are important to positioning a product; positioning is what a marketer does to the mind of the consumer. Ultimately, a strong, emotional brand can elicit feelings that create bonds so that a consumer will, at minimum, prefer this brand, with a goal of the consumer becoming loyal.
Many consumers are brand loyal to certain items, but brand loyalty is not just about repeat purchasing behavior. Rather, brand loyalty is defined by a consumer’s feelings toward a brand and their dedication to purchasing that brand and only that brand. For example, a consumer who is loyal to a particular brand of shampoo, such as Head & Shoulders, will only buy Head & Shoulders and will not accept a substitute brand in its place. If Head & Shoulders is unavailable at a particular store, they will go to another store.
Many individuals might quickly pick an acceptable alternative brand, and still others — often more cost-conscious consumers — will just pick a store brand because they don’t perceive a branded product to provide any added value. But the higher the brand loyalty, the more effort the individual will make to seek out their preferred brand. In retail, location is generally considered the most important factor, but many people will often drive further to visit a favorite boutique or restaurant.
For cannabis retailers, achieving brand loyalty means offering something specific to differentiate themselves from other dispensaries. This might be accomplished by offering a unique product, carrying a specific brand of product or providing outstanding customer service.
Overall, a dispensary must create a brand identity with the goal of achieving brand loyalty. Given the complex legal environment surrounding the cannabis industry, the brand name has regulatory considerations as well.
Once an appropriate and effective brand name is developed, that brand name can become one of the company’s greatest assets. The brand name accompanies all (legal) advertising. The brand name can become a hashtag on social media, so companies can track conversations around that brand. The best brands may even become icons, and in a rapidly changing cannabis environment that is still in its developing stage, a cannabis brand has the potential to become big in a vast industry. Just think of Kleenex, the biggest brand name in the tissue industry. When was the last time you asked for a tissue as opposed to a Kleenex?
The power of branding is a key factor in what makes marketers successful. Branding must be carefully developed and well thought out. Branding drives businesses, fuels sales and engages customers. Consumers want to use brands that make them feel good. In the cannabis industry, this becomes doubly important. As the industry grows, it is critical for dispensaries and producers to create strong, relatable brand identities to retain a competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive business.