Marketing “reefer” without the madness

In the rapidly growing field of legal cannabis, it’s never been more important to cultivate an audience.

Today is the first 4/20 in a California where marijuana is not only legal but increasingly normal in larger sections of society. It’s not the first state to legalize recreational cannabis, but as the biggest state in the U.S. and the sixth largest economy in the world, it represents a monumental shift in both the cultural and business landscape.

As companies rush to capitalize on the suddenly wide-open market, establishing a brand that stands out in the field can be a challenge. Later adopters may be intimidated by product that adheres too closely to the culture. But set your brand too far apart, and longtime enthusiasts view you as a narc who just decided to cash in. It’s a balancing act.

Though it’s tempting to treat this new market as a wild frontier, the same best practices apply. Just like in craft beer or any other industry, the brands that emerge through rapidly expanding markets always get three things right: impact, information and inspiration.

They won’t see it if it has nothing to say.

It’s not just about looking different on the shelf. The storytelling has to be meaningful. For Just Society, a line of ready-to-drink, cannabis-infused coffees and teas, that means feeling at home not just at the dispensary, but also at the family barbecue. Brilliant color catches the eye, but it’s the seal that’s designed to suggest the fusion of old and new. The visuals alone say both this is different and this belongs. It’s the right balance for a society that grows more accepting of cannabis every day.

They have to get it before they buy it.

In addition to traditional craft beers, Two Roots makes a line of non-alcoholic beers that are infused with active cannabis ingredients, a first in the industry. Starting from a logo that combines the two flowers at the root of their world, the packaging system communicates the active ingredient at a glance. Alcoholic beverages put the beer hop on top, while the non-alcoholic product leads with the cannabis leaf. It’s an intriguing introduction to a truly unique product.

And if they feel it, they’ll love it.

After being recently acquired by a major holding company for $22.5 million, Jetty Extracts—an established name in the California cannabis market since 2013—is poised to make an enormous expansion throughout the state and nationally. They took it as an opportunity to reinvigorate their brand identity with the goal of making a strong impression on new customers while still capturing the hearts of those who’ve loved them for years. With a modern update to their existing logo and art elements that draw from the beauty of the Golden State, this homegrown brand is ready to share its California love with the world.

The secret to getting all three parts right is knowing the audience and understanding the story from their perspective. Capturing eyes, minds and hearts isn’t easy, but the hard cultivation work results in brands with higher growth potential.