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Cannabis Branding And Marketing

Cannabis Branding And Marketing

Before the internet, people spoke to each other. I don’t do that much anymore except on the potcast or the internet. For the most part, my day is my commute to and from work, the work itself that pays the bills, household work, video games, and drinking, sprinkle in writing when I can.

I am not a marketing expert, but I did take a class in the Navy, and before that, I worked in retail. Cannabis is a business of culture that will eventually happen in every state of America; it’s only a matter of time.

Each state has its own underground culture with its heroes and villains. Some are nationally known to rock the microphone, others not, but are just as important if not more so because cannabis culture of the past included a secret handshake.

Once you figure out the groups of people willing to stand against the archaic law, you have to figure out who in that group is the respected, the influencer. What horse to put your dollar on for whatever impact you’re trying to make.

Besides using trusted voices, are you making the most of an online presence? You are your own best advocate; This is true when it comes to court and business.

Networking

The great thing about legalization light is that people are no longer meeting in back alleys or having to hang out in a stranger’s apartment. Instead, we meet openly in convention centers or event spaces, trading cannabis experience and products while consuming close at an undisclosed location. I had the luxury of attending one such event, lights at the end of the dark tunnel known as prohibition.

The Marijuana Venture Interchange is a yearly event held by Marijuana Venture Magazine in Renton, Wa., a chance to mingle and promote your farm, store, and ancillary businesses. The peer to peer format in person is a priceless one and a win-win for attendees and sponsors.

How to outreach?

Companies who directly deal with the plant face the most bias. As social media page takedowns come in waves, a cannabis company doesn’t have the same advantages as other products. There are specialty media companies out there that will put your product in front of different eyes, as well as cannabis-based websites like CLN, where there will be no takedowns.

Besides social media, where else should one look? I know for a fact many cannabis companies are going through PornHub with stellar results and some choose to have a cheap Googleable presence like a Yelp account, if you’re in a legal state, you can have a Yelp account.

Metrics and Food For Thought

What are useful cannabis analytics? I can’t give you all the answers here, but I can give you some food for thought. Who are the consumers? They are young, old, black, white, brown, it’s not color nor nationality, it’s a cannaseur. Someone who smokes for wellness, whether that’s battling a disease or a case of the Mondays, cannabis use is about wellness.

Cannabis consumers are your average human who seeks quality and knows that’ll cost extra, so most of the time is willing to accept quality mids at a reasonable price. The plant sells itself, you don’t need flashy packaging, but it doesn’t hurt to have a logo and a social media presence or blog. This helps you interact with the customer and get your company’s message out at the same time.

A consumer is going for a desired result from past experiences, if each time I use your product and get a positive experience, I will now forever associate that logo with the good vibes I had.

Cannabis is a consumable, so holiday metrics will always see a spike in sales of the product like alcohol. I use this as a reference because if you’re familiar with trends, this one is easy to follow.

Lastly, there’s the culture and the history of the culture. Lives are still being ruin in prohibition, and non-prohibition states, Americans are still being detained, incarcerated, children taken, fired from jobs, all due to years of propaganda and lousy legislation. Citizens remain ignorant on cannabis as they did race due to misinformation provided by their Government.

Cannabis prohibition is a continuing conspiracy theory, a law that has no legal basis and has ruined more lives than saved. I bring all this up because prohibition remains a blemish on American history and Justice. I mention the blemish because some in the industry don’t champion for those that came before them or the fundamental liberty that legalization brings, and this is how you can stand out.

Not only be a part of your local community with food drives and other community charities but also the cannabis community. Become a member of NORML, write a letter to someone incarcerated, do something above the rest, and encourage others.

I can go on for days on how to reach people or shape your product for the greater good, so instead, I will leave you with critiques of some cannabis brands I’ve had experience with.

Do’s and Don’ts, and It Can Get Better

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the journey begins

A post shared by madmarkfarms (@madmarkfarms) on

 

Mad Mark, this is one brand that lured me in with the label. When I502 became the law of the land in Washington, marijuana was still tabooish. Mad Mark embraced the Mr. Yuck logo, making it clear that this isn’t for kids. I’m even more pleased to say. This weed is fire.

If one comes with the name Top Shelf, they better be pretty good, and to their credit, I haven’t smoked one bad batch. The niche branding here is not only do they provide that Top Shelf cannabis, but the glass it comes in can double as a shot glass. The whole brand is a double entendre with good weed.

Legit Prerolls

I never saw this brilliant business base coming with quality cannabis in mind. I had the honor of being one of the first to help promote Legit Prerolls. We did a photoshoot and live-streamed as I smoked and critiqued this bomb ass infused preroll. The company started as an infused preroll company only. All contents are from their farms in Southern Washington.

Legit Stream

The Silver series consists of flower and bubble hash; the Gold series adds shatter for the ride. All made from the same farm. It’s been over a year since the photoshoot, and original article, but Legit prerolls are still my go-to, as an asthmatic this says a lot.

Posted by Washington Bud Company on Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Washington Bud Co. has excellent weed. They are pesticide-free and well taken care of, with all that said they had shitty prerolls and by shitty I mean way to small and tight. I shared my concerns with Shawn DeNae, and she considered them and changed the rolls, now you can experience this quality cannabis without having to suck the chrome off a muffler.

Liberty Reach PreRolls, not all cannabis is created equal. I’m not sure of the farm associated with them, but they are the lower cost prerolls on the market and you par for what you get. I don’t write this lightly, I tried their product twice, and both times my lungs and eyes burned from bad smoke.

 

Freddy’s Fuego, the name rolls off your tongue and should be something I embrace with a name like Fuego, but instead, I think it’s malo. One thing that turns me off from this brand is their mascot. I think they were trying to go for some sort of pirate but instead ended up looking like a racist bandito caricature. Besides the bad taste of imagery, the weed isn’t that fire.

Celebrity Brands in Washington

One of the predominant names here in Washington is Willie’s Reserve. I’ve seen occasional collabs with artists like Stick Figure and Green Barn Farms, but there is no consistent celebrity brand here except for Willie’s Reserve.

Green Barn Farms has excellent practices, so it must have been a no brainer for Stick Figure to partner with them. Willies Reserves partners with multiple Farms, but so far, their quality assurance process has teamed them up with good farms.

In the end, you’re consuming the efforts of farmers, not celebrities. Good luck with building your empire.

Industry Insights From Michael Patterson

Industry Insights From Michael Patterson

Listen or watch our latest cannabis conversation with Michael Patterson NHA, OTR/L, CEAS, and CEO of the US Cannabis Pharmaceutical Research and Development and editorial board member of the American Journal of Endocannabinoid. Michael talks about his international hemp business dealings and cannabis enterprise in the United States.

After you listen to the show check out www.uscprd.com and give the Journal a look as well.

Blazing in Washington with Chicagoland native Justin “Rehabbing Fish” Cohen

Blazing in Washington with Chicagoland native Justin “Rehabbing Fish” Cohen

I met Justin three years ago through the cannabis subreddit r/Seaents. Justin was promoting an upcoming show with local Tacoma rap duo Off The Dome (O.T.D) that included a bus ride that picked up at certain locations so you could safely consume cannabis while on your way to the show, an event along the way to an event.

Justin Holding Nutty and his book held by the Author of Nutty

Justin Holding Nutty and his book held by the Author of Nutty at Seattle Hempfest

The Cannabis Grind

CLN: You came to Washington after cannabis became recreationally legal, is that what drew you out here?

JC: I came to Seattle in January of 2016 after the folding of a three-year project revolved around poker and cryptocurrency. The last year of the project I crossed paths with over a dozen cannabis industry influencers in Southern California and the prospect of a cannabis-related project was planted in my head.

The fact cannabis was recreationally legal was a factor in my move to Seattle. After living in California with the freedom to consume, moving to a state with easy cannabis access was a major requirement.

CLN: You have a tourism blogging/writing/publishing background, what’s your media focus here in Washington?

JC: My first commercial project in 2010 revolved around an independent print travel guide publication on the beautiful country of Colombia. When I first came to Seattle, I wanted to utilize my skills in travel media and launched a travel site that had a cannabis information section.

While attending the 2016 Seattle Hempfest, I was lucky to make multiple solid connections both in the cannabis and music industries that are still among my closest allies with my current event productions.

I decided in late 2016 to focus on developing a cannabis media company and BlazingSeattle.com was launched in early 2017.

In 2018, the project evolved into BlazingWashington.com and continued to cover local events and in time started to host bus events to rap shows and other small cannabis events.

In late October of this year, I launched the in-store newspaper The Blazing Times. This paper will publish monthly starting in January and already has opened many doors that were once closed. The Blazing Times is a platform that has already given me a broader range of latitude with marketing, events, human resources, and business movement.

CLN: As social media and most major outlets continue to ban cannabis advertising, cannabis media is more important than ever to guide and inform the culture especially since DOPE (Owned by High Times) has closed its Seattle Offices. How do you see yourself fitting into Washington’s fragmented publication and media game?

JC: I’m not going to lie, I’m still a little stunned at the turn of events with print culture publications in the state of Washington. Just three years ago there were three solid magazines with NW Leaf, Dope and Culture.

The new king NW Leaf is the last standing as Culture is produced from out-of-state and lost its local connection. Dope is now rumored to becoming a quarterly magazine based out of L.A., which in my opinion will be the final dagger into what was once beyond an iconic brand.

Regardless of the outcome, the impact of Dope on Washington is legendary, including the magazine and the people behind the brand, from David Tran to the rest of the staff. The Dope crew has done top-notch work during their tenure as the leader of Washington culture publications.

The number two spot is wide open and the only two players are The Blazing Times and The Weekly Weedly out of Tacoma, the latter being news orientated, non-culture newspaper. I plan to take the opportunity to secure the second position. I’d say I need at least six-monthly editions in the bag and a stronger event presence before I can be the true holder of the second spot, so there is a lot of work to be done. 

CLN: Can you tell us more about your cannabis and music events?

JC: I’m holding seshes throughout Washington with the next one on December 14th in Olympia. My goal is one event a month throughout the Puget Sound and also dip into Oregon. I held an event in January at the NW Cannabis Club in Portland and it was an incredible experience and looking forward to coming back down for multiple events.

Ticketed music events have become an important part of what I do. The goal to step up to a 1200 capacity show with a mid-level star or huge throwback name artist has been set for March at an iconic Seattle venue. A mini Washington tour is also in the works and I would love to throw shows in Chicago with local artists.

Twista and OTD

CLN: You co-promoted a show with Chicago legend Twista, how was that experience?

JC: The Twista/O.T.D show was the first event music event that I had a piece of the action. I put up a good chunk of the money and O.T.D did the heavy lifting and sold out an epic show. I’d love to work with Twista again, he can draw large crowds and is a unique talent. The fact the legend is from Chicago makes it even better.

CLN: You are from Illinois, how do you feel about the upcoming legalization of cannabis in Illinois and do you have any plans for a media project in your home state?

JC: I’m completely giddy with the upcoming legalization of cannabis in Illinois. Unlike Washington, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Michigan, the state of Illinois doesn’t have a deep history of cannabis culture or a highly developed industry to destroy, so the pain will be a lot less than other states.

I think the jobs created are a benefit for many communities and for a state that has so many fiscal issues, it’s a good step in the right direction. At the same time, I don’t have much faith in any government, and they will probably muck it up in time, but I’m excited to see how the Illinois integration shakes out.

I have future plans for national expansion and I’d love to launch a paper out of Chicago. It would be the prime location for a Midwest presence with culture-rich Michigan so close. I’m sure there are a ton of publishers already hovering over Illinois and by the time I get there a handful of decent publications will be found in stores. Competition in publishing is not always a bad thing and it’s a new dream of mine to own an Illinois cannabis publication and looking forward to trips back home to make it a reality.

CLN: What’s your media outlets and social media presence?

JC: The launch edition of The Blazing Times can be currently found in 40 stores in Washington. BlazingWashington.com is currently updated a few times a month and will be used for press releases and other content at a higher rate in the future. The best daily source of updates is @blazingwashington on Instagram. I can be contacted at jcohen@blazingwashington.com for media and business inquiries.

We would like to thank Justin for his time and wish him continued success with The Blazing Times and future shows.

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