Launching a new brand is much different than developing a brand—one is strategic and one is tactical. You have to make sure you have a brand that is truly reflective of the cannabis business you are in. Having said that, most people have not revamped their branding in too long. A brand refresh should start with an honest and strategic review of how your cannabis business may have changed over time and what your aspirations are for the business in the future. Are these changes reflected in your brand values and attributes? The extent of these changes may well determine whether you need to approach the updates as a refresh or a rebrand… they are different.
I see a lot of cannabis companies that need to bring their product names into their brand names. Pay tribute to your parent company. It all goes full circle. Sometimes it’s things as simple as evolving your logo. This is so often overlooked. No, it won’t ruin your branding. Yes, it will keep you innovative. I’m not saying you have to do a complete revamp. I said, “evolve”.
How do you know it’s time for a rebrand?
Is your brand story still relevant?
Undertaking an audit of your current offering of digital and printed assets and asking if they reflect not only the ‘who’ of your cannabis business and brand but the ‘what’ of all the great work you have been doing. Is it time to change the story to match? Some changes may be obvious and quick and easy to make – others may require further thought and research. How has your customer base changed? How can you encompass these insights into a targeted brand story?
Dated look and feel [logo, website, communications]
You know it as soon as you see it. There are some excellent cannabis B2B’s out there who are doing brilliant work, but haven’t yet found the time to invest in updating their marketing materials, logos and websites to match. This is reflected in dated designs, colors, stock images, content across your website and even language & tag lines that are just plain out of touch!
Internal business changes
“If your firm now looks different on the inside, it also needs to look different on the outside” (Spur). Where there have been significant changes such as a merger, acquisition, new leadership, cultural transformation or removal/addition of market and product offerings then it is a good idea to revisit and reassert your cannabis brand. This is a proactive and practical way to communicate changes to your external audience as part of a comprehensive communications plan.
Do you stand out from the competition?
How do you measure up in comparison to your competitors? Or maybe this time it’s not about measuring up and more about doing something a little different. Many cannabis B2Bs tend to have a more ‘serious’ appeal with dark colors and technical language more popular in the late 90’s and early ‘00’s. A splash of color and ‘on trend’ creative design principals can give digital assets a great new look that you clients will love.
Does brand consistency require attention?
Will your customers experience be of a consistently high standard across all touch-points? Walk in your customers shoes and critical evaluate whether you are delivering consistently – many organizations focus on a few key areas and get busy and forget about the rest. Cannabis B2Bs also need to recognize the importance of internal communications and how this reinforces your brand to your employees. Rolling out new business cards, email signatures, presentation and proposal templates, etc. all impact the way your brand is perceived can create a sense of pride amongst internal teams.
The important part:
When you look at the buying priorities of today’s cannabis consumer, you really need to have a two-sided model when it comes to your brand promise and your brand obligation. Number one, you are expected to deliver products and services that help solve problems for your customers while bringing true value. The other half of it is, how are we creating an emotional connection with our buyers? The best way we can do that is by taking our products and services to not only solve the problems our customers are experiencing on a daily basis, but also taking that and solving problems on a much higher level as well.
Believe it or not, emotion plays a part in cannabis B2B purchasing, not just B2C. Everyone categories their buyers, but I believe it will be hard to live in that world much longer. The blurred lines are occurring more rapidly than ever between a B2B buyer and a consumer buyer because at the end of the day, we are all consumers and one thing that the millennial generation in particular is teaching us is that buying decisions are being made more and more through the lens of what matters to a person. In other words, what organization can I go to which will truly be a partner of mine? What organization will give back to the world? What organization can I go to that allows me to feel like I’m part of a community? That’s the other part of a cannabis brand that I think is very important, whereas companies are spending a huge amount of time focused on products and services, which they should be, but I feel like where the most differentiation will occur is on the other side of your brand promise which is how your creating trust and a sense of community that your buyers truly want to be a part of.
At the end of the day, every end user is an influencer that will enable the business decision maker to meet his or her goals.
Let me be clear about something: rebranding is not just a creative exercise. It’s not just about updating your logos and colors although that’s a part of it; it’s a complete update of your company’s foundational positioning, messaging and brand essence based on your corporate strategy. As such, it’s critical to get it right.