The cannabis industry, and cannabis branding, is no longer an underworld. With numerous states legalizing the stuff, the industry, while still flushing out supply-side overgrowth, indicates a continued competitive environment, and with it, the need to carve a position and create value in newly emerging markets.

The trick is the cannabis space is federally regulated, and currently, alcohol and tobacco are the controlling agents. Alcohol dictates the distribution guidelines while tobacco influences the marketing and branding side. What this means for cannabis brands is they must operate within the guidelines. The regulatory environment and grey areas from the Federal Department of Justice currently limits the implementation of distribution that’s required to support national cannabis brands. For this reason, local brands have fewer hurdles to cross on when it comes to packaging and transportation.

New cannabis brands will have to decide which angle they’ll takerecreational or wellness—and go all-in with their brands while creating high-quality content. Since the packaging and overall cannabis branding, including the name and look and feel, will resonate differently between the two audiences.

Educate your audience

There are more new consumers in the cannabis space now than in any other space in our recent history around consumption. On the recreational side, brands can educate audiences about the origins, history, types, and uses, highlight the people involved, and even flip common perceptions. While on the wellness side, brands can share stories of those who have found the benefits for anxiety, sleep, or even medical conditions or events. This type of approach can provide confidence and relatability through the use of storytelling.

An educational approach will make consumers more aware of the options available. One brand taking a creative approach through education is Toronto-based Patio Interactive. The company provides augmented reality (AR) devices for cannabis brands to show 3D models of strains to their customers.

Create vibrant brands

Current market-leading cannabis brands have achieved leading positions through marketing and branding innovation. This includes creating research-driven products, smart distribution strategies, and by spending sufficient time on the brand development and engagement sides including innovative packaging design.

Royal Canadian is a brand based out of Alberta that uses innovative product packaging to do just that. To the naked eye, all that’s visible is the logo and statutory warning. However, when viewed through a smartphone, various clickable elements pop out to users. Consumers can access information on the strain and learn more about the brand through this interactivity. This type of packaging helps the brand stay safe legally, while also staying ahead of the market through branding.

Cannabis branding: Content and design can change laws

Brands that push the envelope from a messaging standpoint may appeal to the masses but get into hot waters federally. So keep in mind that both content and design should appeal to the target while also following regulations.

It’s no surprise that great content and design is the key to cannabis branding. A solid brand can change the way the market sees the offering of a new cannabis brand. And, it can even help shape what’s possible in the future for the space overall.

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