What exactly is branding? The term seems fairly broad, and is usually grouped in lazily with marketing and advertising, but according to Online Marijuana Design, a company that specializes in branding for the cannabis industry, it is paramount to success. Their mantra:
“Your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors’. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be, and who people perceive you to be.”
If marketing is the “how and who” your brand is the “what”. The “what” is going to engage and create loyal customers, and your brand will always remain after various marketing efforts come and go.
The game has changed for people in the marketing industry. Designers have to understand developing, writers have to comprehend marketing strategy, and branding agencies have to know it all. Jared Mirsky who founded Online Marijuana Design in Seattle 8 years ago realized this early on in the legalization game, and has created a business whose purpose it is to grow others’. Employees at OMD come from all backgrounds, some with Fortune 500 pedigree, others with a plucky attitude and a drive to succeed; not unlike the savvy and successful business owners you see in the Cannabis Industry right now.
New and emerging companies within the cannabis industry are the main focus of OMD, and they aim to help them find their creative voice, then use that voice to tell their story. When a new client comes to Online Marijuana Design for their services, they can expect total immersion from the staff through a series of in-depth questions that allow them to grasp the heart and soul of the client’s business, allowing total comprehension of their vision. “We work really hard to understand the client and where they’re coming from, so the work we create will reflect them accurately” Mirsky says. From there they create the logo, design the website, come up with packaging and develop a strategic marketing plan. All of this is done in constant communication with the client to make sure that they’re getting what they expected and what they need.
According to Mirsky, the ideal client is passionate, focused and goal driven; but excellent funding and a background in business doesn’t hurt either. They also look for businesses that offer value to the industry. “We have the unique opportunity to really affect how the cannabis industry is viewed by the public and we can create a positive image for all these businesses” says Mirsky. He’s confident that OMD is the best at what they do, so potential partners that aren’t on board with their branding process won’t necessarily be accepted as a client.
The single biggest mistake burgeoning cannabis industry companies make is underestimating what branding can do for their business, and not realizing that by spending less initially, on things like logo design, that the discount will actually cost them more in the long run. Articulated plainly by Mirsky, he explains that at the end of the day, most designers can create designs that look nice, but what makes great designers better than others, is experience. Especially experience in a particular field. His company weaves together design with concept and strategy, which requires more than just one person. It takes a team of experts in all areas, something which most startups aren’t able to hire for in-house due to a limited budget.
In Mirsky’s experience, he estimates a staggering 75% of the people who come to OMD are there because they previously worked with a company that was less expensive and lower quality, providing lackluster results requiring them to go back to the drawing board. Branding is truly an investment in your business, and one that OMD can prove provides a return. Users of Mirsky’s expertise see quick returns, usually within 6 months to a year, and OMD boasts some of Washington’s top cannabis industry earners as their clients.
Online Marijuana Design will continue to be successful if they stick to their guns like they have been since inception. They created their own process, it works, and they have taken the time and effort to study the industry so new businesses don’t have to. Constant innovation is also crucial to OMD’s success and the success of their clients. According to Mirsky, even established marijuana brands should continue to evaluate their branding strategy, especially if they rushed to get their business off of the ground due of the mercurial nature of the industry.
Ultimately, launching a business in the cannabis industry is a lucrative and attractive prospect for many entrepreneurs, but cutting corners in branding will get you nowhere. Investing your money properly in creative services like Online Marijuana Design are necessary to facilitate a successful startup. Besides using “canna” as a prefix, not at least consulting with a branding strategist is one of the biggest mistakes green and sage business owners can make. If you have any questions for the professionals at OMD, contact them. Maybe you’ll have the opportunity to come by the office for a consultation, just don’t forget to bring a treat for Blazey, the office dog.
Written by Jessy Moore