Without a doubt, branding is one of the most valuable parts of any business; cannabis or otherwise. Your brand represents not only how you see your company, but how others do as well. Your customers, your competition, and everyone in between knows and understands your company through the lens of your brand.
You may have the best company in the world, with the world’s best product and the world’s best employees; but if you don’t take some time to put effort into your brand, no one will know or care. Nevertheless, countless companies within the cannabis space think that branding is a wasted expense with very little to offer; which couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Aside from the intangible perception-based results, branding offers businesses measurable, real-world results. Here are just a few:
- Branding makes it easier to attract your ideal customer
Everyone that has been in business for more than five minutes knows about customer profiles. Customer profiles help businesses define the attributes of what they consider to be the perfect client or customer, which in turn makes it easier for them to sell their products and services. By taking the time to perfect your branding, you make it easier for that ideal customer to find you. Effective branding communicates your company’s ideals and values, which will attract those that identify with those ideals and values. Customers that identify with your branding will not only be more willing to spend their money on your products and services, they will also be more likely to stay loyal to your brand; and loyal customers are repeat customers.
- You can make more money off of a good brand
Go to your local grocery store and take a trip down the soda aisle. In addition to all of the national soda brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, you’ll most likely find the “generic” sodas brands like Sam’s Club or Check. Now take a look at the pricing difference between a bottle of Coke and a bottle of generic cola. What do you see? Despite being two very similar products, a two-liter bottle of Coke will sell for around $2 while the generic soda sells for about $0.99. Do you know why? The answer isn’t in its production quality or ingredients; the answer is in its branding. People have been drinking Coca-Cola for more than a century, and as a consequence have some very distinct memories and feelings associated with the brand. Standing in contract, Generic-O-Soda has none of those memories. If there is any branding on the soda at all, it is most likely meant to emulate the soda it’s supposed to copy. With a distinct brand and loyal customers, you will be able to charge more for the same product or service. Be the Coca-Cola of cannabis, don’t be the Generic-O-Soda.
- Good branding can reduce marketing costs
One of the most significant advantages of having a defined and robust brand is that you don’t have to spend as much money advertising. As alluded to earlier, good branding not only makes it easier for your ideal customers to find you, it also makes it easier for you to find your perfect customer. Take Monster Energy Drinks for example. Based on their branding, Monster knows that their ideal target is going to be people under the age of 30 that enjoy extreme sports. That’s why you see Monster advertise during events like the X-Games and not the PGA Championship. It wouldn’t make much sense otherwise would it? Likewise, by having a clearly defined brand, you can save money by marketing only to those people that want to buy your product or services. Having a good brand can keep you from throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.
- Effective branding generates more sales more easily
Great branding does more than just connect you to the right people; it also helps sell your product or service before you even come into contact with a customer. When you walk into an Apple Store, you already have a list of expectations tied to the Apple brand. Although there are sales associates, no one really needs to sell you anything. You know what kind of experience you’re going to have with an Apple product; that’s why you’re there! Apple is not the most valuable company in the world because they make the best computers in the world; far from it in fact. You can buy or build a better computer at a much lower price than what Apple sells. The reason why people are willing to pay for Apple products all boils down to branding. People don’t buy Apple products, they buy the Apple experience; and if you can effectively brand your cannabis company, people will be willing to do the same for you.
- Branding can increase your company’s value
In addition to what has been discussed today, branding can have a positive effect on your company’s stock value. Going back to our soda example, let’s talk about the difference between Coke and Pepsi. Pepsi has outsold Coke over the last several years and even has a higher price per share ($114 per share vs. $46 per share). Nevertheless, Coca-Cola is worth approximately $188 billion, whereas Pepsi is valued at around $155 billion. Why do you think that is? The reason, as you may have already guessed, is branding. Coca-Cola is more valuable than Pepsi because people believe that it is more valuable. Effective branding can help lend your company prestige, which in turn helps raise your company’s value.
So how do you evaluate how successful your brand is? For those outside of the cannabis industry, there are plenty of tools available to help track the effectiveness of their brands and marketing campaigns. Sadly, many of these tools are not available to the cannabis industry because of strict advertising requirements in areas where cannabis is legal and because advertising platforms like Google Ads or Facebook Ads prohibit any kind of cannabis-related advertising.
However, that does not mean you cannot measure the effectiveness of your cannabis brand at all. It simply means that you will have to create your own measurement for what success means and follow it. Here are a few tips the Digital Marketing team at Wick & Mortar put together to help clients accomplish just that:
Decide on your metrics
You can’t measure success without first figuring out what kind of metrics you’re going to be using. There are a host of different parameters that you can use to figure out the success of your cannabis brand and marketing efforts, although not all of them are created equally. In a general sense, likes and followers on social media are good things to have, but they are by no means a measure of success. You may have a million followers on Instagram, but if no one is buying anything from you what’s the point? Focus on metrics like web traffic, bounce rates, cost-per-sale, and customer retention. Figure out what it is you want to improve, what is critical to your success, and keep it grounded in reality.
Figure out your baseline
If you don’t know where you’re coming from, then you will never know where you’re going. Likewise, you will never know how to improve your cannabis brand if you can’t first figure out how well you’re doing. Do you want to increase sales? Then figure out how much you’re selling now and what it is you’re doing to accomplish those numbers. Once you know where you stand, then you can figure out where to go from there.
Measure your results
Once you know what your metrics are and where you stand within those metrics, the next step is to measure the results of your strategy. Have your sales improved? What about that bounce rate? Keep strict records on every single action and result from your marketing efforts. You can have the most excellent strategy in the world, but if you don’t measure the results, you’ll never know how well it performed.
Analyze the results
Branding is a never-ending process. Sometimes, what works today will not work tomorrow. Consequently, always continue to measure the results of your branding efforts. If you see your sales start to slump, find out why and fix the issue. Are sales up? Figure what’s the cause and keep doing it. It is not enough to just notice the results; you have to analyze every action and metric and figure out the reason.
Good branding is essential, regardless of your business. By adopting a robust branding strategy, you can help find your perfect audience, reduce your marketing costs, and in general make more money. As long as you can define success, measure your actions, and analyze the results; there is no limit to what your cannabis brand can achieve.