(Dr. Norm’s is one of the companies featured in The Power of a Brand: Lessons From 20 Top Cannabis Companies, in the June issue of mg Magazine.)
Jeff and Roberta Koz founded their company on principles they learned from their parents: a caring bedside manner, a contagious sense of humor, and treatment designed with patients, not for them. Dr. Norm’s is named for their father, an honest-to-goodness old-style physician who made house calls and treated patients as though they were family. Their mother was a pharmacist who also baked wicked-good cookies. Both passed away before the company came to be, but the offspring think the parents would be proud.
The siblings, both of whom enjoyed careers as branding and marketing professionals prior to founding the company, embarked on a mission to create a brand that telegraphs a nostalgic, apothecary impression. Ultimately, they intended to establish the kind of rapport patients enjoyed with their family doctors in the 1950s and ’60s, when compassion, comfort, and trust were the norm.
The effort may have been deliberate, but nothing about the brand’s expression is contrived. That’s important, Jeff Koz said, because a brand is nothing if consumers perceive a lack of authenticity.
“We didn’t create a character named ‘Dr. Norm,’” he said. “He was our dad. That’s his med school photo on the package. The cookie recipe really is Mom’s. Our brand communicates all of that.
“Ideally, every cannabis brand should communicate to consumers what to expect when they use the products,” he continued. “And when consumers experience what the brand communicates, that’s the home run.”
Koz said he and his sister—and a brother who’s a silent partner—take a great deal of pride in the way Dr. Norm’s authenticity resonates with a broad age demographic ranging from 21 to golden-agers in their eighties. The siblings, all in their fifties “and proud of it” according to Koz, have made a priority of maintaining the small-town-doctor, family-owned-company vibe even as the company grows.
Growth may take a sudden leap, in fact, thanks to the branding the Koz family accomplished. Four companies have approached the siblings about partnerships. “The brand and products are what attracted them,” said Jeff Koz. All four suitors offered investment with one caveat, he added: “Please don’t change what you’re doing.”