For business owners and customers alike, branding is like dating: Sometimes we think with the wrong part of our anatomy. To make a brand last, as with relationships, we must think about the big picture.
Every time a customer purchases a product, a relationship is formed with that brand. Some of these relationships are based on convenience and thus are brief, and some of the relationships last the remainder of our lives. When you build a strong brand and deliver an equally powerful product, you can win your customer’s loyalty for life.
What do you look for when you are selecting a potential romantic interest? For many of us, the first things we notice are purely aesthetic. We judge based on appearance. While appearance may be important, it will never be enough to form a strong foundation or maintain a healthy relationship.
Many of us have entered relationships, possibly many relationships, based on surface-level values. Hopefully, we learned a lot. You may have learned we require far more than just looks. We need to align our future goals, we need to represent ourselves the same way, and we need to know we can grow together with similar interests.
A well-built brand should be no different. It should, of course, be attractive on the outside, but a great brand needs many additional layers to court and win the attention of potential customers. The pursuit requires making yourself memorable and, most importantly, winning a level of trust and connection competitors can’t readily replicate.
You probably wouldn’t marry a Tinder date after one week. Similarly, you shouldn’t rush into a quick logo or name choice. A logo and name are the most memorable parts of any brand, and you want to make sure yours grow with you and your customers.
A logo and name will be the first exposure a potential customer has to your brand. Everything you put forth should be unmistakably you. You don’t want your name and logo to get lost in the mix, so it should speak to who you are, what you do, and provide a glimpse into your first style. Are you sleek and sexy? Are you a trusted household name that has existed for millennia? Or perhaps you care about a particular issue around which you have built your entire livelihood.
“Trends can and will change. It is important to allow your marketing and branding to change with them.”
A good name and logo help set the foundation for a strong, cohesive brand identity, and a well-thought-out and clearly presented brand identity is a must for any company intent on differentiating itself. So, how do you build a compelling brand identity?
When looking for a romantic partner, their wardrobe can tell you a lot about them. Are they party-focused or serious? Do they introduce a wide range of colors and exude a vibrant personality, or do they present themselves as stark and monochromatic? The latest New York streetwear denim jacket and a tuxedo both serve the same basic function of warmth and covering the body, but they give entirely different impressions to your date. Are you trendy and new, or are you a luxurious, time-tested staple?
Your target customers will have specific preferences and tastes, just like a date. Don’t make the mistake of appealing to everyone. Be authentic in showcasing your brand and who you truly are.
Just remember: A strong name and logo are a must. While they alone can’t encompass everything your full brand identity can, they should be the focal point of customer memories and provide a cohesive entry point to the entirety of the brand you represent.
So, you got their attention… Now what?
The honeymoon phase is important for brands and dating. In many relationships, the beginning is where we show our best side, and we try to win over the exclusive love of our significant other. Thoughtful gestures and gifts go a long way for individuals, and incentives go a long way for a brand.
Does your product offer something inherently different, such as strain specification or faster activation time? If so, you will want to put that front and center. Perhaps you are the safest product or independently tested by third-party labs, which can be great additional selling points.
Many brands, however, will be fairly similar to competitors with only slight differentiators. If this is the case, look toward traditional incentives. Promotional giveaway items during budtender visits or an extra joint in your pre-roll packs can be great early-stage offerings to encourage consumers to value your brand.
Every brand ultimately will be unique as to incentives and offerings, but they are always a must. Perhaps you choose a romantic partner based on their shared interest in comic books or their incredible cooking talents or even their future parenting ability. Consumers will choose a brand based on what they receive not only in perception but also tangible benefits. Make sure you define and deliver on your value to encourage the best customer experience.
In dating, few things are worse than people who change their personality depending on who they are around. If you have ever had a significant other who is entirely different when they are alone with you as opposed to when they are around their friends, you are familiar with how jarring that experience is. Inconsistent branding can have the same effect on consumers.
The way a brand is presented at a conference should be the same way it is presented sitting on a customer’s coffee table. A brand should be unmistakably the same across all channels. Your website, your Instagram, and your giveaways all should have the same look and feel and remind customers who you are and what you care about.
From a brand’s perspective, this is best accomplished through things like tone of voice and graphic mood boards. Every item your brand creates should be compared against a central tone of voice and mood board to make sure it matches your style. Just like a romantic interest, you want to make sure customers know who they are dealing with and what to expect. Brands who don’t have a clear and consistent message seemingly lack authenticity. Anytime you present your brand to the world, be sure to remind everyone you are the same great brand they fell in love with in the first place.
Reminding them we care
A good relationship should be full of constant small reminders. While dating someone, we might do this with sweet text messages or a spontaneous delivery of flowers. A good brand should do the same with marketing. Just because you won your customer initially doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of brands out there trying to take them away.
For a brand, this most easily can be accomplished through email and social media marketing. Customers should feel they are getting relevant and useful information and that they are being included in a unique group by partaking in your brand. Don’t hesitate to teach users about new consumption techniques or educate users about the latest CBD research, or do something as simple as reminding them of the unique feelings and experiences they can have while under the influence of your product.
You worked hard to win over your customer. Remember to remind them often that you care about them. While this step seems simple, it is the most frequently overlooked. We seem to worry so much about bringing on new customers we often fail to provide the necessary attention to our existing ones.
An evolving style
We often hear the death of a relationship occurs when one of the members refuses to change. Growth is good in relationships and brands, and failure to adapt or change can lead to a company’s demise. Just ask Blockbuster.
Trends can and will change. It is important to allow your marketing and branding to change with them. Sometimes this requires a full rebrand. Often, though, small and subtle changes will do the trick. You don’t need to buy a brand-new house just because the bathroom needs updating.
Much like the denim jacket and tuxedo, your style does not always have to be modern, but your approach should always feel fresh. Connect with your customers in ways they currently engage and bring your own identity and style to the table. If it feels outdated, give it a light refresh through new colors, taglines, and certainly through new products. As cannabis is legalized and normalized, consumers are interested in trying new products. Give them a brand they know and trust, and give them products and experiences that keep them coming back.
Jared Mirsky and his award-winning cannabis-focused branding and marketing agency, Wick & Mortar, have helped shape the cannabis industry since 2009. Rebranding cannabis is his mission, and he aims to accomplish the goal by helping to educate the industry about the power of successful branding and the impact it has on the world.