Stop Being Forgettable: Trading Green for Purple

by Jordan Bentle, Chiefton Supply Co.

Drive down Denver’s “Green Mile,” and the number of green crosses and marijuana leaf logos that pass by will blur into an amalgam of forgettable brands. According to data from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, 44 percent of cannabis brands nationwide use a marijuana leaf for their logo. Let me say that again…44 percent! What that means is many companies are headed toward tough times because they didn’t differentiate their brand or make it memorable.

Why sound the alarm? The Cannabis industry in Colorado is beginning to consolidate. Not only that, but regulation at state and federal levels, high taxes and overhead, as well as a lack of banking options are making it much harder for smaller dispensary owners to stay above water.

Combine those difficult hurdles with a forgettable brand, and you have a recipe for having your business bought out from you. You’ll be left with a pile of cash, and a story on how you used to be a part of the Cannabis revolution.

So how will fledgling dispensaries and other cannabis businesses fight to stay a part of the fastest growing industry in the United States, and continue their story? By becoming a Purple Cow.

In Seth Godin’s book, Purple Cow, he talks about how if you were driving down the road and you saw pasture after pasture of black and white cows, after awhile, you wouldn’t notice them anymore. Why? They became ordinary. The same. Just another cow.

Now if after all those black and white cows you saw a purple cow, well that would be downright remarkable. You would text everyone you know. Post the picture of that violet beast to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or whichever social media platform you prefer. Why? It’s extraordinary. It’s memorable.

Many Cannabis business owners started their business because they saw an opportunity. They had a vision of being successful in the cannabis industry. So they set up their new business, and like most entrepreneurs (regardless of industry) got the most affordable (read: quick and cheap) branding and logo design they could muster at the time. With an industry as expensive as ours, I don’t blame them, but that initial branding strategy should have included the “2.0” branding upgrade that really would differentiate them.
How can dispensary owners and other cannabis business owners make themselves memorable? For many, a rebrand is needed. With so many brands utilizing the marijuana leaf, you are bound to run into confusion from consumers from consumers looking to differentiate between the basic categories of cannabis consumable products.

There are five things a cannabis brand should consider when looking at a rebrand:

  1. What is your message?
    What is the main mission and vision for the business? Ask trusted colleagues, friends, and fans how they view the company. How does the company appear to the public?
  2. Where does your brand live?
    How many places do you have your logo printed? Of course you’ll have it on your business card, but things like strain stickers, product packaging, tradeshow booths, pop-up banners, email campaigns, and social media will feature your logo and brand as well. These must be taken into account when looking at where you want your customers to see you.
  3. Do you have a plan?
    Are you planning on changing the name of the business? Are you only changing the logo? When working with designers and agencies, having a plan on what your vision is critical. Focus on what your goals are for the brand.
  4. Are you willing to put up the capital necessary?
    It takes money to make money. Every successful entrepreneur I have worked with understands the value of investing in marketing. It’s an investment, pure and simple. The brands that take the time and money to make sure their brand message, logo, word-marks, and images are dialed in are always the most successful. Don’t have the scratch to invest? Offer services in exchange. Get creative. Your business is worth it.
  5. What is your digital strategy?
    If you are changing your business name entirely, purchase a new domain name, update your social media handles, and make sure your emails are functioning correctly and people can find your business.

Companies within the Cannabis industry have run into problems with their accounts being shut down by Instagram and Facebook. Research what things you will be able to post without drawing the ire of the powers that be. Set up a profile on MassRoots if you don’t have one already. Having a platform you can post freely about Cannabis without looking over your shoulder is a nice addition to the other larger platforms.

Many Cannabis brands out there right now are just white noise, and need to account for where the legalization movement is going. Baby Boomers are beginning to take a much closer look at Cannabis and what it can do for their Chronic pain, arthritis, and insomnia. Many Baby Boomers don’t identify with the aggressive, counter-culture side of Cannabis, and will avoid the dispensaries that they don’t receive a good “vibe” from purely from a visual standpoint.

As more and more people that have avoided Cannabis begin to explore the plant, I believe that the brands you will see dominating the Cannabis space wont make the leaf the main focus, but an afterthought. The companies that do something outside of the norm, and present themselves as remarkable are the Purple Cows everyone will be taking pictures of and sharing for years to come.

Jordan Bentle is the Digital Marketing Chief for Chiefton Supply Co., and the Social Media Manager for General Cannabis Corporation in Denver, Colorado.

Chiefton Supply Co. creates Cannabis inspired art apparel, as well as provides design, and branding services to Cannabis businesses. For more information and set up a consultation contact