How To Create a $300 Million Cannabis Brand
The cannabis industry is, by all accounts, growing like a… weed, with direct revenue expected to top $15 billion this year in the United States.
Industry outsiders might be surprised, however. Despite the monstrous sales growth, there are still no powerhouse cannabis brands in the United States. Even in Canada, where cannabis is legal nationally, the vast majority of brands have between 1–15% brand awareness among current cannabis users.
That’s shockingly low — but presents a tremendous opportunity. Without any well-established companies owning the minds and wallets of cannabis users, any brand, has the chance to make its mark. Imagine trying to launch a burger chain now and attract customers while competing with McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Shake Shack, Five Guys and the many, many players that already own everyone’s taste buds. I don’t know about you, but when I’m on a road trip, I barely think before heading straight for a stop where I can get McDonald’s fries. It’s not even really a thought process — it’s ingrained.
In contrast, cannabis is still wide open — especially for companies bringing something truly unique. It’s why we were so excited to be introduced to ebbu. ebbu was using their suite of technology to isolate and concentrate specific attributes and feelings from cannabis to deliver consistent, fast-acting doses. Instead of an edible that would take forever, I could drop a tiny bit of ebbu into my soda and within minutes I’d feel it. I tried it once and was sold.
When they approached us, they said they just needed a new website. After further discussion, it was clear that what they really needed was an entirely new branding that captured their disruptive technology. “Our company, and even the industry as a whole, was evolving so fast in those early years that we had pivoted at least a handful of times since our branding and website had been created,” explained Zach Sufrin, ebbu’s Head of Business Development. “We called on Jason and his team wanting to capture what the company had become and our vision of the future, and we asked him to do it within 48 hours so that we’d actually get some mileage out of it before our next pivot.”
So that’s what we did for ebbu: we took their foundation, and created a brand voice, a visual identity, and yes, a new website. We turned a few stacks of PowerPoint slides into a technology brand that Canopy Growth Corporation, the largest player in the field, purchased for $300 million.
So, how’d we do it? Or, more importantly, how can you do the same with your brand?
1. Forget everything you think you know.
You probably had a good reason to start your company, but when was the last time you talked to the people in your target market? Was it in-depth? Were you really listening? Talk to them again and again (and again). If you get this part wrong, nothing else matters.
For ebbu, our target was people who were looking for a consistent, safe cannabis experience similar to grabbing a beer. In that sense, it was fairly straightforward market research: we needed to do little more than look in the mirror.
2. Become the only product.
Your product gives the people what they want? Excellent. No one else can say the same? Perrrfect. So, prove it: write a sentence that explains how you do it. Start simple, something like: By leveraging one-of-a-kind technology, ebbu is the only brand that can give cannabis users the exact experience they are looking for, every time.
3. Talk the talk.
Establish a tone of voice that is consistent with your product positioning. A low-priced hatchback wouldn’t have the tagline “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” But an expertly designed German luxury car? For sure.
Ebbu had a simple, informative, science-backed tone. Imagine a very relaxed, straight-talking person — Paul Rudd crossed with someone who knows science.
4. Design is worth a thousand words.
When it comes to brands, especially newer ones, design is crucial to help you pop off the shelf and into someone’s shopping cart.
People needed to know that ebbu was grounded in science, but not in a boring, high school biology kind of way. So, we combined a helix pattern with a modern, vibrant color palette and warm photo library.
That’s it, four steps and you’re on your way. Opportunity is everywhere. And it’s yours for the taking.
If you have any questions about branding, advertising or the best fast food fries, please don’t hesitate to reach out.