BRAND IDENTITY AND WHY YOU NEED ONE
Branding can be an intimidating concept for a business to fully grasp, especially canna companies in 2020. Many businesses choose to skip the branding process all together, instead relying on word-of-mouth and referrals to attract new business. Taking it one step further, many participants in the industry feel that branding isn’t important to their business while most don’t know how to properly establish a brand identity.
The assumption of not needing to be consciously branding couldn’t be further from the truth. The marketplace is extremely crowded with tens of thousands of businesses competing with comparable products and/or services. The competitive nature of the industry makes the need for differentiation even more important. Creating a consistent, memorable and recognizable brand will help your business stand out, attract more business, and ultimately build a strong loyalty for your brand.
To help you tackle this large task, I’ve created this comprehensive guide on the many aspects that go into successfully branding your canna business.
Sit back, get comfortable, and let’s dive right in.
THE BRAND DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
A compelling brand is essential to differentiating your company from competition. A thoughtful brand development process helps to define and optimize the positioning of your brand. Beyond a logo and slogan, your brand encompasses both tangibles and intangibles—how your brand is spoken about, what representatives or partners say, customers’ emotional connection—to form a cohesive brand.
A brand development process will help you:
- Establish a strong brand identity. It will help you figure out “who” you are to ensure your brand is consistent and engaging—so there is no “disconnect” between your brand promise and what your customers or clients experience.
- Create a powerful and distinctive brand. Express your brand through dynamic visual expression (logo, graphics, website) and brand narrative (positioning statements, messaging, content creation).
- Develop brand loyalty. Leverage your brand to attract customers, build loyal brand advocates, and blow your sales through the roof.
Successful branding delivers a consistent and realistic experience, and engages consumers who can be your best brand advocates. Branding starts with customer perceptions. Research, the first step in a thoughtful brand development process, attracts valuable information to build a powerful brand foundation.
HOW TO ESTABLISH A STRONG BRAND IDENTITY
Brand identity consists of what your brand says, what your values are, and how to communicate your brand’s concepts to your consumer base. As Jeff Bezos says, “Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Brand identity is the personality of your business and the promise to your customers which helps to establish emotional connections. For businesses, product-centric marketing has been the go-to strategy for years, but now in the instant gratification digital age, you have about 10 seconds to make an impression on your audience. Can you clearly communicate the positives of your product in this short amount of time? What will keep your audience interested long enough to convert is the impression you leave on them and their overall perception of your brand. Reliability and brand recognition are generally what attracts people first. A strong brand presence and identity is the key to gaining momentum and keeping them engaged with your business through emotional connections.
Below are just a few steps toward creating strong brand identity for your canna-focused business…
- Who? Define your brand.
- Figure out who you are, what you value, and the causes you stand for. A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis is a great place to start. This will allow you to assess the key areas of your business that you want to shape your brand around.
- Be consistent.
- The more consistent your brand is, the more recognizable your brand becomes. Consistency helps to establish trust among your customer base, which down the road, will help create brand loyalty.
- Stand for something.
- Even if you are a B2B structured business, you still need to appeal to the individual. Make sure you set out clear values for your brand. If you have a buyer persona in place, research what they care about and create communication portals that resonate.
- It’s no secret that canna businesses face a ton of competition in terms of products and/or services. Find something that your business does that your competitors can’t. Once you recognize this task, you can develop a unique brand position around it…which will lead to marketing opportunities in the near future.
Benefits of a strong brand identity:
- Improves “brand recognition” by giving a personality to your business
- Strong brand identity builds trust and credibility
- Creates impressions and reach through marketing and advertising
- Solidifies future business, which creates value financially
- Defines the mission of your business
- Generates new customers, and delights existing ones
- Builds loyalty with consumers by establishing a bond with shared vision
THE ELEMENTS OF A POWERFUL CANNA BRAND
Branding is important for every business in every industry to date. While many companies don’t worry about their brand strategy, it is extremely important to recognize how important it is to have a solid and noticeable brand. A strong brand will distinguish your company, products, and/or services from competitors and help your business stand out while providing clear messaging to anyone your business deals with—or hope to attract as customers. Ultimately, a strong brand will improve your efficiency in attracting your target audience.
Key elements to maintaining a powerful and valuable brand:
- Understanding your ecosystem.
- To establish a strong brand, you must have extensive knowledge of the environment you operate within. Perform a SWOT analysis and develop a continued knowledge of your competitors and their offerings. Additionally, establish a buyer persona to understand what makes your customers tick. A greater understanding of your target audience and competitors will allow you to create a unique brand within the marketplace and serve the consumers’ wants and needs.
- A Thorough strategy.
- A brand strategy is a plan that includes specific, long-term goals that can be achieved with the evolution of a successful brand—the combined components of your business’ personality that make it identifiable. We suggest creating a well-defined and executed brand strategy that affects all aspects of a business and is directly connected to the needs of consumers, emotions, and the competitive environments throughout.
- Strong visual presence.
- A strong visual presence is necessary to your brand. If you want to stand out, amplify your visual identity. Carefully choose a logo, font, and color scheme that cohesively aligns with your business’s values and overall personality. Keep the color scheme and font consistent across your website, graphics, and any other literature.
- A clear story.
- A strategic narrative should tell a clear story. It should say who you are, where you’ve been, where you’re going, and what you value in connections. It explains your existence and what makes your brand unique. Most importantly, your “why” should answer the customer’s most desired question, “Why do I want to buy from you?” This story is told through your messaging, content, and positioning. Your brand positioning should explain the “who,” the “how” and the “why.” NOT the “what.” Your content should maintain relevance to your positioning and be promoted through channels your target audience currently participate in. “How to Build a Strategic Narrative,” a Harvard Business Review article, suggests looking for methods “to shift your brand roles from one-directional, asymmetrical, and transactional to reciprocal, symmetrical, and personal.” By involving the customer in your story and your brand, it becomes more meaningful to them while helping assure them that they will always be treated correctly.
When you work with these four elements while establishing and growing your brand, your canna business will be better aligned to attract and deliver the very best potential customers, and ultimately scale your bottom line.
DEVELOPING BRAND LOYALTY
Developing your canna brand is an important part of attracting customers to your business. The stronger the feeling of connection between your brand and the consumer, the more likely they are to buy from you over, and over…and over again. Creating a loyal following of customers will ensure continued success and contribute greatly to increasing your bottom line. The Pareto Principle states that “80% of your brand’s future revenue will come from 20% of your current customer base,” making it extremely important that you create a loyal following that consistently engages and establishes repeat purchasing behavior within your business.
Here are some crucial tips for creating brand loyalty for your canna business:
- Never let your customer down.
- You NEED to be consistently delivering high-quality products and/or services to you customers. Stay on top of current trends and NEVER stop revising your systems and processes. Your customers will stick with you if they see your business as a dependable resource.
- Provide authentic customer service.
- Stand by what you say and mean it. Follow through on any promises you make to customers and don’t guarantee them something that you can’t deliver on. Address any issues respectfully; customers need to know that problems will be addressed immediately and that you care for them on an individual basis. Keyword here is “individual”.
- Listen to your customers.
- Regardless of the positive or negative feedback they give, it’s useful information for your business. Negative feedback can highlight areas your business can improve on and better meet the needs of customers moving forward. Positive feedback can be great reinforcement that your current efforts are in order and can also serve as a promotional piece for your brand. *wink wink*
- Interact with your customers, NOT competitors
- The only way to nurture a meaningful relationship is to have communication with your customers and audience. Keep your customers engaged and ALWAYS follow up with them after a sale. If they mention your brand on social media, make sure your company is monitoring and responding to those mentions. This will allow your customers to feel heard and ultimately shows them that your brand cares. Customers feel much more connected to brands that open up the communication with them, and the customers who take the time to engage with your company will end up being your biggest advocates if you keep up your end of the bargain…I mean dialogue.
And we are done! I know we went over a ton of information in this post but we hope this steers you and your brand in the right direction to creating your brand identity.