Originally Published on Lift
The cannabis industry has quickly become a highly competitive market with hundreds of companies fighting to take aslice out of the cannabis pie. As markets become more competitive, companies can no longer rely solely on having the best product or service. The difference between your company’s life or death is a distinct and differentiated brand that your customer can identify with. The cannabis industry is no different.
The days of first to market are coming to an end and the era of brand wars is beginning. Let’s look at a few of the verticals within the cannabis industry for examples of companies that leveraged brand as a competitive advantage:
- Edibles: There are many edible companies, mostly local brands that distribute through local dispensaries. Very few edible brands have taken a national approach, but Kiva is one of them. Kiva does infused chocolates and took a very mainstream approach to branding from their website to their packaging. You get the sense that they are preparing for mass distribution through the Whole Foods of the world.
- Media: HERB, formerly Stoner’s Cookbook, recently completed their rebrand, shifting from a curation of cannabis recipes to a BuzzFeed style cannabis content source. Herb is a leader in its category, where competition for viewers is intense, and the new brand has played a key role in their growth.
- Delivery: There are a number of cannabis delivery services focused on streamlining the order and fulfillment process, attempting to provide a cannabis purchasing experience similar to pizza delivery. Eaze is an example of a brand that’s built around their core value of ease and convenience.
We recently decided to change our name from CannSoft to Trellis at my cannabis company and the most frequent question I’ve been asked since is why. What was wrong with CannSoft? The truth is for a B2B company like ours, there really wasn’t anything wrong with CannSoft. It got the job done as a placeholder reference, so we could focus on building our product and defining our internal culture. Once we truly found our “product-market-fit”, we were able to identify a name that better fit the brand we are building. It wasn’t an easy decision, but below are a few of the factors that went into the decision:
- Differentiation: The cannabis industry, ironically, has not been the most creative when it comes to names. There is a laundry list of “Canna” something companies that it becomes difficult to stand out or leave an impression. I thought going with CannSoft without the “a” would have addressed the problem, but people still called it CannaSoft. The struggle was real.
- Personality: Predecessors, in the seed-to-sale vertical in particular, have done a tremendous job in setting poor precedent for software and an even better job of evoking the absolute worst feelings towards anyone in the seed-to-sale space. We’ve solved the problem by creating a product that automates the workflow from cultivation to sale. Similar to a trellis supporting plants, we support our clients with a foundation that helps them grow stronger.
- Industry Agnostic: Our long term vision for Trellis is the core of the healthcare ecosystem. We want to facilitate the relationship between patients and service providers, whether that’s your doctor, pharmacist, or in the case of cannabis grower and dispensary. As we grow, we needed a brand that was versatile enough to expand into new verticals and industries.
- Stigma: Cannabis has come a long way in the past few years. We have seen the industry develop overnight. Even mainstream companies likeMicrosoft have begun to legitimize the industry. That being said, being associated with cannabis can be a hurdle for essential pieces of your business like opening a bank account or raising institutional capital. We have it a little easier as an ancillary company that doesn’t directly touch the plant, but as a company battling in a competitive cannabis market we wanted to remove as many hurdles as possible to maximize our chance of success.
If initial feedback is any indication of what’s to come, we are well positioned to be the leading brand in the seed-to-sale vertical.