The Cannabis Business Brand Guide Every Black Cannabis Business Owner Deserves

By BCB Staff Writer | May 17, 2020

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The name of the business becomes the way employees identify and how consumers grow trust and choose favoritism.

When it comes to branding a company, there are certain aspects of the business that come to mind. Marketing and advertising are essential, as are business locale and product offerings, but above and before all of those is the name of the business.

The name of the business becomes the way employees identify and how consumers grow trust and choose favoritism. The cannabis industry is such a niche market that it may seem like every business appears to include keywords like “cannabis,” “ganja,” “stoner,” or “marijuana” in some capacity. It’ll seem shocking, then, that industry professionals urge against using such recognizable wording in brand names.

Any keywords or logos linking the business to the Schedule 1 drug, even in states where cannabis is fully legalized, is a bad idea for a couple of reasons. First, it’s impossible to trademark products or brands related in any way to marijuana. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office prohibits registration of any product listed in the Controlled Substances Act, but state-based roundabouts do exist. Even still, it’s far easier for a budding cannabusiness to succeed within the bounds of copyright law, as it provides more leniency for the legal cannabis industry.

With that said, copyright covers “literary work, musical work, dramatic work, pantomimes and choreographic work, pictorial, graphic, and sculptural work, motion pictures and other audio-visual work, and sound recordings.” This wording allows cannabusinesses to brand company name, logo, tagline, and a host of additional intangibles while technically complying with federal law. Although part of the list, logos are where many cannabis companies get caught.

Brands become synonymous with their logo

Second, brands become synonymous with their logo. Cannabusinesses need to become creative with logo design because media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are cracking down on any signage involving marijuana leaves. Not only will marijuana leaves get online advertisements pulled, but the leaves themselves are too generic. The logical roundabout for this issue is to create a logo that embodies the atmosphere of the business, as opposed to the offerings. As with the business name, the logo needs to work now, as well as 50 years from now.

When it comes to naming the business, it’s important to factor in scalability. Any business names that pay tribute to towns or specific products naturally set limitations for growth. Franchising, moving, or offering a wider variety of products are all less successful when a brand regionalizes. Make the brand name short, memorable, easy to spell, and creatively to the point.

In a 2016 poll from the Marijuana Business License Directory, of 3,318 state-licensed cannabusinesses, “green” and “cannabis” were the most utilized keywords in business names, with an estimated 430 occurrences. Words like “farm” and “garden” were used in production and processing cases, while retail businesses and dispensaries were more likely to use words connotated with positive lifestyles, like “wellness,” “organic,” and “herbal.”

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