2. BE AUTHENTIC: The 10 Steps of Cannabis Branding with Zack Darling

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The following is a transcription from the stage at Green Flower Summit 2018 (paywall) where Zack Darling (CEO of The Hybrid Creative) explains his 10 steps of cannabis branding in today’s competitive market.

2. BE AUTHENTIC

Next, be authentic. Cannabis, like many other industries, is a consumer-driven economy. Let's take an example of a person who's a first time user. They ask around their friends and family about what's going to be a good place to start with cannabis. They get a bunch of recommendations, they go in to the dispensary, and are flooded with all sorts of different brands and packaging and marketing and messaging. They're trying to make a decision so they go to their budtender, who knows what they're talking about, informs them and that person tries that new product. They try it and maybe it works, maybe it doesn't, but the next time they're more informed and they've learned more. And they go back and they go back to fine-tune and curate their own cannabis experience. These consumers are defining what they want and, when you are anything less than 100 percent authentic, they will find out.

Take for example the Emerald Cup. It's a Cup here in Northern California for organic outdoor flower. Well, one year they didn't have enough time to get all the test results done. They handed out a number of awards then did the testing afterwards. There were a bunch of brands that won awards, but they found that they had pesticides in them. The kind of fallout in brand equity that they had after that by even being entered into an organic event like this and then finding out that they had pesticides was detrimental. And I'm sure they lost a lot of audience loyalty. If you were to make one thing your cornerstone of building your brand it's authenticity. And I would recommend never compromising on that.

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