Staying relevant requires constant work at the brand level. Sometimes it’s evolutionary. Sometimes revolutionary.

A brand journey is never straight or direct. As competitors come and go, consumer trends change, and categories evolve, a clear brand strategy is your compass that ensures your brand stays relevant and turns commercial goals into human connections. For cannabis specifically, new scientific discoveries can totally reframe the way consumers understand the effects of different products or strains. Changes in regulations might destroy the dimensions of a product category. Or the bar just might have risen and your brand is stuck looking like a cover of a 90’s rap album. Factors like these would hint to needing to rebrand.

Consumer targeting and segmentation are at the heart of good brand building & provide a focus for all marketing activities.

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A key challenge across the cannabis industry right now is consumer insights and segmentation. The data is still being collected and the groups are broad and diverse. The latest identified opportunities — 55+ and females — are huge and far more nuanced than they are currently defined. As a brand owner, understanding your target consumer makes up one of the three* key areas that brand owners should keep a steady eye on; in no particular order:

  • Maintaining a thorough understanding of the competition’s products, capabilities, and brand messaging. …

What is your brand actually communicating?

The steady evolution of the cannabis category makes design a key challenge for brands. Sub-categories are optimizing their core strengths, new pockets are being carved out that change the shape of the market, and existing brands are refining their stories, products, and messaging. Where established categories have design codes that help guide consumers around the shelves, each of the above dynamics creates challenges in communicating benefits and differences to consumers, helping them make sense of the space.

For many brands, design’s silent impact is the difference between success and failure. The challenge, however, is knowing exactly how to leverage design…

Yes, flower is a commodity. So are tobacco, cocoa, coffee, vodka, and water. A well-managed brand can absolutely differentiate.

BDS is a fine data and research resource. Their latest report, however, had some pretty crappy brand advice. Their commercial insights on getting into the cannabis space are fine, but obvious — basically do your research before launching a business, folks. Their brand and design conclusions were downright misleading, though. Our biggest point of contention; you can absolutely build a brand around flower.

A lot happens between planting a seed and a consumer purchasing the final product — even if it’s just flower. All the input variables and processes are opportunities to ladder functional benefits into strong & emotional brand…

Category Opinion: Beer

The dynamics of the beer space are changing. What can we learn from the design shifts by the big brewers?

Peak craft beer has been called for several years now. Depending on your metric — number of openings, number of closings, open/close ratios, craft beer consumption, M & A activity— there is no doubt that the space is saturated, growth has slowed down, and craft brewers are looking for ways to manage uncertainty and find growth outside of taprooms.

Having spoken with a couple of local brewers, there is a consistent tone and a change of attitude towards chasing experimental, trend-driven styles. This approach to managing brew cycles had its original benefits of improving recipes and crafting new ones while…

Jim Worlund

I’m the director of brand strategy at

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