Branding is important in any industry, but it's especially important in the newly legal marijuana industry. For decades most cannabis consumers have been buying whatever weed was available, and it usually came in an unmarked plastic baggie. Medical marijuana laws have begun to change some of this with labeled containers, and the legal recreational industry is following suit.
But knowing the strain name and THC content is a lot different from knowing a brand. Some people don’t go to the store to buy bleach, they buy Clorox. They don’t buy tissues, they buy Kleenex. They don’t want some generic smell-good spray, they want Febreze.
And who better to brand marijuana than celebrities? They have instant name recognition, the same way Clorox, Kleenex and Febreze do. In the future there will be recognizable and trusted weed brands separate from the celebrity culture, but for now, we have celebrity cannabis users hitting the market with various products and lines.
Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, Melissa Etheridge, the family of Bob Marley and more are getting in on the ground floor of the marijuana branding revolution. I’m not saying you should buy cannabis or cannabis accessories from these celebrities; after all, very little is known about the brands so far. But if these celebrities want to stay in the business, they will build a trustworthy brand because branding can work either way. Remember the Ford Pinto? What about New Coke?
The legal marijuana industry is going to be a lot like every other legal industry. There will be good brands and bad, small companies and big companies, failures and successes. But if you want to be a good brand that is successful and becomes a big company, you have to protect that brand. Because once you go the branding route, you are stuck with it, for better or worse.