Branding can be tough to define. It’s the sum of everything that helps you stand out in a crowded market. It creates a personality and helps your buyers connect on a more personal level with your company.
Branding is tough for any B2C business, but is even more challenging in the fast-growing cannabis industry. Newly legal in Canada and a few states in the US, this new space is facing a unique branding challenge.
This is exactly why Dino H. Carter is focusing on the cannabis industry. He is the owner and chief strategist at D Branding, which helps brands discover their unique identities. With more than 20 years in digital marketing, he’s worked with brands like Levi’s, MTV Europe, Alfa Romeo, and National Geographic. Now, Dino is turning his keen branding eye to the world of cannabis branding.
One of his clients, Spectrum King LED, sells LED lights specifically for at-home and commercial growers. But the challenge is in educating the market, staying competitive, and building a brand that is trusted by the notoriously tough cannabis market.
In this exclusive interview with The Empowered Marketer, Dino shares:
- How great brands can build trust with their audience
- The importance of educating and helping your buyers
- How word-of-mouth can power your marketing success
- ….and much more.
Listen to Episode 22: The Empowered Marketer
Read the Interview
1. Tell me a little about your client, Spectrum King. How are you helping them with their branding? And who is their target audience for their products?
I’ve been with Spectrum King for more than two years doing marketing and art direction. It’s a great company with amazing products. Spectrum King are pioneers of full spectrum LED grow lights. Which is a very new concept. The full spectrum LEDs are more efficient electricity bills-wise and they produce much less heat so you don’t need AC. When you have a huge grow, the electric bills are crazy. This really saves tons of money while produces really great yields.
We sell to growers. There are home growers — hobbyists — who grow something small in a tent or just two or three plants for themselves. Then there are the big growers, the commercial growers that have huge facilities and need tons of lights. We work with both of them.
Something really interesting about this industry is in a way, this is still an outlaw industry. A lot of those growers have been under the radar for the last 20 years. They don’t want to be found. In any other industry, they want to be found. That’s why trust and community is really a huge part of this business.
2. Now that it’s legal in many states in the US and in Canada, how do you balance that need to market products with the secretive nature of the industry? How do you build that trust?
The trust and the sense of community is something that I really, really push. That correlates with the brand’s story because Spectrum King LED started when the founder grew in his garage and wanted to find a way to grow more efficiently. It’s in the core of the brand. We’re growers for growers. We’re not just a company that decided to jump into the cannabis industry.
Knowledge is also very important in the industry and we will answer anyone. If you’ll call us, if you ask us a question on Facebook or Instagram, if you email us — no matter what, we will help you with your question. Even if they don’t use our lights, we will help them because we know how to grow and we know how to produce good yields. We show them videos constantly.
We have an R&D room where we actually test our lights on plants for a full cycle, and we tweak and we change and we have a lot of growers that we work with. This sense of community and sharing of knowledge is something that we really push forward. A lot of other companies in a lot of industries don’t give enough attention to reply to people. They send you a question in email, and you don’t reply. They send you a question on Facebook chat, and you don’t reply. Huge mistake.
3. Your products are also fairly expensive. How does that impact how you’re marketing to your audience? Obviously, it’s different if you’re doing a B2B type sale versus a B2C, but how do you make that shift?
We are not the most expensive, but we have a very high-quality product and it costs money to produce. Most of the inexpensive products break, because you get what you paid for. And because we have such a great community online, it really helps. If someone said something wrong about Spectrum King on Instagram like, “I bought a $59 light and it works great,” we don’t need to say anything. Our community will tell him, “Well, wait another few months and you’ll see it breaks.” They support us and we support them. When you go on social media, when you look for social proof, you find it. You find tons of growers that just use Spectrum King, nothing else.
4. The cannabis industry as a whole is facing a really tough branding challenge. How would you solve that?
This industry is crazy. It’s really not like any other. Not only the outlaw thing, but so many young people and how now the suits are trying to tap in. Some of them are doing a really great job. It’s just crazy how many people and how many businesses are in this industry, and it’s just getting bigger and bigger.
For a brand, there are three really important things: focus, differentiation, and creating relationships. This industry has really smart people. They really know their game. If it’s training or nutrients or growing or lights. You can’t do everything and you can’t know everything.
I saw people becoming millionaires in less than a year, and I saw great businesses with great products that after less than a year, evaporate because they didn’t do it right. They didn’t differentiate themselves. They didn’t create relationships. They didn’t focus on the right customers.
Don’t try to get everyone on the planet to buy your products, because then you won’t sell to anyone. Be very specific. Align your values and your brand’s values and your product with a specific customer that has the same values and that can benefit from your specific product.
5. What do you think is going to be important for B2C business in the future, and how do you see the role of B2C marketers changing and evolving?
I think it’s going to be harder and harder. People want authenticity more than ever. Gen Z is very into being real and authentic. I actually like this generation. You can’t cut corners and can’t try to sweep it under the rug. It’s not like in the old days when you can do really shady things and no one would know for 100 years. Today, it will not last 100 days. The businesses have to be very focused and marketers have to be smart. Don’t cut corners or it will be a disaster. The best thing for a business is longevity. If you’re authentic and you’re real, you’ll get sustainable income for a long time.