Marijuana Business Magazine November December 2018

FROM THE CEO'S DESK l f there is a word I hear a lot in the cannabis industry, it’s “brand.” From elevator speeches to investment pitches to advertisements, it seems that every company is “the leading brand” in whatever it’s doing. It reminds me strongly of the dot-com days, when everyone from and AOL to Amazon and eBay was running up their stock prices by citing the eyeballs they had on their sites. Noted marketing guru David Ogilvy defines brand as “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.” However, if you look at the context in which today’s cannabis industry uses the word, you might well come to believe that brand is the sole thing that is going to make or break every single company in this space. To be clear, I fully agree that a strong brand is critical to long-term success. Where I draw the line is where brand is presented as the leading element of that success, rather than the result of it. Entrepreneurs love to talk about their brand. It’s nebulous, based on feelings and impressions. It’s intangible – and therefore malleable, flexible and easily manipulated to suit the needs of the moment. Any opportunity to discuss the brand allows the entrepreneur to convey the impression that this is a company that knows its direction, understands the value of marketing and has a good handle on those critical elements of success. By all means, pay attention to the promise of the brand in question as you evaluate business and investment opportunities in the cannabis space. But don’t confuse a recognizable brand name backed by some clever early marketing with a well-established brand presence that will propel a company to tangible success. In fact, a company must have strong fundamental underpinnings to deliver each and every day on its brand promise. That consistent delivery on its promise is what creates an effective brand, not the other way around. Despite the many correlations drawn between the tech boom and the green rush, there are key fundamental differences. There is, in fact, an actual physical product at the core of this industry, something that can be touched and smelled and consumed. That said: Watch out for those correlations. We have an excellent road map drawn in the recent past about what can happen when irrational exuberance builds to unnatural levels over something as ephemeral as “eyeballs” ... or “brands.” Wishing you well, Cassandra Farrington President & CEO, MJBizDaily ‘Brand’ ls The New ‘Eyeballs’ 8 • Marijuana Business Magazine • November/December 2018