Label PRomotion | Marijuana Label Lessons To Brand By

The volatility in the pot industry is a reminder to anticipate and prepare for changes that might impact company viability in other industries.

To put it mildly, cannabis-related businesses nationwide are edgy given the Trump team stand on marijuana—especially in states like Colorado and Washington where recreational use has become entrenched in the culture. Lessons being (and to be) learned in this industry provide valuable insights to product purveyors of all stripes. While the volatility of cannabis is in a league by itself, it’s always good to anticipate and prepare for changes both good and bad that might impact company viability—and by association, branding.

Brand like there’s no tomorrow

In the pot industry, operations could grind to an immediate halt if the Feds swoop in and shut down companies based on federal illegality of the drug. And, there’s currently a bunch of saber-rattling, from discussion of stopping recreational sales and allowing continued medical use right down to a total shutdown.

In addition to federal action, states are contemplating their strategies around various scenarios. For example, according to The Cannabist, “Colorado is considering an unusual strategy to protect its nascent marijuana industry from a potential federal crackdown, even at the expense of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax collections…A bill pending in the Legislature would allow pot growers and retailers to reclassify their recreational pot as medical pot if a change in federal law or enforcement occurs.” The article notes that this could prevent seizure of crops currently classified as recreational in the event of a federal crackdown on recreational use.

Deploy the crystal ball

Given this uncertainty and volatility, what steps can cannabis purveyors take to prepare for contingencies—and what lessons can other industries learn from this high-profile example?

1. Ready yourself to rebrand. Depending on what happens, companies may need to switch all labeling, packaging, and presentation to a medical platform. And, of course, new rules and regs imposed because of federal action could expand scope of disclosures on labels and other materials. Brainstorm ways to rebrand in the event it comes to pass. General lesson to be learned: Rules and regulations at city, state, and federal levels all can change—from permitted health claim verbiage to expanded explanations of ingredients. While these likely will roll out with a much longer lead time than cannabis purveyors may have, getting basics in place now can help ensure a thoughtful, effective transition later.

2. Extend education. Given that new regulations may mandate more information, explanation, and qualification, strategize how this could be handled on a label. Is it through an extended content label that folds out to reveal additional info? Would a QR code on the label linking consumers to an education and disclosure page be the ticket? Perhaps small explanatory pamphlets like those affixed to the sides of pharmaceutical samples would do the trick. General lesson to be learned: Consumer demand for more information is increasing all the time. More and more products are showing transparency about everything from ingredients to purity and health claims. Particularly if you’re in food and beverage, health and beauty, nutraceuticals, or other rapidly evolving and growing industries, it’s probably a matter of when, not if, these expanded information platforms will be required. Get on top of it now.

3. Create multiple looks. To really get a jump on possible changes, actually develop designs and as much as possible content to cover multiple contingencies, and get everything ready to print. In most cases, digital printing of labels and many other materials can be handled with extremely short turnaround times. In a matter of a few days, you could have an entire new look and feel. General lesson to be learned: The best time to at least consider how a rebrand might look is when you’re not under the gun to get it done. This also prepares companies for the ever-increasing need to stay nimble and ready to change to capitalize on everything from an emergent health announcement or trend to reputation repair in the event of a problem impacting your industry or company.

While many entrepreneurs would not want to sit where cannabis industry purveyors are currently, there certainly are important lessons to learn about getting and remaining nimble when it comes to all things branding.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is president of Lusky Enterprises Inc., a marketing communications and content development company. Since 2008, he has worked with Lightning Labels, a Denver-based all-digital custom label printing company, as a content developer specializing in expert advice articles. Lusky presents common-sense ideas grounded in doing what’s real and right for managing and enhancing public image.

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