What’s in a name? Would a cannabis strain by any other name smell just as sweet? Naming is an extremely important part of marketing any CPG product and cannabis is no exception.

The History of Cannabis Naming

Before legalization, a cannabis cultivar’s name was really the only type of branding that a dealer could provide (in addition to offering dime bags with fun designs). Cannabis strains such as Sour Diesel, OG Kush, Pineapple Express, White Widow and Purple Haze are household names and have rich storied histories and lineages. These well-known and respected cultivars were born by breeders and seed banks across the world. These genetics were then passed down and passed along between thousands of growers, companies and brands.

How to name a strain

Why and When Do You Need to Name a Cannabis Strain?

As a cannabis industry marketer, occasionally you may be tasked with naming a new or existing strain. There are myriad reasons that you may need to name a strain. Sometimes strains are provided by breeders unnamed, just presenting the cross (example: Sour Diesel x OG Kush). Generally, when a strain is just presented as a cross, the brand or company will rename it to make it more easily marketable. Sometimes, the brand or company may not be allowed to market the strain under its original name due to supply agreements and other contractual obligations. Other times, brands will want to re-name strains to fit their own brand image and language. Whatever the reason may be, there are several factors you should take into consideration when creating a title for your next weed product.

How To Name a Cannabis Strain

In the world of cannabis, the name of a strain can make all the difference. It’s the tip of the spear, the first impression, and the key to unlocking a captivating narrative. Striking the right balance between creativity and authenticity is crucial in cannabis strain naming. Names should be distinctive and captivating, while avoiding exaggeration that consumers can easily detect. The most successful names embody the product’s essence and complement the overarching marketing strategy, offering both amusement and honesty. The best strain names elicit feelings within consumers and provide smokers with an idea of what type of experience to expect with that product.

As much as possible, strain names should:

  • Be close to the original true lineage set out by the breeder/hunter
  • Reference unique characteristics of the strain such as its appearance, effects or aroma
  • Pay homage to the original breeder and/or hunter
  • If renaming, receive permission and approval from the original hunter/breeder

The cannabis community values authenticity and transparency – so make sure your names do not mislead, but instead educate. By focusing on the unique characteristics of cannabis strains, compelling names can be crafted that genuinely pique consumer interest.

Case Study: San Rafael ‘71

One example of a marketer and a brand that takes naming strains seriously is Matt Coulson, previously working with Aurora Cannabis’ San Rafael ‘71. The brand has implemented a consistent, flavour-centric naming approach aligned with San Rafael ’71’s “Cannabis with Character” brand concept. These descriptive titles are conceptualized based on the most intriguing traits of each strain. SR71’s offerings include “Electric Honeydew,” “Buttered Toast,” “Mandarin Meltdown,” “Moon Berry” “Pink Diesel ’71” and more.

Aurora invests time and money into “naming research initiatives”, which includes a series of analyses to determine the best title for a product. After thorough sales research, the brand decided to adopt a flavour-based naming strategy, giving a preview of the aromas and tastes that consumers can expect to enjoy at a quick glance. For example, the cultivar name “Electric Honeydew” was selected after the brand rigorously tested it against nine strategically similar alternatives.

By investing in strategic naming, Aurora Cannabis saw a significant increase in San Rafael ’71 new product listing success rate, improved sales velocity on new San Rafael ’71 product launches and improved San Rafael ’71 brand perceptions.

This article was authored by the ADCANN team based on a case study created by Matt Coulson, a Marketing and Communications Professional with expertise in branding and product development in the cannabis industry. Those who enjoyed the content and may be interested in marketing services can view Matt’s portfolio at https://mattjcoulson.ca.

Last Updated on September 21, 2023 by ADCANN



ADCANN is a digital publication and content creation team that showcases the most creative concepts in the cannabis space.