This week’s Trailblazer is Stephanie Faye, Founder of A Brand Apart, a graphic design agency that specializes in cannabis package design and branding.
Questions with a Cannabis Industry Trailblazer
When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
I started working in the cannabis industry as the designer at Mobius Trimmer in October 2017, a year before legalization. I knew the industry was very young and there was a lot of design potential for a brand new product. During my time there I expanded on the existing branding, created the website, promotional materials, customer-facing and internal documents, photography, videography, social media, and various other creative work that came up on a day-to-day basis.
As of January this year, I began freelancing in a full-time capacity and work with some cannabis dispensaries, producers, and co-ops in addition to non-cannabis brands.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
Designing within the limitations imposed by Instagram, Facebook, and other social media outlets. I’ve seen a number of legit accounts get deleted, which makes it difficult to navigate those restrictions and still promote your client and their products. But there are alternatives popping up now, like CannaBuzz, which is basically Instagram for weed accounts.
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
The regulations on packaging designs! A lot of LPs have found clever ways to work around them, but I would love if the cannabis industry was more like that of craft beer where you get incredibly inventive and creative label designs that still have all the necessary information on them.
Also, the amount of waste produced because of the packaging regulations is pretty appalling. I would love to see some more approved eco-friendly options enter the industry. There are some cool new containers made with hemp plastic and other compostable options that could make a big difference if more companies were open to embracing them, and Health Canada approved them for use.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
I think this depends a bit on what the product or company is. A dispensary would probably rely more on Instagram and connecting with their local customers, (despite the potential to have their account shut down), whereas a company making ancillary products would do better to focus on their site, SEO and other things that could help establish them as a leader in their category – such as webinars or whitepapers – especially if their product is available to a wider audience than local customers.
In terms of techniques, though, I would say being transparent, speaking to your target audience in an authentic voice, avoiding cliches and just focusing on the passion that goes into the brand you’re marketing makes all the difference.
”Know the voice of your company from the start and be consistent across all different channels, whether on your site, social media, promotional materials, etc.
Also, your audience likes to see what you’re doing, so showing behind the scenes of your grows or a day at your dispensary, for example, are great ways to involve them and show them what goes into making your product. Highlighting staff members doing their job, fun things they do as a company etc. and focusing on the people behind the scenes is also a great marketing tool and a good way to give personality to the brand. These all help build rapport and a sense of customer loyalty and evolve into a bit of a community over time. I love seeing brands interact with their followers on Instagram.
Are there any other Trailblazers in the cannabis industry that you follow?
I’ve always been a fan of Glasfurd & Walker and loved what they did with the Pure Sunfarms rebrand. I also like Webb Creative, who were responsible for the amazing Doja and Broken Coast branding. Really awesome people too. And finally, my ex-coworker Johnathan McFarlane at Hybrid Marketing never ceases to amaze me with his creative ideas for promotion and marketing in this industry.
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to people looking to enter the cannabis industry?
While there are a lot of restrictions on what can and can’t be designed, posted, or promoted, the industry is still so new that there’s a lot of room to expand, push the envelope, experiment with different design styles. It’s been really interesting watching the legal market evolve and see what emerges. Also, learn about the plant. It’s way easier to market something you know.
A big thank you to Stephanie for participating as this week’s Trailblazer! Stay tuned for another interview with a cannabis marketing Trailblazer next Thursday in the ADCANN blog.
Interested in working with one of these talented cannabis marketers? Check out our Agency Directory for a list of all the agencies that specialize in working with cannabis companies.