We have all seen pharmaceutical commercials on TV. We’ve read the names of the drugs our doctors have written on prescription pads. We have had so much exposure to prescription medications that we know what drug names should sound like. They should sound scientific and at least a little bit complicated. Compare that to the odd enterprise that is medical cannabis branding.
It is odd in the sense that product names do not sound at all like prescription medications. Take Cookies brand cannabis sold by Beehive Farmacy in Utah. If a pharmaceutical company were to release a heart medication under the name ‘cookie’, the company and its marketing team would be ridiculed to no end. But the same brand name is completely acceptable in the medical cannabis space.
Branding Has a Purpose
Understanding the difference between medical cannabis and other prescription medications begins with understanding the purpose of branding. By and large, branding is the practice of associating a company’s product or service with a its messaging. Brands want customers to associate them with whatever particular message will get them to buy. That’s why so many companies rely on lifestyle branding today.
Lifestyle branding equates brands with desirable lifestyles. Consider beer commercials. Don’t they almost always feature large groups of young people getting together to have a good time? Sometimes the commercials are shot on a beach. Other times they depict a group of friends gathered around a pool. Regardless, the goal is to associate the product with good times and good company.
It turns out that cannabis companies do the exact same thing. They just do it in a different way. Medical cannabis companies cannot advertise on TV. They can’t create lifestyle-based commercials that associate their products with happiness and fun experiences. However, they can come up with creative product names that jumpstart the imagination. So that is what they do.
A Tasty Treat
What is the first thing you think of when someone mentions cookies? Unless you are a fan of the Cookies brand of cannabis products, you probably think of those tasty treats your mother used to bake. Maybe you even have a favorite type of cookie you purchase every time you go to the grocery store. The point is that you associate good things with cookies.
So now, imagine you are a new medical cannabis user in Utah. You pay your first visit to the Beehive Farmacy where you see Cookie’s brand products on the shelf. The name alone encourages good feelings and positive thoughts. If you have a thing for chocolate chip cookies, chances are you will at least consider buying the Cookies brand at Beehive. That’s the point.
Marketing Over Science
The reality of the healthcare industry is that it must promote marketing over science in order to reach customers. That is just the nature of a for-profit healthcare system. Both big pharma and the medical cannabis industry rely on combining traditional marketing methods with unique branding messages to gain market share. Those that do the best job end up with a larger market share.
What makes medical cannabis so odd is that branding and marketing rarely focus on anything having to do with medication. At least with pharmaceutical companies, they can say what they expect their drugs to do for people suffering from specific conditions. Medical cannabis companies cannot.
The odd enterprise that is medical cannabis branding depends almost exclusively on making people feel good about a brand’s products based on emotional appeal. That’s why names like ‘Cookies’ are chosen. Brand names are really the only open door to reaching new customers.