Joint Effort: Why “Pot Shops” Need to Wake Up and Cultivate a Better Brand
Written by Kimberly MacArthur Graham on March 5, 2014
Hello, marijuana purveyors, a.k.a., “pot shops.” We here in Colorado, along with our equally liberal friends in Washington, passed the bong – er, bill – that gave you legal status. I may or may not smoke, but I do partake of beer, wine, spirits, and “live and let live.” Plus, I hope that laws might focus on frankly more critical matters such as rape and murder. So I’m good with making it legal to light up. What has unexpectedly offended me, however, is the predictable, hackneyed, one-note marketing. Must every logo involve a pot leaf or a “green cross”? Must every store name contain a reference to health, medicine, or “Mile High”? This lack of originality is enough to convince anyone that pot destroys your brain cells.
What happened to the brave new industry that wanted to normalize pot and appeal to the mainstream? I have news. The mainstream is not people who cling to the Age of Aquarius. Mainstream is me, my friends and neighbors – and we haven’t seen anything yet that tempts us. We are into wine shops, craft beers, farm-to-table cuisine, and small-batch liquors. We are into quality, unique experience, and ambiance . . . made readily accessible, instantly recognizable, and therefore ironically common. We want the Starbucks of Pot (Budbucks?), which of course someone is actually working on.
Until then, I cling to the fact that the only thing outnumbering pot shops are those ubiquitous coffee dens. Surely, as the field gets more crowded, economic Darwinism will force some better branding into the, uh, PIPEline. If someone is brave enough to brand a marijuana experience as cultured, sophisticated, and hip enough for hipsters, let me know and I’ll get in line. I just won’t inhale.