The Weed Wars are coming. As the legalization of marijuana continues to move forward, we will see hundreds of homegrown brands turn into a handful of big brands and eventually a couple of dominant brands.
It happened with cars; it happened with beer; it happened with computers; it happened with energy drinks. It will happen with marijuana.
Being first in the mind with the right name goes a long way in dominating a category. In personal computers, Apple was a much better name that TRS-80 or Commodore Pet. In beer, Yuengling was first but never got into mind outside of its home town because the name was bad. Budweiser had a better name and was also the first beer brand to pursue a national strategy.
In addition, Budweiser had a powerful visual hammer. The old-fashion beer wagon pulled by Clydesdales. Interestingly, this was originally a marketing stunt used to mark the end of prohibition. But Budweiser was smart enough to keep the Clydesdales and the beer wagons rolling to dramatize its slogan “The King of Beers.”
Today, we are seeing many marijuana brands start to hit the market. The first brand comes with a name we know well, Marley as in Bob Marley.
The brand is “Marley Natural.” An icon closely associated with Jamaica, Reggae and marijuana, pictures of Bob Marley usually included a haze of pot smoke. Marley considered pot a healing herb and was a strong believer in its legalization. So a brand using his name makes a lot of sense.
However, there are a few things that concern me with this strategy.
1. The name “Marley natural.” Come on. Bob Marley was not shy about his feelings about marijuana. As the first major brand, why are they attempting to hide it? Especially when they have a chance to leverage alliteration! Marley Marijuana is a much strong brand name.
2. The Visual Hammer. The current logo is a lion! What does a lion have to do with Marley? He had a song “Iron, Lion, Zion,” recorded in 1973, but released post-posthumously in 1992. A bigger song was Buffalo Solider. If they wanted an animal, maybe a Buffalo would have been better. Or a bird for “Three Little Birds.” These songs are known by the masses. The best visual, however, for a brand named Marley is obvious. They need to use Marley! Marley is to pot, as Colonel Sanders is to fried chicken.
3. The Marley competition. A ton of Marley merchandise has been on the market for years. While the images, t-shirts and souvenirs have kept his image in the public eye, it also weakens the use of his name on the one product it makes the most sense. For example, the Marley name and logo is also used on a widely-selling line of coffee. Maybe they could sell the coffee and the pot together. “Marley can wake you up and calm you down.”
The best solution. If they want to be one of the couple of marijuana brands that will ultimately dominate the market, they need to get out of all other businesses like coffee and souvenirs and focus on marijuana. Then dump the lion and use the King of Marijuana himself, Bob Marley. If they do this, I have high hopes for their success.
Here I even redesigned a logo free of charge.