In the Cannabis Industry today we have a myriad of problems affecting our marketplace. These problems are trickling down to every area of the industry to the point where many of the largest companies in California have announced serious layoffs and deep budget cuts as we prepare to go into 2020.
Everyone knows that there are many reasons for this:
For those of us who are still fighting on, believing that we can fix the problems created by the state, there is hope, if you can hunker down and hang on. Not only that, this is your opportunity to really see longterm and work to shape the next 40 or more years.
One major way to do that is through branding. Storytelling. How are people going to understand how fragile the flowering and harvesting and curing process is if we don't figure out how to tell them? How will they know that it matters that you let your flowers mature to get those trichomes nice and amber while your neighbor harvested the same genetic early while the trichomes are still clear? How are they going to see that you care so much about the details?
I will tell you how. YOU have to tell them. YOU have to do the writing. YOU have to publish articles on your site and share them to social media. YOU have to talk about your experiences and create new words and terms and share them with the community so we can all learn to use them. YOU have to devote a small portion of your day everyday to telling the story and pushing it to the world. YOU have to hear the feedback and refine the way you tell people so that you get better and better. No one is coming to save you. There is no secret formula. This is it.
As you educate people to your passion and knowledge, your branding will emerge. Who you are will become very clear, to them, to you, to everyone. What makes you different will become nearly impossible to miss. You will continue to gain market differentiation if you stay true to your core values and passions and you strive to communicate that to your customers daily.
I know it's hard. I know it seems like it's more than you can handle. I know you already put in 16 hour days. I know that you used to take off December to April and then work your Spring Summer and Fall relentlessly. I know that now, you don't get to take the winter off because that's how you stay ahead.
Keep going. It's worth it because we only have one life to live and spending it making sure the lives that come after us have a better world because of Cannabis, well, isn't that why we are all fighting so hard?
Yesterday I had the time and fortunate luck to stumble onto Seth Godin's Instagram Live about tension.
He riffed on the fact that creating tension is the process that pulls a person forward toward change. Marketers have used this for a long time to help you make decisions about life. Generally they use it to sell you more and make more money.
Here is an example put forward on the show Brain Games:
You walk into a movie theater, you go through the line and get your ticket. Then you proceed to the ever-expensive concession stand. You want popcorn and you see that the small quart size container is $4 and the gallon size large is $12. If you are like most people, you see the better deal in the small container as you don't want to spend drastically that much more for the large than the small.
The next day you go to see another new movie, only this time you walk in, get your ticket and go to the concession stand and now there is a medium that is exactly a split size between the small and the large and it is $9. Suddenly, your frame of reference for pricing on the small and large is very different. Now, if you are most people, you perceive that the large is now the best deal because you perceive a large savings in the jump from small to medium to large. You buy the large.
These decisions aren't conscious. We are lead around our modern world by our noses and we rarely are aware.
That is the point of this post.
A: Let's all decide to be more aware of the subtle messaging in our consumer oriented world.
B: Learn to use these techniques of tension in your own world to make the world a better place. These techniques aren't inherently bad, it all depends on the level of intent that we put behind our tension.
Riffing a little more, you can learn to see this tension everywhere. The way we get ready in the morning to get the attention of our boss or girlfriend or coworker that we want to impress, The musical tension in a song that makes it go to that super funky bridge, that art piece that makes you wonder just exactly what the artist is saying, the teacher who gives you just enough information to make you want to learn more on your own...
Tension is all around us, and it is up to us to see it and use it for good or let others see it and use it to direct us to whatever purposes they think are good for us.
Which do you prefer?
The intersection of cannabis and the world of design and marketing is quite interesting indeed. Traditionally, in recent history, design has served the corporate and industrial needs of the world by creating messaging and communication intended to sell sell sell. That selling has gone down a path towards more and more convenience, luxury and single use items leading to mass pollution.
On the other side, cannabis is a plant that when studied, teaches us that the natural world has much more to offer. Aside from the cannabinoid content, the oils and the nutritional and medicinal aspects of the plant, it can do nearly anything we can imagine it to do. We can use the oils of the plant to make fuel, plastics (biodegradable at that), cosmetics, adhesives, cleaners, food and more. We haven't even talked about the fiber of the plant, which is one of the strongest we have discovered in nature. It can be used to make clothing, building materials, furniture, insulation... Then imagine recombining the properties of the oil and the fiber...plywood and fiberboard, hemp post-it notes, hemp fiberglass... All the modern products that we make with oil, we can make with plants, and make it so those things are more easily absorbed back into the earth. And I have yet to mention terpenes! The chemical possibilities of cannabis are just as astounding!
The world of design is huge. We don't think about it much as we mostly take it for granted. It's like air. It's everywhere. Every screw, every bolt, every structural beam, every frame, every sign, every road, every fit and finish, design is everywhere. Architectural design, industrial design, graphic design, communication design, sound design, fashion design, product design, packaging design, all of these things have the potential to be majorly disrupted and impacted by the cannabis plant. We haven't even begun.
The revolution that is about to happen in the design world impacts all of us. What we design designs us in return, so we would all do well to really think through the consequences of our actions and to focus on our goals and make current decisions based on that. There is no excuse to put out a cannabis product in packaging that isn't 100% hemp. The only reason that hemp packaging isn't meeting the design standards of normal plastics, papers, cardboards and printing processes is because most companies settle. They settle for tree paper products because it looks better and it's cheaper. Remember the old adage, sell sell sell? Well here we are again.
Just like the organic food movement, real change will happen when consumers decide they don't care if the packaging doesn't look as good because the concept of "better" has a new definition. Better means the blacks are not necessarily the blackest when printed (yet), but the ink and paper are compostable and plant based so it returns to the natural earth more easily. It means that having shiny gold foil plastic inside of a box might have to be clear or brown for now and the consistency might not be as good, but again, It's compostable and better for us and our environment. Wouldn't it be great if 100% of our trash could convert directly to compost and mulch for farming and gardening?
We have to make the decision to tell a new story about what better is. Our concept of comfort and convenience has to change, and we have to make the demand with our dollars. If you are a consumer, look for products made from partial or 100% hemp and buy them even if the quality isn't there yet. It's a tiny sacrifice in the longterm. If you are a business, look for packaging that is hemp based and use it, even if the look and feel isn't there yet. Better yet, if you have a business that is currently in fabrics or plastics or any kind of product manufacturing, you ought to be creating your own sources or processes for more and more hemp in your products. First movers are going to win in the long run with this strategy. Use it as a story to promote your corporate responsibility. Publicly shame companies and competition not doing the same. Show your customer that their dollars are making real demonstrable change.
Tell others about why you are making these decisions and encourage them to do the same. This is how revolutions happen friends so let's stay on target.
Love and Peace,
I have a serious love hate relationship with signs. Really, you wouldn't believe how much I think about this. Literally every time I step outside.
Let's start with the good ones.
Stops signs are gorgeous, I love 'em. Except when they are in the middle of nowhere and you have immense visibility in all directions and it is is clear that the next car to reach the intersection will arrive sometime next year. Ugh.
Building directories are great, I love being able to find the office I am looking for. Tastefully placed, beautiful business signs are awesome too, thanks for letting me know where you are and who you are. A well placed yield sign is also one of my favorites, reminding us to be aware and pay attention to what's around us. Street signs are nice too, helping generations of people find their way. I am sure there are a few more that I really love and appreciate the value of, but I shall leave off to the fun part...
Signs I hate.
That bike lane sign right next to the brightly painted bike lane that has painted signs on the ground as well as on a post. Argh. That street in my city that has like ten thousand signs that repeat over and over and over and over and you can see ALL OF THEM from every part of the street. Bike Lane, No Parking, Center Lane Turn Only, Bike Lane, No Parking, Center Lane Turn Only, Bike Lane, No Parking, Center Lane Turn Only, Bike Lane, No Parking, Center Lane Turn Only, Bike Lane, No Parking, Center Lane Turn Only, Bike Lane, No Parking, Center Lane Turn Only... RAGE! How can we spend money like this? What idiot approved this? The snow route sign (you really need to tell us when there is two feet of snow on the ground and it becomes exceedingly obvious which roads are plowed first?). The crosswalk sign (I think the black and white stripes across the road are enough). Speed limit signs (we should be expected to drive respectfully and safely anyways, why do we need a sign?) The list goes on and on...
I feel there is a root issue here that needs addressing. Why do we expect ourselves as human beings to be so disrespectful and foolish in our travel habits? Do we honestly believe that someone is going to drive in the bike lane if there is no sign on the post? Are we creating stupidity and disrespect by expecting it? I think so. I think somehow we have been tricked into believing that we need this constant authority and policing in our lives to be aware of our surroundings and move through our day without killing each other.
What if we expected ourselves to be more aware and respectful of each other? What if we expected that when a car was coming up on a bike or a pedestrian, he or she would slow down and happily give right of way and share without having to be told to?
I drive/bike/walk by one rule. I must be aware of 100% of my surroundings to travel and move amongst you all, the moment I realize I am not, I must slow down. A lot.
We are all in such a hurry all the time to get where we are going and do what we are doing, as if in our own narcissistic way we are the only thing that matters so you better GET OUT OF THE WAY!
We are all part of this daily experience of being alive together and moving about in time and space is part of that. We should slow down and enjoy it rather than cluttering our view with rules and indications that are irrelevant and only bog us down.
Everything is a pattern. We figure this out at as young age. Patterns of life, the sun, the moon, the tides, our parents habits, eat, work, eat, work, eat, play, eat, sleep, repeat. Then we learn about math and science and how an atom contains a whole galaxy of activity and yet the universe is bigger than we can even see. And the whole thing is a giant system of systems that contain systems with patterns that are made of even more systems... You get the point.
Art is that way too. And if you master any systems of any art form, many of the principles and much of the knowledge translates to other art forms. Ultimately communication and relationship seems to be the grand reason for all of these systems. A cave drawing let people know where the hunting grounds were or described a sacred place. The bright colors of the poison arrow frog let everyone know it is dangerous. How band of musicians are getting along can be sensed by an audience and their experience is affected much in the same way that a painter can inflict emotion on his or her viewer. Everything that we experience with all six of our senses tells a story of light and dark, sacrifice and life. Energy keeps moving. It never stops. It's exciting to me to wonder about the future of my energy as an experiential being in this universe and help that thought process through the exercise of the patterns of art.
Having worked in professional recording studios and been a musician of the digital age, this has been a much pondered question. The debate has raged on in the public forum and many of my working philosophies have depended on what my stance is with this very subject.
It wasn't until recent years that this was even a question. Audiophiles of yore could easily prove the wonderful experience of hi-fi analog sound. But then tech caught up. And suddenly you could only tell the difference because the analog was actually degraded and noisier! Everything was suddenly flipped upside down and we had a sound revolution.
But the Analog champions kept waving their flag saying things like, "the extra noise actually creates glue in the sound," or, "it's the infinite compression, man." I never could tell the difference. My ears, even as a professional, were not golden enough to hear the impact on the music.
Until March 31st 2014.
I finally went all out and bought a really nice record player. I also happened to have top notch studio reference gear. I got the system all set up and had a listening party. Of course the first record I played had to be brand new, and it had to be the baddest new music I could think of. So I got Mehliana: Taming the Dragon by Brad Mehldau and Mark Giuliana.
We cranked it and sat in silence. I could feel them. We were in the same room. The sense of space was unlike anything I have experienced withholding live performances. But this WAS a live performance! At least, it felt that way. I got to thinking about gnosticism and the idea of emanations of being, and how music is a momentary emanation of the performers being. I was in the room with these guys! Then the emanation thought led back to my experience with all recorded media and reminded me that a part of the artist's soul is in every one of his or her creations.
And it hit me. The reason analog is better is I am actually experiencing analog reproductions of the sound of a moment in time that has been captured infinitely, whereas the digital is just slices and samples of that same moment. Does it sound better? In the technical academic way, no. But, I believe you are closer in reality to the moment by experiencing an analog reproduction of the moment rather than the the sampled digital version, and that experience, to me is a much more momentous and precious feeling than I have had with recorded music ever before. I was able to actually touch and commune with my favorite musicians of all time.
Pretty awesome, I recommend trying it.