Now is the time to strengthen your brand to make it a top contender in what is likely to be a $35 to $45 billion industry. Many cannabis companies/brands are right now fighting for market recognition and dominance. Those without a recognizable and protected brand name will not stand a chance.

Sellers of unprocessed marijuana are behind the branding curve. Cannabis is being sold primarily as a commodity. Though there is differentiation among plant varieties, few brand names have emerged like they have for edibles and other processed cannabis products. This presents a unique opportunity for producers to be the first to market with well-branded cannabis.

Cannabis consumers are not really thinking much in terms of brands yet, but that is largely because the industry is so new and because so few companies have done what they need to do to create real brand awareness. With legalization looming large in multiple states across the country, the way consumers make decisions about their cannabis purchases will no doubt shift. Consumers will be faced with choices about what cannabis to consume, and just as with alcohol and tobacco, branding and marketing will influence their choices.

How will you differentiate your product from the similar looking product next to it in the display case? What will lead consumers to buy your Brand A instead of your competitor’s Brand B? Will your marijuana be a commodity sold at commodity prices or will it be a brand consumers seek out and are willing to pay more to have?

The cannabis industry does not yet have any Wal-Marts or Anheuser-Busch Inbevs. This means that small scale producers have an opportunity now to build their brand so that they will have a head start with a loyal customer base and consumer recognition as legalization spreads across the country.

Accomplishing brand recognition and protection is uniquely difficult for marijuana products, however, because it is not possible to register a federal trademark due to the illegality of cannabis on the federal level. However, there are workarounds. For instance, many states will allow you to register a state trademark for both your brand names and your strain names. Note though that contrary to what some lawyers are claiming, there is no such thing as a regional trademark, and it is not possible to register these marks at the federal level. See example #8 in Top Ten Marijuana Industry Red Flags.

For more on the importance of building and protecting your cannabis brand, check out the following: