Seven Leaf: Cannabis Production
Branding | Copywriting
Seven Leaf is now the first Indigenous owned and operated producer of cannabis licensed by Health Canada. We've been asked to create a full brand architecture for this innovative company.
In addition, we've been tasked with branding/positioning three distinct products that will be available in licensed dispensaries.
Process to Date:
Note: As of 1/26/19, we're just getting to product naming and creative exploration. Will post creative here soon, because the proof...is always...in the pudding. (Cue The Who shouting, “YEAHHH!”)
First Steps – Starting With Why
Despite the exceptional standards and vision that's come to define the operation, only recently have they found a need for compelling and consistent brand collateral.
But, through research and an on-site visit, we had enough to define a Why, How, and What for Seven Leaf.
As much as I dig Simon Sinek's methodology, I've yet to see examples of how to integrate the Golden Circle into a traditional brand architecture. (Maybe we aren't supposed to? Did I miss this part in the book?)
Archetypes = Brand Character
But, as Sinek notes, it does a nice job of codifying the "DNA" of a company. What's more, I feel like a good golden circle can be condensed into a succinct brand story/elevator pitch.
But even the best brand story is only so visceral. By leveraging brand archetypes at this early phase, the foundation on which we build the architecture is much more evocative/relatable.
Normally, I'd prefer to take the client themselves through the process of going from 60 possible archetypes to just two (a coupling of internal and external). But our ECD and Strategist felt comfortable "playing" the client for this important exercise.
So, in addition to the brand story, we now had Seven Leaf's Brand Character – The Citizen Pioneer.
Framing the House
Much like the brand archetypes, I like the "house" framework for brand architecture. It affords the whole redonculous shebang of branding more tangibility. (Most folk I've met understand the general approach to prudent home construction.)
And the more a client can feel like they understand the "physics" of your brand architecture, the more they'll stay bought-in (the latter of which often makes all the difference between an architecture that leads to nice work, and one that leads to a nice folder in a filing cabinet).
Uh. Moving In? To the...House?
Three rules are helpful here:
1. Employ the minimum number of elements that are absolutely necessary.
2. Ensure each element plays a role in guiding business operations or ongoing, impactful, brand creative (or, ideally both).
3. Within the brand architecture, each element (save for the brand grist/foundation, your story/character) should build from/on the element that precedes it.
One of the many rubs of branding is it's a really, hard, painful process even when it's going well. But you absolutely can go through hell and end up with nothing more than empty words in little boxes on a piece of paper. None of us want this, my friends. No.
The Importance of the Filter
As mentioned above, investing and laboring to produce a brand document that doesn't help guide work (operations and creative/marketing) is tragic. Because a great deal of money and time has been spent on a broken compass. But even if everyone knows it's a dud, the brand architecture will be pressed into service to avoid looking like a bunch of assholes.
This brings us to a brand filter. This feels like how we begin to weaponize all this good thinking. While I do think "essence" could be another way to capture the same idea, filter, to me, is the more tangible/instructive idea.
The intent of those who act on behalf of the brand must push their thinking/work through the brand filter to ensure it's on point. Conversely, things out in the world can be judged as "on brand" or not by assessing them back through the same filter. All very important when moving into productive naming, brand style, taglines, etc.
As a creative, I'm biased to the marketing, exploring, developing, and fine-tuning of the design and writing that begins once the architecture is sound.
To be able to do so, any completed architecture should help you parse "good ideas" from "good ideas for us." And this parsing ability should be both tangible and productive.
To bring it all home, here is a photograph by Richard Avedon. If you've developed a sound brand architecture which has, in turn, informed a strong filter, you shouldn't need a creative director to tell you whether or not this image is "on brand." And that's worth working towards.