Trailer Park Buds, Casablanca and more legal-weed brands
Music connections, lifestyle messages used to attract legal pot purchasers
Officials at Canadian cannabis company The Cronos Group say they are confident the name they have chosen for one of their pot brands will not appeal to children. It’s called Spinach.
The brand is for “fun-loving mature adults who are sick of hearing about kale,” says the cheeky explanation from the company that operates growing facilities in Ontario and B.C.
Spinach is one of the more fanciful names of brands created by Canadian companies whose products go on sale today as Canada legalizes recreational pot.
A catchy name is key for companies building brands from scratch in a new industry that is heavily regulated. Companies are banned from most advertising because the federal government wants to squelch the promotion of pot.
When customers stroll into pot stores or shop online they will be confronted with dozens of products sold in plainish packages dominated by health warnings. Cannabis companies can choose a single colour for their packages and add a small brand logo.
Will shoppers remember the name Spinach, and come back for another serving?
Or how about “Saturday,” a word that conjures anything from a night on the town to shopping at Canadian Tire? The company behind that brand, Starseed Holdings, says Saturday is about “making time for yourself” and bringing “those brief moments of freedom to any day of the week.” One of the strains is called Saturday Afternoon, not to be confused with another strain offered by producer Aphria, called “Sunday Special.”
Some brand names suggest gentle fun — Goodfields, Good Supply. Others are edgier. Invictus MD Strategies Corp. offers “Sinister,” while GTEC Holdings Ltd. plans to unleash “BLK MKT” (“an homage to the legacy of cannabis prohibition”). Both promise high THC, the chemical that makes users high.
Feeling patriotic? Canaca from High Park Holdings is for “Canadian cannabis enthusiasts.” The company’s Dubon, a “vibrantly Québécois” brand, will be sold in that province, and the “wild and free” Yukon Rove is reserved for tokers in that territory.
Brands influence virtually everything we buy, and cannabis will be no different, says Brad Rogers, president of Ontario grower CannTrust Holdings Inc.
“This is definitely a brand game. It’s not anything other than that.”
He makes an apt comparison with other products. “I’m not sure who grows Starbucks beans, or Heinz’s tomatoes, or AnheuserBusch’s hops, but they make great products and they brand them well, and distribute them well, and make good margins for their shareholders. And that’s what I’d like to do with this business.”
The names created for strains of marijuana range from street slang — Pink Kush, Tangerine Dream, Rockstar Kush — to monikers that make smoking pot sound like a trip to the spa: Renew, Restore, Rest, Refresh, Relax, Unplug.
The AltaVie brand (“making mindfulness more attainable”) has a strain that offers a clever twist on the chill-vibe theme. It’s called “Airplane Mode.”
“Dancehall,” a Spinach strain described on the website as “clearheaded, active and energizing,” might speak to the nightclub crowd.
For names that channel the romance of the great outdoors, AltaVie has Campfire and Northstar. Two different companies have strains called Sensi-Star.
Some companies promise to make it easier to choose the right pot by naming strains after moods or activities. Solei, a brand that promises to “help you find your light,” offers strains “suited to any occasion,” according to the website. The names? Gather, Sense, Balance, Free, Unplug and Renew. “Skip the yoga class and still find your Zen,” says the website description for Balance. Free, a sentiment anyone can get behind, is “your spa escape — without the hefty bill.”
CannTrust’s Xscape brand gets more specific, with strains called Walk the Dog, TGIF and Flix ’n Chill. “You can imagine what you’ll be doing and what (the cannabis) will be doing for you,” Rogers said.
The names will also help educate customers who don’t know the difference between strains, Rogers said.
“When you ask someone, ‘Hey, did you smoke a joint last night?’ ‘Yeah, I smoked a joint last night.’ ‘Well, what was it?’ ‘Well, I have no idea. It was weed.’ ”
CannTrust’s Liiv brand includes strain names that will sound familiar to “experienced users,” says Rogers, such as Buddha Haze and Bali Kush. The other names? Easy Cheesy, Yin & Yang, Clarity Coast and Kinky Kush.
Aphria’s brand for “experienced users” who want “high potency” products is called RIFF.
At OrganiGram Holdings Inc. in New Brunswick, the premium brand is called The Edison Cannabis Company, after Thomas Edison, the inventor who helped create the motion picture camera. Following that theme, the strains are named after classic movies: Lola Montès, Rio Bravo, Casablanca, City Lights, La Strada.
At first, the names will be paired with the corresponding traditional cannabis names, said Organigram’s chief operating officer Ray Gracewood. City Lights is Critical Kush, for example. The old names will eventually be dropped as customers become more familiar with the new ones, he said.
The Edison brand will also be included in a variety pack by the AHLOT company that allows users to sample strains from five different companies.
Tweed, the huge grower in
Smiths Falls, is counting on the name recognition of strains sold to its medical-marijuana users. Those familiar names will migrate to the recreational side of the market. They include: Argyle, Bakerstreet, Highlands, Penelope, Herringbone, Balmoral, Boaty McBoatface, Houndstooth, Donegal and Tweed CBD.
Dreaming up names is the fun part of the business, said Jay Wilgar, CEO of Newstrike Brands Ltd., the parent company of Up Cannabis, in an interview.
Up has a financial and creative relationship with the Tragically Hip. In July, the company announced five strain names that were a nod to Hip song titles, but since then one name was dropped and two others shortened, making the association less clear. A strain called “Morning Moon,” for example, which is the title of a song, has been changed to simply Moon. “Perfect for couch surfing,” says the company description.
The titles are “inspired by Tragically Hip experiences,” said Wilgar in a statement to shareholders.
The other strains are Grace (“may make you want to try hibernation over socialization”); Gems (“at first you may try to take your pants off over your head, but you’ll quickly get your groove on”), 50 (“gives you a cerebral boost”) and Meridian (“the perfect start to an evening shared with friends”).
Associating marijuana with attractive lifestyles is also prohibited.