In our exclusive Insider Info series, Business View talks with the top Cannabis influencers and advocates about the world’s hottest burgeoning industry. This month, we sit down with Jared Mirsky, CEO/Founder of Wick & Mortar.
BVM: What is the first piece of advice you’d give to a business considering going into or expanding into Cannabis?
Mirsky: “My first piece of advice would be to listen. There are so many people that come into this industry claiming to have a “game changer” unlike anything that’s ever been seen before. They are all convinced the industry won’t survive without their ingenuity. What’s important for anyone coming into this business to realize is that there are people who have been growing this plant, fighting for legalization and decriminalization, and crafting tinctures for decades. Learn from them!
“Right behind that, I would advise them to consider strategic partnerships. Not every company has to do every single thing, especially when they are first getting started. Take a look at what your core competencies are and then forge strategic partnerships to fill the gaps. We take care of a lot in-house, but our strategic partners are so important because they allow us to provide even more value to our clients.”
BVM: What are some common missteps/mistakes you see?
Mirsky: “By far, the most common branding misstep I see are brand names with “canna-” or some other colloquial cannabis term. Undoubtedly, these names usually come paired with a pot leaf and a black and green color scheme. This type of branding is overplayed, weakens your brand in terms of diversification and harms your ability to protect your intellectual property. With very few exceptions, we strongly encourage any client utilizing any of these overplayed brand attributes to go through the rebrand process.
“Now, this isn’t always a misstep or a mistake, but rather the results of changing times. In fact, our agency was formerly known as Online Marijuana Design. We had a pot leaf in our logo and a black and green color scheme. At the time it worked very well. But times change and a savvy business owner will recognize and act upon the shift. Rebranding to Wick & Mortar has provided monumentally positive results, allowing the agency to grow and take on more sophisticated clients. Our own success with the rebranding process is why we preach its virtues so hard.”
BVM: Can you share any notable achievements of businesses who’ve been able to hit the ground running?Mirsky: “I think Dosist did a great job with their rebrand from Hmbldt. Their vape pens are super sleek, dose-specific, and highly engineered. They clearly wanted to reach beyond the classic cannabis consumer and expand into the greater wellness audience. I think their name change really helped usher them into that. While Humboldt (of which Hmbldt was derived) holds a special significance for the cannabis industry, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything to the wellness-obsessed mom shopping on Abbot Kinney that they were trying to reach. On the other hand, the name Dosist, and the chic branding and product that supports it, says to that mom, “We’ve got exactly what you need, in the exact right dose, and in a beautiful pen that will fit right inside of your Dagne Dover fanny pack.” People love it.”
BVM: How important is cultivating an alignment with the city where a business’s operations are based?
Mirsky: “The importance of this depends greatly on what kind of cannabis business you are running. For licensed retailers, producers, and processors, having a good relationship with both your community and the local government is invaluable. In Canada, many provinces hold public hearing periods before granting a cannabis license, allowing people in that community to express their approval or disapproval. If you’ve taken the time to get to know your community and rally support behind you, this public hearing period is a breeze.”
BVM: What do you expect the next couple years will look like from a growth perspective?
Mirsky: “We’re really only beginning to scrape the cannabis industry’s potential growth. To comprehend the level of growth we’re on the precipice of, you have to consider the global scale. I spoke at a cannabis conference in Colombia this year, a country that is shaping up to be a major exporter of cannabis. It was amazing to see the excitement and potential. As more countries come to their senses about legalization and decriminalization, huge new markets become available and explode growth exponentially.
“With this massive growth will come inevitable mergers and acquisitions. Many of the smaller operations will be bought by larger corporations. For those who want to stand a fighting chance against getting acquired, and for those whose exit strategy is getting acquired, strong branding will be of utmost importance.”
AT A GLANCE
Who: Wick & Mortar CEO/Founder Jared Mirsky
What: Wick & Mortar is a tight-knit creative team who strategize and develop compelling visual identities for cannabis brands.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaredmirsky/ – Grab his headshot from here