Unique Branding Approaches in Canadian Cannabis

Matt Zehner

As the Canadian cannabis market has evolved and more brands have hit the market, it’s become harder to stand out. Cannabis brands in Canada have to adhere to strict regulations on packaging and promotion. Creativity has to come through unique approaches, targeted positioning, and strong associations. Brands need to be memorable to convert awareness into purchasing and (ideally) loyalty. 


Here, we highlight Canadian cannabis brands making unique choices in the Canadian marketplace. 


The Cannabis Brand that Sells Fish

Habitat is not just a producer of cannabis – they are a producer of fish. This unique cultivator sustainably grows organic cannabis and organic coho salmon. It utilizes a closed-loop water management system - aquaponics - that does not require the use of soil. 


The salmon are fed and create waste in the tanks, which is converted by microbes into fertilizer and CO2. The cannabis plant absorbs the water, nutrients, and CO2 and outputs clean water via transpiration. This allows 99% of water in the ecosystem to be re-used. In addition to finding their cannabis on shelves, you can purchase their salmon for your next dinner.


Streetwear Style, but for Cannabis

With a name like Kolab Project, you could be forgiven for thinking that Auxly's brand is a fashion label alongside streetwear. Companies such as Off-White, Bathing Ape, or Frank Ocean's Blonded come to mind. 


On its website, stylized depictions of rotating cannabis containers appear alongside modern art photographs and images of models in fashionable clothing. Though the packaging is simple,  Kolab's website feels like entering the world of youthful fashion. It makes the products appeal to younger individuals by association. Their art projects and merch also adds to the youthful, exclusive vibe they are going for. 


Cannabis on Your Block

TerrAscend's Haven St. developed the metaphor that it’s products live in a physical cannabis community. Items have their own unique addresses. They all exist in a fictionalized cannabis community where flower and oil live alongside one another in perfect harmony.


Each of the five blocks appeals to a specific use instance with a variety of products designed for each. On the 100s block you will find Peace products designed for relaxation, including CBD-dominant flower, vapes, and tea. The 500s block's Rise features high THC products that take consumers to a higher state.


The Cannabis Brand for Women

While many brands aim for a broad consumer base, Eve & Co. produces products for women exclusively. The company was founded and is led by women, placing a special emphasis on wellness, empowerment, and education. 


In terms of products, Eve & Co. produces items women enjoy, like infused bath bombs. They also name their flower products based on identities – such as “The Artist”, “The Advocate”, and “The Confidant”. 


Unique Rebranding

To address consumer concerns around low-quality cannabis, HEXO rebranded its UP Cannabis brand. It introduces the UP20 promise; every flower is 20% THC or higher. 


While others have quietly commented on improved product quality, UP is owning its improvements. The brand admits “a lot of people were let down by legal cannabis.” Directly addressing dissatisfied customers, they ask: “Ready to give us another shot?”


This approach aims to empathize with consumers. UP wants them to know it recognizes what they’re dealing with. The brand understands the shortcomings consumers have witnessed on the formal market. The brand hopes to gain consideration from customers previously dissatisfied and stand out in a crowded field of legacy Canadian LPs. 


Quality Products and Technology

Flowr (The Flowr Corporation) has taken a branding approach that seems to be paying off. In the typical province, Flowr product is about 44% more expensive than average. Despite the price premium, the brand has successfully reached cannabis enthusiasts to increase its metrics across the funnel. 


By focusing on consistent sensory experiences with robust terpene profiles, it has effectively appealed to a sophisticated user base. The company’s scale allows it to adapt prices in line with demand while maintaining its appeal among premium product consumers.


Finally, PAX Cartridges takes loyalty to a new level. To use the company’s pod-based vape products, consumers must purchase its vaporizers. This effectively locks new customers into purchasing again if they would like to make good on their initial investment. 


The brand also has expanded awareness by partnering with other Canadian brands to create pods for PAX's Era device. This takes advantage of the awareness of these other brands to convert them into PAX purchasers.

Do these unique approaches result in success? Download What Does it Take? - our report exploring Canadian cannabis brands converting aware consumers to loyal customers. 



Last Updated: 2/25/2021