November 13, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Brand Joint Heads to MJBiz Con

Jennifer Culpepper, Brand Joint's Founder and Creative Director is heading to Las Vegas this week for MJBizCon, Marijuana Business Daily's three day conference and expo. Each year, Jennifer joins thousands of cannabis entrepreneurs and business leaders to network and hear from an incredible line-up of knowledgeable speakers.

MJBizCon is a great opportunity for our east-coast cannabis branding firm to catch up with industry professionals on the west coast. Jenn looks forward to meeting the masterminds behind some amazing nationwide brands and having face-to-face conversations about your branding needs and goals. If you'd like to schedule some time to chat with Jenn while she's in Las Vegas, send us an email at hi@brandjoint.com. She'd love to to discuss how to take your brand to the next level, stand apart on crowded shelves and gain loyal fans.

See you in Vegas! Follow us on Instagram and Twitter to keep up with us at the conference!

October 5, 2018Comments are off for this post.

An Open Letter to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission 

Just this week, news broke in our home state that the Maryland Medical Marijuana Commission has announced a proposal moving to restrict advertising and marketing efforts for cannabis growers, processors, independent testing labs, and dispensaries.

Below is an open letter to the Commission from Brand Joint's Founder and Creative Director, Jennifer Culpepper:

I am writing to the MMCC in response to the Commission's proposed regulations for advertising and marketing. The new regulations would prohibit radio, television, billboard and print advertising, as well as websites, apps, and social media that do not verify the user is 18 years or older. As the Founder & Creative Director of Brand Joint, a branding and design company working exclusively in the cannabis industry. Social media, marketing and advertising  is just a small aspect of what my company does.

I write not as someone who is concerned about the financial impact these regulations might have on my company, but as someone who believes that patients and the overall community deserve open communication from cannabis businesses. Social media platforms, such as Facebook & Instagram are one of the most convenient and accessible forms of communication medical cannabis patients have with their dispensaries, makers of their medicine, and their fellow community members. Within the last year, I have seen thousands of patients come together to form supportive groups on these platforms, thanks, in part, to engaged cannabis businesses.

Because there were no reasons provided for this sudden change, I can only guess at goal of these proposed regulations — to hide cannabis and its use in order to protect children, teens and the general public.

Common Sense Advertising & Minors 

It’s commendable that lawmakers want to ensure that children and teenagers do not have access to cannabis and are not influenced to try cannabis upon seeing creative marketing and advertising campaigns. We agree that content, advertisements and packaging should not contain anything attractive to children, such as cartoons, characters, popular phrases or references to candy. These regulations are widely embraced by programs across the country. However, by blanket banning advertising and marketing, we push Marylands' program into the dark and risk making legitimate businesses and prescribed medication relegated to the black market.

With responsible advertising and marketing practices, the cannabis community offers an opportunity for families to have important conversations with their children. As a mother of two school-aged children, I am quite familiar with approaching difficult topics. Just like any other prescription drug they may see advertised, I tell my children that cannabis is medicine only to be used by the intended patient under a doctor's supervision. One cannot purchase cannabis from a dispensary without qualifying and receiving a written certification from a registered physician.

Like any other substance, there will always be those who abuse cannabis. This should also be part of the conversation we have with our kids. As medical cannabis continues to gain support across the United States, we must take the responsibility to have conversations with our children as we would with any other substance intended for adults. By shielding information about cannabis and Maryland's medical program, we miss out on important teachable moments for our children.

Educating in the Community 

Dispensaries, growers, and processors utilize social media to advertise educational events that are beneficial to patients, as well as community members interested in learning more about medical cannabis. Advertising is crucial to community engagement. Without the use of social media and other forms of communication, our community would have no idea these events are taking place. More so, it threatens the potential dialogue and important relationships between businesses and the community.

Many scientists, doctors, patients, and cannabis advocates applaud the plant’s health benefits for a variety of ailments. Due to misinformation and debunked myths about marijuana, there is still a deep-rooted concern by some lawmakers and citizens that cannabis is a dangerous drug and a threat to our community. In response to those concerns, my team has helped organize several events for dispensaries and cannabis businesses, including town halls, veteran-focused gatherings, and "meet and greets" with respected industry professionals, doctors, and scientists. We always make sure to reach out to nearby businesses and neighborhoods to address community concerns. These events would not have been successful without the use of print advertising and social media. Quite simply, the ability to advertise is the ability to speak directly to our community.

Advertising and Marketing for Good 

This new policy, in my opinion, continues to stigmatize cannabis and cannabis consumers. Through social media, we have the ability to normalize medical cannabis use and create a supportive environment for patients. For Brand Joint and our clients, social media has become an important tool when it comes to educating the public about the cannabis plant, its medicinal benefits, history and culture. Our company was founded with the vision to make cannabis more accessible and approachable to a broader audience.

Through our work, we aim to break down negative stereotypes and remove the stigma that medical patients and adult-use consumers face. As states across the U.S. implement medical marijuana programs, its clear that the plant and its usefulness as an alternative to prescription drugs is being brought into the light. I believe that the proposed advertising regulations put our state's program two steps back and into the dark.

The state of Maryland has become one of the top 5 states with the highest rates of opioid-related deaths and since the 90’s, Maryland has continuously been above that national average of opioid deaths. According to research by JAMA in April of 2018, "State implementation of medical marijuana laws was associated with a 5.88% lower rate of opioid prescribing.”

With a health crisis in our very own state, I believe the ability for cannabis businesses to interact with their communities is key to addressing prescription drug abuse. I encourage the Commission to allow industry professionals to continue their efforts in educating and engaging with their patients and the community through social media platforms and advertising opportunities. I ask that you reconsider the proposed advertising and marketing regulations, so we can continue to bring our amazing medical cannabis program into the light.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Jennifer Culpepper
Brand Joint
Founder & Creative Director

 

October 3, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Deanna Segreti Joins Brand Joint!

We are excited to announce Brand Joint's newest team member, Deanna Segreti! Deanna’s role as Brand Joint's Office Manager ensures the office runs smoothly and our schedules stay organized. She’ll also be helping out with our Crabcakes & Cannabis orders, events and pop-up shop. Since joining our team, she has already streamlined several of our systems and has taught us the value of a good spreadsheet.

Deanna is currently attending Johnson and Wales University pursing a degree in Business Administration with a focus on Marketing. This multi-talented management wizard also has a background in computer science and a culinary degree. Prior to Brand Joint, she worked as a sous-chef at one of our favorite restaurants, Vin 909, and served as the Kitchen and Menu Manager at LaPrima. As much as we love her ability to keep our office running smoothly, we’re excited to taste her cooking (hint hint, Deanna)!

Deanna’s love for podcasts and scary books has already infiltrated the office, so a Brand Joint book club might be in order. We’re excited to have her around to keep us in line and are so thankful for her insane organization skills.

Welcome to Brand Joint, Deanna!

June 14, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Talking Terps in Downtown Annapolis

On Wednesday, June 13th, Brand Joint co-hosted an amazing event with the Maryland chapter of Women Grow in beautiful downtown Annapolis. Industry professionals, aspiring entrepreneurs, cannabis enthusiasts and medical patients gathered on the rooftop of Metropolitan to learn more about cannabis concentrates, terpenes and cannabinoids during the panel discussion, "Talking Terps with Prime Extracts."

Jennifer Culpepper, Brand Joint's Founder, led the conversation with two of our incredible clients, Reggie Alston of Prime Extracts and Dr. Chanda Macias and Michael Bobo of National Holistic Healing Center, as well as Philip Stripling of Steep Hill Maryland and DC.

Reggie, Prime's Founder, explained how his Maryland brand of refined cannabis concentrates are formulated to create a well-balanced experience for consumers. As a cell-biologist and dispensary owner, Dr. Chanda shared knowledge about ailment strain-alignment, and how certain strains and terpenes can benefit patients with certain illnesses and symptoms. Michael revealed his three favorite terpenes — Ocimene, Limonene and Myrcene — and demonstrated the various concentrate delivery methods. Phil then informed attendees about the Steep Hill Labs testing process and how patients can utilize test results to determine which strains are most beneficial for their needs.

The panel was extremely informative and attendees were able to ask any questions they had about cannabis concentrates and the differences between wax, shatter, and oil cartridges.

Crabcakes & Cannabis, a Maryland lifestyle brand created by Brand Joint, was also in attendance with a pop-up shop and raffle giveaways.

The venue was beautiful, the weather was great and the turnout was incredible! We are so thankful for the wealth of knowledge shared by our industry panel and we hope that attendees walked away more comfortable and informed about the benefits of cannabis concentrates.

February 7, 2018Comments are off for this post.

2018 WGLS Recap

Last week our Founder, Jennifer Culpepper, attended the 2018 Women Grow Leadership Summit in Denver, Colorado. Once a year, cannabis industry women gather to network, inspire one another and share industry insight. Over the course of three days, Jenn met with incredible women (and men) passionate about their cannabis careers and the growth of our amazing industry. In addition to attending several networking events and Breakout Sessions, Jenn sat on two educational panels and held her own Lightning Talk on the big stage.

In her Lightning Talk, "Connecting to Your Authentic Brand," Jenn revealed that when a brand is true to its values and the passions of the people behind the brand — that's how it becomes authentic and successful. As the Brand Joint team developed the messaging for this year's Summit, she explained her role as a brand strategist and designer. She can confidently define and build a brand for a business or organization, but it's up to the organization to LIVE that brand authentically. She invited the audience to inspire change, disrupt business as usual, and create the industry that we want it to be.

 

On Friday, Jenn joined panelists Dasheeda Dawson, Morgan Noble and Felicia Davis for their Breakout Session, "Big Brand Insights to Guide Your Cannabusiness Marketing." During the panel discussion, they discussed the unique challenges entrepreneurs face in the cannabis industry, especially in regards to digital marketing and branding. Later that day, she joined another panel talking about parenting and cannabis. This lively discussion brought up many important topics, including advocacy for sick children, the stigma of adult-use, and the challenges of speaking to children about cannabis use and its legality.

Jenn with Dr. Chanda Macias, the new Chairwoman of Women Grow!

Jenn met a lot of incredible women this year, including the Sisters of the Valley

We are thankful to have been such a big part of creating the messaging and theme for this year's Women Grow Leadership Summit. We feel more enthusiastic than ever about our opportunity to shape the industry's culture and we are determined to help make our community of entrepreneurs more inclusive, diverse and open-minded.

September 28, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Branding Pennsylvania Dispensaries

Brand Joint is headed to Philly! Our Creative Director, Jennifer Culpepper will be the Featured Speaker at the Women Grow: Philadelphia Networking Event on October 5th. With 52 dispensaries opening in the Keystone State in 2018, having a well-designed dispensary brand is more important than ever. If the industry as a whole makes an effort to become more accessible and approachable to a broader audience, dispensaries will become more easily accepted by their communities. 

A well-branded dispensary experience requires more than putting a logo on the wall, your products and apparel — it's the total sum of all the little details. Design details inside the dispensary like the music playing in the waiting room, the art on the walls, staff uniforms and product packaging must be consistent with the exterior design elements, such as your like website and 
social media presence. Together, these details create an overall brand experience that leaves patients with a positive lasting impression.
 
Jenn will explain how dispensary owners can create a loyal following by finding their key differentiators, determining the proper target audience and designing a memorable retail experience. Don't miss out — get your tickets here

September 1, 2017Comments are off for this post.

How to Avoid the Cannabis Social Media Shutdown

Like most other industries, having an active social media following is key to a successful and well-known cannabusiness marketing strategy. Unlike other industries, however, cannabis accounts seem to be getting shut down left and right. We've all heard the horror stories of dispensaries and other cannabis-centric companies suddenly seeing their Facebook pages removed, along with thousands of hard-earned followers. Reading the fine print and following platform guidelines are the first steps to decreasing the odds of your social media nightmare. Don't have time for sifting through all the rules and regulations? Don't worry, we've got you covered:

Instagram

Instagram has yet to clarify what its cannabis policy actually is, leaving cannabis companies frustrated and confused. Just recently, The Lift Cannabis, a review site for medical cannabis strains woke up to find their Instagram account was deactivated, losing 11,000 followers with it. This came days before an event the company was sponsoring — the Lift Cannabis Expo in Vancouver. When pressed for comment on the issue, Instagram responded in regards to their Community Guidelines:

"Offering sexual services, buying or selling firearms and illegal or prescription drugs (even if it's legal in your region) is also not allowed. Remember to always follow the law when offering to sell or buy other regulated goods."

While we don't have fool-proof advice to keep your Instagram account safe, there are some images that would be best to avoid: smoking, advertising sales/specials, paraphernalia, etc. Posting images of products or strains your dispensary offers could go either way. It’s a toss-up if your account will get reported or deactivated, so until then, make sure the images you post fall in line with your brand. If you claim your product line is high-end, keep it classy and don't post images of "weed babes" or memes of "typical stoner" culture. Social media platforms are an extension of your brand and should be used intentionally.

Twitter

Twitter is increasingly becoming the "go-to" source for instant news updates for any interest and category. For the cannabis industry in particular, the platform enables brands to share valuable data, information regarding the industry, new laws and regulations, etc. When it comes to cannabis-related content, Twitter is quite friendly, though a bit vague. According to their policy,

"We believe that everyone should have the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers. In order to protect the experience and safety of people who use Twitter, there are some limitations on the type of content and behavior that we allow."

When it comes to paid advertising, Twitter will blocks ads for cannabis-smoking products, but allows ads that promote news and information about cannabis. That being said, tweeting about your dispensary products and upcoming events is perfectly fine, just don't pay to promote your tweets or business!

Facebook

Facebook is perhaps the most strict when it comes to sharing cannabis-related content. While news articles and blogs are seemingly appropriate, images of paraphernalia, cannabis plants, flowers and products might get you in trouble. When you share articles on Facebook, changing the thumbnail image to a "less-controversial," yet story-related visual can save you the possibility of a deleted account.

Facebook's user policy also bans content that promotes marijuana sales, even in states where it's legal. The platform does allow marijuana advocacy and education pages, as long as they don't promote sales. So what does that mean for promoting your dispensary's products? Don't pay for ads on Facebook. According to their policy:

"Ads must not promote the sale or use of illegal, prescription or recreational drugs."

If you're promoting a sale on a particular strain or discount for a group of patients, you're technically violating Facebook's policy. Therefore, it's best to announce and specials or promotions via an email newsletter instead of your Facebook business page.

 

 

Be Prepared

With cannabis illegal at the federal level, it's inevitable that some accounts will get taken down. In the event that your cannabusiness social media account does get shut down, it's best to be prepared. Collect email addresses! Make sure to have a newsletter opt-in on your website and ask your followers to sign up. You should also have a way for patients to opt-in for newsletters when they visit the dispensary. In addition to sharing updates about your business, stories relevant to the industry, an email newsletter is the perfect place to advertise sales and specials you may be running. 

As Facebook and Instagram often shut down dispensary accounts without notice, having an email mailing list is crucial to keeping your contacts and audience within reach and rebuilding your accounts when/if they get removed.

 

August 17, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Maryland is Officially Growing!

Our home state is officially growing...medical cannabis, that is! This past Monday, the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission approved 8 Growers and 4 Processors for licenses. The awarded licenses come after years of setbacks and delays since medical cannabis became legalized in 2013. Brand Joint celebrates with Maryland's 12,000 registered patients, knowing that quality medicine will soon be available at 102 dispensaries this fall.

The list of licensed medical cannabis firms are listed below:

Licensed Growers

  • Curio Cultivation LLC (Baltimore County)
  • ForwardGro LLC (Anne Arundel County)
  • Freestate Wellness LLC (Howard County)
  • Green Leaf Medical LLC (Frederick County)
  • Harvest of Maryland LLC (Washington County)
  • HMS Health LLC (Frederick County)
  • Holistic Industries Inc. LLC (Prince George’s County)
  • Maryland Compassionate Care and Wellness LLC
    (dba as Grass Roots) (Carroll County)
  • emescal Wellness LLC (Baltimore City)

Licensed Processors

  • Blair Wellness LLC (Worcester County)
  • Curio Wellness LLC (Baltimore County)
  • Holistic Industries, INC. LLC (Prince George’s County)
  • Maryland Compassionate Care and Wellness LLC
    dba as Grass Roots) (Carroll County)

Licensed Dispensaries

  • Wellness Institute of Maryland

June 14, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Patient & Public Education Matters

It's easy to roll your eyes at a friend or family member who recites a “fact” about cannabis use that sounds eerily similar to a quote from Reefer Madness. Now, more than ever, cannabis entrepreneurs and enthusiasts must make a conscious effort to educate the public about cannabis use and users.

Read more

May 24, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Marijuana Business Daily Conference

On May 17th-19th, the Brand Joint team attended the Marijuana Business Spring Conference and Expo at the Gaylord National Harbor Resort and Conference Center. Over a course of three days, cannabis entrepreneurs and business leaders gathered in Washington, D.C. to network and gain industry insight from speakers on a wide variety of topics. It was great to meet up with some of our wonderful business friends and partners that we have been in contact with over the last year!

MJBiz Con continues to be one of the most professional, knowledgable and well-attended conferences in the cannabis industry. As we walked the Expo floor, it was exciting to see the amount of businesses dedicated to this booming industry. With over 500 exhibitors, there was plenty to see and much to learn — everything from lights and soil to products, packaging and consulting firms. We look forward to developing and designing some incredible brands and can't wait to attend the next Marijuana Business Daily Conference and Expo!