July 5, 2022

Being Authentically Outrageous

Throughout my career, I’ve had a lot of favorite clients and projects. However, dancing down the historic streets of Annapolis to Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It” behind a GIANT smoking joint at the Pride Parade was definitely a highlight!

Many have asked what possessed us to build a 12-foot joint for the Pride parade. That’s a fair question. It comes down to being a little outrageous (on purpose) and knowing when and how to push the envelope in a way that benefits and strengthens a brand's identity. 

The lifestyle apparel company, Crabcakes & Cannabis® was conceived with a simple mission to spread joy and create community among Marylanders who share a love of Cannabis. It’s a company with a fun-spirited identity that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is unapologetic in its pursuit to find and enhance the joy in life. 

Getting to this point of having a clear and concise brand identity is a process— and one that should be prioritized. When developing a brand, our goal is to understand its personality clearly enough to determine what that brand might say in a situation, what it would do, and how it would act. When a customer can relate a brand to a distinct personality, it becomes easier for them to identify with the brand, ultimately creating brand recognition and loyalty (the ultimate goal in marketing). 

At Brand Joint, we believe in pushing the creative boundaries as long as it’s done in an authentic way that considers the brand’s personality first and foremost. So when Crabcakes & Cannabis® signed up to participate in the Annapolis Pride Parade, we knew we were going to approach the project in a wildly outrageous way to make people laugh—aligning with the company’s mission of spreading joy. 

In today’s overstimulated world, it’s become more challenging to break through the noise in ways that feel authentic to a brand’s personality. Consider how valuable it is to strengthen a company’s personality through actions, not just words. But, what you should never do is be outrageous just for the sake of getting attention. It has to be done strategically to benefit the brand. 

Once you identify an opportunity to be strategically outrageous, don't let the fear of offending some people deter you. Be smart about it, but be bold. By having a clear understanding of your audience, you can trust that the right people, the people you want to reach, will appreciate what you’re putting out there. It’s with this mentality that we set out to build a 12-foot joint for the Crabcakes & Cannabis® Pride parade float. 

As brand designers, this amazingly successful project affirmed our belief that as long as we remain true and authentic to a brand, we have the creative freedom to take risks and be a little outrageous. This message rings especially true at the Pride Parade: Disregard the haters and proudly be authentically you!

We started with a freehand sketch of Buddy on a rainbow joint, and after a couple of logistical meetings, we had a loose plan that was largely led by our team’s enthusiasm.
What we built was even better than we expected, and the day of the parade was an absolute blast. We joined like-minded individuals to show our support of both cannabis legalization and LGBTQ+ issues while proudly walking/dancing in the Pride parade. 

February 4, 2020

Now Hiring: Web Designer

Brand Joint is seeking a web design and multi-media superstar to join our award-winning team. Brand Joint specializes in designing products and brands for innovative Cannabis and Hemp clients. We are a team of creative thinkers, meme lovers, and problem solvers and are looking for someone who shares the same passions we do. We draw on the walls, discuss the newest podcasts, and share inspiration daily. If this sounds like a good fit for you, keep on reading!

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • A positive attitude, lust for learning, excitement for new challenges, and top-notch problem-solving skills
  • Creativity and strong conceptual problem solving or wild creativity and the ability to turn strong concepts into real-life solutions
  • Strong design, layout, and typography skills are a MUST
  • You're confident in coding, customization, and front-end development.
  • Excellent project planning, organization and time management skills— deadlines are crucial and fast-paced!
  • Ability to collaborate with other team members on projects
  • Current with all trends of web design + development, UI/UX, and online/SEO optimization best practices and technologies

BONUS SKILLS: As we are a small agency, we all wear a lot of hats! If you have capabilities beyond web design, that’s a HUGE plus!

  • Proficiency in Photoshop, Illustrator and other Adobe CS design software
  • Ability to design in other mediums like logos and packaging
  • Photography or illustration skills
  • Video editing capabilities 
  • Social networking strategies

RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Create concepts, sitemaps/wireframes, and designs that deliver a compelling user experience, drive user behavior, and communicate key ideas
  • Build and optimize web pages, email templates, and other digital marketing using expert-level HTML and CSS
  • Administer and maintain in-house and client web needs (websites, e-blasts, and various experiments)
  • Contribute ideas and solutions for brand strategy and marketing campaigns at team meetings
  • Assist on other design and creative projects including print, logos, and packaging, as needed

REQUIREMENTS:

  • 2+ years of relevant experience as a Web Designer/Developer is mandatory to be considered.
  • Strong graphic design skills and a high degree of skill with Adobe Creative Suite applications.
  • Must have strong knowledge of UX/UI principles and a deep understanding of HTML, CSS, some Javascript, and Content Management Systems (WordPress, Webflow, Drupal)
  • Experience with implementing integration features from third-party sites and services.

NEXT STEPS: Email your resume and a few lines on why you think you’d be a good fit to talent@brandjoint.com This position will begin as freelance or project-based with potential to go full-time if the fit is right. Salary or rates are dependent on experience.

December 12, 2019

Creating Brand Experiences That Surprise and Delight

Think of a time when you had an incredible experience with a brand. Perhaps the product shocked and inspired you with its ease-of-use, or a service blew you away with its personalization and concern for you as an individual customer. You probably told your like-minded friends about this experience, recommended the company to family members, and you found yourself becoming a loyalist.  It feels good to promote a brand you love, doesn’t it?

As a business owner, you can leverage this phenomenon to work in your brand’s favor. Nowadays, people favor experiences over products. By taking the time to craft memorable and personalized brand experiences, you will find faithful customers, improve your reputation, and solidify a premium spot at the top of your target customer’s mind.

Understand Your Customers:

The first step to getting to know your customers is by building customer personas. Not sure where to start? Follow our guide to creating these personas and segmenting your target psychographics. Then, brainstorm ways to research these customers. Perhaps you could conduct a targeted survey or host a focus group. (A word to the wise: don’t host a focus group for feedback on your ideas. Host the focus group with the intention of fully understanding your customers before any brainstorming— that way, you can start from the right place). Research and work to understand the things that fascinate and delight your target customers. Maybe they are intrigued by displays of sustainability or quips of wisdom. Each market is unique.

Start Brainstorming:

Now that you have a clearer picture of your target customers, you can start brainstorming. Brand experiences come in many forms. Technically, a brand experience is shaped by every interaction a customer has with your brand. These interactions, whether major or minor,  are called ‘touchpoints’. These experiences include your:

 - Marketing

 - Content

 - Product packaging

 - Branding and design

 - Product features

 - Events

 - Brand Voice

 - Customer service

Smaller interactions might include the way your employees answer the phone, the UI design of your digital touch points, or the outfits worn by your employees.

Every effort should be made to maintain a consistent voice, tone, and style across all of these channels while ensuring that your audience feels recognized and personally acknowledged at each step.

Don’t forget to take the words ‘surprise’ and ‘delight’ to heart. It’s not time to play it safe. Subtle touches are welcome, but the goal of this process is to disrupt the status quo and draw attention to your business. An easy and ethical win in today’s market is to create packaging that is eco-friendly, user-focused, and easy to discard sustainably. Another is to create innovative experiences that are easily shareable via social media. For example, Red Bull’s “Space Jump” stunt engaged with over 7 million social media users.

Find ways to take your brand out into the real world and show people the value that your brand could offer the community. Plan events or creative marketing stunts that will draw in your target audience and establish brand allegiance. Follow this simple and proven formula to create modern campaigns that succeed: Do > Invite > Document > Share. Pull off the stunt, invite others to participate either in person or online, document the stunt or event, and share the results.

Brand experiences that surprise and delight are hard to come by, but by following these steps and investing the time and effort necessary to get creative in the process, it is possible to create innovative experiences that capture the attention of the market and help skyrocket your business. All it takes is one well-executed great idea.

November 14, 2019

Humanizing your Consumer: A Guide to Psychographics

Consumers aren’t just their age, race, gender, or location. While this may seem obvious, many brands don’t consider other aspects of their customers’ lives when planning their marketing. Consumers are more than numbers and statistics— they are humans with goals and unique interests. Marketers use the term psychographics rather than traditional demographics to describe this category of data. At Brand Joint, we prefer to use the term ‘humans’ rather than ‘consumers’ or ‘psychographics’ to remind ourselves that we are interacting with real people that have unique life stories, not just shoppers.

Taking the time to thoroughly outline target psychographics, typically in the form of customer personas (sometimes called buyer profiles), can help exponentially grow your business and build brand awareness. Customer personas can be pretend ‘demo’ outlines of your target customers, or you can research your market and gather real data. Understanding your humans at a personal level will help you find them, connect with them, and create brand experiences that surprise and delightThere are several aspects to consider when shaping your target psychographics. Below, you'll find a step-by-step plan to creating your customer personas.

1. Start with Demographics

Although demographics should not be your only resource, people have needs specific to their age, gender, salary, location, and other factors. Start by outlining:

  • Age: Knowing the age of your customer will shape the voice of your brand and provide direction as to which marketing channels the target audience uses most. For example, Millennials tend to use Instagram and Twitter, while Baby Boomers use Facebook.
  • Location: Does your target customer live in a small town or a big city? How does this affect their spending habits, daily needs, and world views?
  • Gender: Men, women, and all other sexes/gender identities each have unique life experiences, pain points, social expectations, behaviors, and more. How do these traits affect the way the might interpret your brand
  • Education Level: The language and tone that you use in your marketing can attract or alienate your audience. For example, overly-scientific writing might make it difficult for your target audience to understand you. Education level can also be considered from another angle: if your target market is college students, then writing to a middle-aged crowd will miss the mark.
  • Occupation: Assuming that your product is aimed at a particular lifestyle or career choice, knowing your customer’s exact role will help you refine your offerings and marketing choices.
  • Annual Income: Knowing your customer’s annual income will help you price your products and services appropriately.

2. Visualize Your Human

Find a stock photo to represent your psychographic. Doing this will help humanize them in your mind and will make the rest of the process flow authentically.  Sometimes we use celebrities to clarify the personality in our minds.

3. Goals & Objectives

Your business should be offering goods and services that help these target humans reach their goals. If your company is in the cannabis space, let’s say one of your target consumers aspires to have more control over their healthcare. How can you enhance your product and brand experience to help them reach this goal? How can your marketing emphasize this benefit?

4. Interests

Becoming familiar with your target customers’ interests is key to connecting with them. For example, rock climbers could benefit from hemp creams for their calloused hands, while musicians might buy a specific strain/brand of cannabis if it promotes musical creativity.

5. Values

What does this target customer value? Sustainability? Quality over frugality? Philanthropy? Activism? Brainstorm ways that your brand values could align with and support your customers’ values. People love to support companies that authentically share their values.

6. Media/Trusted Sources

What media and devices would your customers be using when they discover your brand? Are they older medical patients who get their news from only the newspaper, or are they younger customers who will find out about your brand on a mobile app? Next, consider what sources they trust. Are they CNN aficionados, or do they frequent technology-focused online magazines? Perhaps they follow fashion blogs? Understanding where your customers already devote their time and attention enables you to meet them there with appropriate and relatable marketing.

7. Pain Points

Pain points are the mother of innovation. They are areas or moments of your customer’s life that inconvenience, disable, or cause harm. Most innovative products and services were created to ease or erase these pain points. These pesky points sometimes go relatively unnoticed (getting deodorant on your shirt, anyone?), but the odds are that your human has specific major and minor pain points that might never occur to you. So, interview them and find out what bothers them. You will be surprised at the number of opportunities for invention and innovation that arise, especially in the cannabis and hemp product fields.

Once you’ve completed one customer persona, do two or three more. It’s likely that your niche, no matter how specific, has a few different psychographics involved. Research them, talk with them, and take the time to brainstorm the best ways to reach these customers and solve their woes. They’ll love you for it.

November 6, 2019

4 Steps to Clarifying Your Brand Vision

Odds are that you started your business with a specific goal in mind. Whether your mission is general or specific, articulating it and expressing it to the market-space is vital to growing your brand. Having a clear vision for your brand helps guide innovation, marketing, corporate culture, and overall brand reputation. A strong brand vision will help your business find its place in the community and set measurable goals for the brand's progress toward the vision. Although establishing your brand vision is a big deal, the process of discovering it can be made simple. In four easy steps, you can learn how to clarify your brand vision.

1) Imagine a world where your work is complete. It's time to close up shop because there's just nothing left for your brand to do. What would that look like for your business? A brand vision should be long-term but eventually attainable, with clear milestones along the way. It should inspire you, your team, and your customers on a daily basis while giving your business a sense of purpose. I+I Botanicals, for example, is a CBD skincare brand that designs products that are Good for the Body, Good for the Earth, and Good for the Soul. The two founders envisioned a world where everyone, especially women, implement moments of self-care and self-love into their routines every single day. Take a look at a few other examples below:

  • We envision a world where people can access affordable and customized healthcare.
  • We envision a world filled with creative expression, where every child has access to opportunities in the arts.
  • We envision an inclusive downtown area where everyone feels that they belong.
  • We envision a world where being sustainable is easier.

2) Next, outline the steps to creating this optimal world. These can be broad strokes. For example, shaping an inclusive downtown area would require adding accessibility options, supporting more diverse restaurants, and funding community events. Then, find places for your brand to fit into these steps. Perhaps your service was initially intended only to support diverse restaurants, but you could also organize community events targeted toward youths. Doing so would further your overall vision and establish your brand as a force of good in the community. As you can see, there are both big and small ways to progress your brand vision in both local and global arenas.

3) Write your origin story and include your vision. Why did you establish your business? What was the lightbulb moment that started it all? Craft a concise paragraph that weaves an almost-mythological tale about the origin of your company. Use this opportunity to flesh out your brand's voice and tone while informing the general public and your customers of your vision and values.

4) Start brainstorming vision-friendly ways to improve your product, target new markets, and innovate your advertising. Every step you take during the process of establishing and exploring your brand should reveal opportunities for innovation and on-brand expansion.

We hope these steps help you progress in shaping your brand vision. If you need some help, feel free to give us a call or send us an email. We’ll be happy to assist you.

October 22, 2019

Why Brand Values Matter

Let’s talk about Apple. Assuming you’ve dealt with them in some capacity (as most people have at some point), I bet you could list three of their brand values off the top of your head. By interacting with the Genius Bar, you can tell that they value high-quality and accessible customer service. When using their products, you recognize their value of user-friendliness as it shines through each aspect of the interface. When visiting an Apple store, their values of simplicity and minimalism are apparent.

All of these values join together to form a cohesive and memorable brand personality. Apple is an excellent example of how brand values are integral to creating memorable brand experiences.

Defining your brand values is an essential step in branding your business. These noble signposts serve to guide you along your entrepreneurial path and imbue your business with structure and strategy.

Brand values are typically comprised of those that align with you and your customer's. For example, a brand of vegan granola bars for hikers might value sustainability, durability, and health. A board games brand might value togetherness, quality time, and clever thinking. Make sure you differentiate your brand by setting values that are unique and specific. Plenty of brands value customer service and quality products. What separates your business from the crowd?

We recommend that you take some time and reflect on some of your own values as well as your ideal customer’s values. Consider how you might combine them into steadfast values for your brand. When you discover and establish your brand values, magic ensues:

 Values Spark Innovation

Apple didn’t just end up with a cohesive brand experience by accident. They set their values first and then allowed each value to guide their design, product development, architectural, and customer service decisions. Let’s apply this practice: How could a snack company make their vegan bar even healthier and more eco-friendly? What sort of event could a board game company host that would show the public its values of togetherness and quality time? The opportunities are endless.

Brand Values Are a Rallying Cry For Customers

Values give your customers something in which to believe. When your values align with their own, they will become brand evangelists, sharing your brand with friends and family, fighting for your success. They will fight for your success.

 You Build Better Teams

Countless organizations have fallen apart because each member of the board had a different idea of what the priorities were. Establishing clear values for your business allows you to attract and hire executives and employees that share your vision and will confidently make on-brand decisions. Businesses grow when everyone is on the same page.

 You Earn Trust

Values, when adhered to, help build consumer trust in your company. If you hold steadfast to your values, the public will recognize and reward you for it. Charm City Medicus, a medical cannabis dispensary in Baltimore, Maryland made a commitment to healing veterans struggling with PTSD and chronic pain. This commitment is a value that is engrained throughout their entire brand experience. For example, they were the first dispensary in the state to implement a 22% discount for veterans and former military to represent the estimated 22 veterans that commit suicide every day. Additionally, to earn trust with the local community prior to its grand opening, CCM held a a free, educational event on Veteran's Day to inform potential patients about the benefits of medical cannabis.

When brands do something off-brand (for example, if the aforementioned granola bar brand introduced unsustainable practices to their supply chain), they can appear unpredictable, unreliable, and inauthentic. This is another reason why consistent brand presentation is highly important.

You Make Decisions That Propel Your Business

Strong values can guide your decision-making process. Values are abstract and can apply in almost any situation. Deeply ingrained values make each choice, whether small or big, an easy judgment.

Brand values play a crucial role in the success of any business. They ignite innovation, attract loyal customers, and enable you to grow your business while maintaining a consistent and impactful brand. Feeling stuck setting your values? Feel free to reach out to us for some help!

September 16, 2019

Brand Joint Now Hiring Experienced Web Designer

Our Annapolis-based cannabis branding and design studio is hiring! This time, we’re looking for a Freelance Web Designer & Front-End Developer to join Brand Joint and our sister company, Peppermill Projects. We’re searching for an intelligent, creative, coding wizard who wants to grow with us and design beautiful websites for our cannabis and CBD clients.

WHO YOU ARE: You are an experienced creative, have a passion for design are extremely detail-oriented. You earned your Bachelor's degree in design, visual arts or a related field, have a strong work ethic, an obsessive attention to detail and have an impressive portfolio to show for it. You're a problem solver and have a quest for learning and improving your design skills.

Your skills include:

  • Adobe CS
  • UX/UI
  • Technical understanding and experience with HTML, CSS, and web publishing
  • Excellent understanding of design principals, usability, grid systems, typography, and SEO principals
  • Wireframes
  • Front-end web development knowledge (preferably WordPress or Webflow)
  • Site Design & Prototyping for client presentations (Adobe XD, Invision, Sketch)
  • Dropbox organization
  • Motion Graphics, Video Editing, and Interactive skills a plus

WHAT YOU NEED: A positive can-do attitude, mind-blowing time management skills, an ability to work in a fast-paced, collaborative environment and a penchant for taking ownership of client projects.

NEXT STEPS: Email your resume, a few lines on “Why You Should Hire Me,” and the name of your favorite podcast to hi@brandjoint.com. Please include your salary expectations as well as a link to your online portfolio. This is a freelance position with the opportunity to transition to a full-time employee.

September 11, 2019

New York Fashion Week Checked Off the Brand Joint Bucket List

It was an exciting weekend in New York City for the Brand Joint team! In case you missed it, Brand Joint and I+I Botanicals, our line of CBD-infused skincare products, sponsored an historic runway collaboration for New York Fashion Week. Women Grow teamed up with Project Runway star, Korto Momolu to create "High Fashion Meets the World of Cannabis," a collection of largely hemp-based designs incorporating aspects of health and wellness. The event was created for women, by women to showcase the immense talent and creativity women bring to both the cannabis and fashion industries.

Korto's stunning collection included 26 unique looks incorporating hemp, jute, linen, cork, and other sustainable fabrics, as well as custom-made cannabis-themed jewelry and accessories from Metal & Canvas and Genifer M Jewelry. Models of all shapes, sizes, races, and ethnicities walked the runway, some using custom-designed TribeTokes pens to change the perception of cannabis consumption.

The show's VIP gift bags included I+I Botanical's pocket-sized CBD-infused Dry Body Oil, and before the show, I+I products were seen backstage. Models prepped with I+I's rejuvenating, anti-aging face serum and the moisturizing dry body oil to get runway ready. You can learn more about I+I products here!

At the after party held at Chelsea Music Hall, attendees danced the night away and stopped to snap photos with the inspiring women behind the event, Korto Momolu and Dr. Chanda Macias, CEO and Chairwoman of the Board for Women Grow. After weeks of hard work, Brand Joint and I+I teams had a blast celebrating a successful event and we are proud to have developed the brand strategy and design for this amazing collaboration. Congratulations to Women Grow and Korto Momolu on making herstory!

I+I Botanicals' Co-Founders: Selam Kelati, Dr. Chanda Macias, & Jennifer Culpepper

August 30, 2019

Brand Joint Heads to New York Fashion Week!

We are thrilled to announce an exciting project that we've been working on this summer — Brand Joint team has teamed up with Women Grow and Korto Momolu, the renowned fashion designer known for her bold designs on season 5 of Project Runway to brand a historical event during New York Fashion Week!

“High Fashion Meets the World of Cannabis" bridges the cannabis and fashion industries to bring awareness to the power of women in hemp and cannabis. Momolu will debut a fashion collection Saturday, September 7th at Chelsea Piers (Pier 59 Studios) in New York City that embodies the power, influence, and strength of women leadership. Her collection of largely hemp-based designs will incorporate aspects of health and wellness and showcase the immense talent and creativity women bring to both the cannabis and fashion industries.

Brand Joint and I+I Botanicals, our own brand of CBD-infused self care products are proud to sponsor this event curated and executed for women, by women. Our design team worked with Women Grow and Momolu to develop the overall brand strategy for the event and its marketing and promotion, ensuring each and every aspect of the show has a consistent look and feel. Additionally, an animated Times Square billboard will run for three days during rush hour!

For more information about the event and to purchase tickets, click here. See you in NYC!

August 6, 2019

Seed: Tips from Dispensary Design Experts with Jennifer Culpepper

We are excited to announce that Seed, the cannabis industry educational platform has featured our Founder and Chief Creative, Jennifer Culpepper in Part 1 of their 3 Part series, "Tips From Design Industry Experts." Seed was developed to provide dispensaries with an advanced tool to enhance the buying experience for their customers, support their staff, and sell more product.

Seed asked some of the top designed in the industry about the importance of strong branding in design in cannabis retail space. Jenn was happy to share her insight and experience working with cannabis and hemp clients across the United States:

"I don’t usually live by design “do’s and don’ts” because I think all rules can be broken if done intentionally and thoughtfully. That being said, I try to avoid anything that’s super popular or cliché, because it’s hard to differentiate your brand from others if they are all following similar trends. As designers, we tend to pull from our past experiences for inspiration. With the internet at our fingertips, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and swept up in trends. I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay true to your brand and your dispensary — not follow what you’ve seen other brands doing."

Jennifer Culpepper

Read the article in its entirety here!

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