The changing nature of cannabis branding

As cannabis laws continue to relax in North America, we talk to three founders about how branding and creative direction are baked into the process of changing perceptions of the category

“Superette was a reflection of how we saw retail, and what we thought retail can look like in cannabis,” says Drummond Munro, the co-founder and chief brand officer of the Canadian cannabis brand.

Superette was founded in 2018, the same year recreational cannabis was federally legalised in Canada, and right around the time Ontario switched from a public model involving government-run stores, to a private one, opening up the playing field for retail brands. It has six stores and counting across Toronto and Ottowa, and is set to expand into the US in 2022 where recreational cannabis is currently legal in 18 states.

When the changes were on the horizon in Canada, Munro explains that people were rushing to set up infrastructure to grow the product, but not necessarily thinking about how to market it. “When it became federally legal and a brand new industry, no one really thought about it as retail or CPG. They thought about it like cannabis, and therefore a lot of basic retail principles that we’ve seen over the last 25 years – from merchandising to the customer journey to product curation to design – were all left out of the equation.”

With its playful stores and strong branding, Superette was, he explains, an opportunity to do something different in the cannabis space, which hasn’t exactly been known for pushing the boundaries of design.