Birth of a Brand

Updated: Mar 10, 2021

I was recently hired by the proprietor of a startup shatter brand to write a postcard to accompany samples bound for retail. I didn’t have much to go on aside from the name of the product -- Orange Fuzz -- so I started asking questions.

What is special about this particular extract? Why should a dabbing enthusiast buy it instead of a competing brand? Where is it sourced? Who made it? Why is it called “Orange Fuzz?” Is Orange Fuzz a woman-owned brand?

Answering these questions was the first concrete step my client had taken toward what’s called verbal branding. She had already gotten into visual branding with a logo -- a stylized fox (foxes are orange and fuzzy). But she and her partner had not yet explored their brand language.

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

As a brand storyteller, my job is to collaborate with clients on a “discovery” process, which I consider more of a 19th-century Northern California mining operation. The client is a river full of gold. I’m the prospector panning for it. The client’s responses to my questions are nuggets of gold I pull from the riverbed. I use these to divine brand “pillars” and shape brand language. I then polish that language into gold currency -- in this case the words that appear on the postcard.

When I asked about sourcing, I discovered that Orange Fuzz is made from cannabis grown in Humboldt County, California. As Champagne (the province in northeast France) is to champagne (the delicious beverage), Humboldt County is to cannabis. In fact, like champagne, it may soon have its own “appellation of origin.” Humboldt County: Brand Pillar #1.

The Humboldt County farmers who grow this cannabis are committed to sustainable, “regenerative” practices, and their crop is “sun-grown” to organic standards using only premium nutrient blends. Sustainable growing techniques: Brand Pillar #2. Masterful Extraction as Brand Equity The cannabis is processed by a master extractor -- in some circles these folks are known as extraction “artists” -- also working in Humboldt County. He produces Orange Fuzz in small batches using full “nugs,” short for “nuggets.” According to the Weed Reader, “Users report better flavor from extracts made with full marijuana nugs … If you’re a regular user of concentrates you’ll be able to tell the difference between trim run and nug run.”

Because Orange Fuzz is derived from full nugs, it maintains its natural terpene profile, which imparts a distinctive flavor, aroma and effect. This means the master extractor does not add terpenes to create character after the fact, a convention favored by producers focused on cost-cutting (it’s much cheaper to add what are called botanical terpenes than to extract terpenes from cannabis). Artisanal production: Brand Pillar #3.

Craft Shatter What all this adds up to is a product created in small batches from cannabis grown sustainably in Humboldt County by an independent artisan who prizes quality above all -- in other words, “craft” shatter, an offshoot of “craft cannabis,” a movement that’s sweeping the nation just as craft beer has. The name Orange Fuzz, meanwhile, is a reference to a part of the female cannabis plant’s anatomy, which ties into the idea of a woman-owned brand. A woman-owned shatter brand is a rarity in the cannabis marketplace, yet women are increasingly consumers of shatter and other “dabbable” cannabis extracts. Woman-owned: Brand Pillar #4. Once I determined that Orange Fuzz is a craft-shatter product, I understood that we needed to target the craft-shatter consumer -- motivated by quality, better educated than the average cannabis consumer, with more disposable income, more likely to be concerned with issues of sustainability, and more and more female. From this insight came the following:

My client is working with a graphic designer on the visual messaging for this piece of print collateral but in the meantime has been able to repurpose what I wrote for a landing page and investor deck. I asked, she answered and thus a brand was born.

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