Union Six is an Oklahoma-based distribution company. Formerly known as “Green Wholesale Distributors,” Union Six came to us with a vision for the future of distribution. They were tired of the lack of access cannabis companies had to connect with each other. The only solutions in the market were either too expensive or favored established multistate operators. They wanted to figure out how to level the playing field with an online marketplace and a distribution fleet that serviced the entire state. We helped them build a brand, strategize their approach, and set things in motion.
After a series of discovery and strategy meetings, we decided to start from the beginning of our process – branding. Fortunately, Oklahoma lacked well-branded distribution companies. The heavy hitters in the industry had a stronghold on the market. Still, they lacked a solid digital presence and a memorable brand.
We started by understanding the market. Then, we identified our primary target audience, business development managers at cultivations and processors, and purchasing managers at dispensaries. There was a lot of overlap in the demographics, so we only needed to create one avatar.
Next, we crafted a brand DNA to appeal to the cannabis industry of Oklahoma. We knew our audience was made of locals who were tired of seeing out-of-state brands dominate the market. So we made our central values community, accessibility, and transparency.
Every brand starts with an archetype – a base of values and ideals you base your personality on.
We chose a mixture of The Outlaw and The Hero. The Hartford does a great job of breaking down the 12 archetypes in this article.
Here is a quick glance at our promise, mission, and vision, AKA our what, how, and long-term vision.
This is what we promise to achieve with our brand’s existence.
Connect the six corners of Oklahoma’s cannabis market.
The mission is what we do to achieve our vision.
Provide a platform for Oklahoma-owned cannabis businesses to grow.
Our wildest dreams coming true.
Get a unique portfolio of local products on the shelves of dispensaries all over the state.
The brand strategy also covered our core values, our brand pillars, and much more.
Naming The Brand
We studied our audience, built a personality they can love and respect, and crafted the name. The name is the “Cherry-on-top” of the branding process. It ties together the brand personality you created and acts as a catchy reminder for your brand.
When the Union Six team first reached out to us, their name was Green Wholesale Distributors.
Oklahoma has over 10,000 businesses. When you search the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana License database, there were 1,859 mentions of the word “green” (as of March 2021.) Almost 20% of all businesses used “Green” somewhere in their name. There were already four other distributors with Green in their name:
- Green Trek
- Green Dream Procurement
- Green 2 Go
- Green Trek
We decided to create something more unique that could help us stand out.
We spent hours running through word association exercises and came up with a shortlist of names.
The final two choices were Slingshot Distribution and Union Six.
Slingshot Distribution was based on David and Goliath. The story of David and Goliath fit the religious population of Oklahoma, and it mirrored the reality for many locally-owned brands. A new Oklahoma brand is David, fighting Goliath – multistate operators. They have years of experience, huge budgets, and access to anything they need to succeed.
David only has his trust slingshot, but that slingshot won him the battle.
We ended up selecting Union Six, a simple name the told the whole story. At our core, Union Six connects the 6 corners of Oklahoma. It flows off the tongue, stands out in a sea of “Green,” and gave us an excellent direction for building the brand’s visuals.
With our brand strategy completely defined, we created the brand identity. We started by creating two in-depth style scapes that match the personality we built.
The first style scape embodies an honest, bold, and classic look for the brand. We created a color palette of Oklahoma:
Blue represents Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City.
Green represents the Tallgrass Prairie in Osage County.
This style scape mixed two different expressive fonts – a title sans-serif font “Airwaves” for headlines and “Input serif” for bodies of text. The fonts gave a modern-classic look to the brand.
Finally, we used monogram badge logos as an example, reminiscent of 1920’s union logos with a modern twist.
Stylescape number one gave the brand a modern look, with a classic, trusted feel.
The second stylescape shares similarities with the first. It’s bold and creates trust, but with a more modern approach. The color selection of Orange and Olive Green gives an entirely different impression than the first stylescape.
When translated into monogram badge logos, they give an eye-catching pop and a memorable impression. We agreed that style scape two was removed from the personality we created, and we collectively decided to use style scape one as the base of our brand identity.
Stylescape one gave us fonts, colors, ideal imagery, and a direction on our logo. We had the majority of our brand identity created; next, we needed a memorable logo.
We decided to study old unions and other monogram badge logos that felt trusted.
These were the three logos we created.
The final logo we chose was a combination of the second logo and a monogram/emblem version created under the same style. It gives Union Six a trusted, classic, yet modern feel to it.
With the logo, we also created a design element that screams Oklahoma Cannabis. Where the logo is subtle, we used design elements and copy to tell the rest of the story.
The logo was the final piece of the brand identity and the brand. A complete brand personality and a complete brand identity let us open the flood gates and start planning our entrance to the market.
Next, we needed a website. Union Six is unique in its vision. They wanted to focus on their online sales platform and back it up with a distribution team that will travel to all six corners of the state.
We mapped out the pages we needed:
Home: Summary of The Brand
Services: What we do
About: Why we do it
Shop: A marketplace for B2B wholesale cannabis
Proteus, a cannabis ERP system, provides the shop functionality. We upload the products into Proteus, and they show up on our website. When someone places an order, the invoice shows up in our system, and Proteus creates purchase orders, product pick-up, and delivery.
Since the brand is subtle we used imagery and copy to be direct about what we do. Successful cannabis branding doesn’t scream cannabis, it speaks it using its inside voice.
Union Six has two categories of clients, dispensaries that make purchases on their website and cultivators/processors that list their products. We decided the best way to get clients on both sides of the spectrum was through quality content and direct outreach.
So we would create a multi-channel digital sales approach and combined it with a team of dedicated sales representatives who would go dispensary-to-dispensary.
We collaboratively created a strategy that identified ideal clients, compiled a list of them, and methodically reach out to them at scale.
We decided to use Facebook groups as our honey pots, Instagram to find decision-makers directly, and the OMMA list as a jump-off point. We also used CannaCon, Chronic Palooza, and Green Leaf Trader to find top-quality businesses that would be interested in our service offerings.
Our digital sales system identifies businesses, their owners, their emails, and their social media links. We programmed our system to send automatic emails to the companies’ emails and send us task reminders to send them messages via Instagram and Facebook.
This outreach made up the majority of our campaign and was responsible for most of our success.
We created specific outreach programs for producers (cultivators and processors) and dispensaries. We offered to get producers into new dispensaries in hard-to-reach places with 0 up-front fees. We also provided them six free deliveries if they put their products on our online shop.
For dispensaries, we offered a convenient process to stock up on the best products in the state. The dispensaries loved the idea of online shopping for cannabis, while the producers loved the idea of free deliveries and new dispensary accounts.
Our social media approach was an add-on to our outreach system. Our content was focused on opening communication and driving interest from businesses. We chose not to sell every post and instead take a different approach.
First, we established who we are and told our story. Then we transitioned to a combination of promotions and conversational topics. We’d showcase new products and ask the industry about their opinions, tricks, and tips for surviving in cannabis.
This approach ensured that the companies that didn’t take immediate interest would stay in our sphere of influence. And over time, they started to convert to clients as more and more brands began using our service.
We used Oklahoma cannabis Facebook groups to connect with brands with an immediate need for brokers and promote our content to a wide pool of potential clients.
It’s still early in our journey, but we’ve managed to onboard Easy Street Extracts, Oklahoma Medicine, and a brand new brand – Mobius. We’re getting a steady flow of leads from cannabis companies interested in joining our network and dispensaries ready to use our service.
We built a brand that Okies can be proud of, and the response has been resoundingly positive. People love the Union Six message, and they’re thrilled with the service we provide.
We’re in the early stages, but we’re scaling our outreach and our results as we get proof of concept.
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