Marijuana Business Magazine July 2019

Marijuana Business Magazine | July 2019 124 However, Tyler Horvath, founder of Marijuana SEO, a pioneer in cannabis marketing with offices in San Diego and Kansas City, Missouri—and, in the near future, St. Petersburg, Florida—said it isn’t necessary to hire a professional firm to come up with a name. “I don’t think it is a mistake at all to brainstorm with friends and colleagues,” Horvath said. Simply write the business names on a whiteboard, he suggested, and discuss what names you like and why. Don’t worry about coming up with the perfect name, he said. “Save that time for the actual work of growing your own business,” Horvath said. NAMING RIGHTS There are a few broad categories for company names, according to Winchester: • Descriptive or functional names such as Ray-Ban or Under Armour. • Experiential names such as Safari or PayPal. • Founder names such as Oakley or Ralph Lauren. • Evocative names such as Apple or Adobe. • Created names such as Acura or Google. The last category worked for Cronos Group and Tilray, two publicly traded Canadian cannabis companies, noted Horvath. “Before they were large cannabis companies, their names didn’t necessarily have any value. But now that they are publicly traded companies, their brands have a ton of value,” Horvath said. Inspiration for a name can come from odd places, Hageseth said. “Starbucks came from one line about a coffee drinker in the novel ‘Moby Dick,’ and Google is a misspelling of the word Googol, which is a one followed by 100 zeros,” Hageseth said. NAME CHANGE? What if your existing name doesn’t work? Or if your marijuana business changes directions and the original name is no longer the right fit? “That’s a tough question, which is probably handled on a case- by-case basis,” Winchester said. Choosing a new name will have “implications for cost of marketing (and) store packaging as well as naming.” Horvath said for many marijuana companies, changing the original name might be inevitable. “You should always be pivoting in this business, or you won’t survive,” he added. “The same goes for your business name and your brand.” Money Well Spent Working with a marketing firm to come up with the perfect name for a cannabis business can be an expensive and time-consuming proposition. But it also can prove well worth the expense. It can cost in the neighborhood of $50,000 to hire an agency to find a name for a marijuana business, according to Christian Hageseth, founder, chair and CEO of Denver-based One Cannabis Group. For that kind of money, you get far more than a name, he said. “You won’t have just one person, but a team working on it,” Hageseth said. “Thought leaders will help you figure out what is important to your brand. The process will question your assumptions.” Services from a top-notch firm could include focus groups, surveys and video interviews, he said. As part of selecting the name, they also will come up with logos, marketing ideas and packaging designs. A firm also will thoroughly search trademark and URL databases to make sure no one else owns your chosen name. That detail is extremely important, noted Ron Silver, who most recently founded CBD-infused sweetener company Azuca. “Legally, it’s hard to find something ownable,” because so many cannabis names already have been taken, Silver said. As with all businesses, cannabis companies want to make sure that they own their own name. “The brand world is littered with startups who have a clever name, invest money in it, only to find out that it’s trademarked by someone else,” according to Bill Winchester, president and chief creative officer of the marketing firm Lindsay, Stone & Briggs. However, spending thousands of dollars to come up with a name is going overboard, according to Tyler Horvath, founder of Marijuana SEO. “You should spend no more than $20,” Horvath said. He suggested trying an online tool such as Namelix, which uses key words to generate business-name ideas. Another choice is to buy a marijuana name off the shelf from a company such as Ganjapreneur, which sells domain names. Some cost less than $1,000, while others cost tens of thousands of dollars. Entrepreneurs can also make offers on marijuana business domain names at Ganjapreneur. – John Rebchook Christian Hageseth Tyler Horvath is the founder of Marijuana SEO. Courtesy Photo the Game Name