Identity, Integrated marketing

7 Steps for naming your cannabis dispensary (or any business)

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Camille Sanzi

So you need some dispensary name ideas

Legal cannabis is in an interesting place because the category is still young and growing quickly. For marketers and owners, this means there’s a lot of room for creativity, which is great news – especially if you’re looking to name a dispensary.

Dispensaries are just like any business – they require thoughtful planning, including branding, packaging and naming. Sometimes growers and dispensary owners can get caught up in the industry’s frantic rush to get growing, but when it comes to naming or renaming, it’s crucial to be mindful of your decisions.

Think ahead and ask yourself where you want to be down the road. By then you’ll have packaging, a sign on the store, business cards, and in two years you don’t want to hate it or spend the time and money changing it.

“A lot of people are just coming into this industry and what they’re not thinking about is the cannabis branding,” said Bill Winchester, president and chief creative officer of LSB. “There are some questions you should ask yourself, such as: What is our brand positioning? Where can we position ourselves so we have the most success as a cannabis brand? Where is the category going?”

If you’re looking to develop dispensary name ideas, check out the seven steps LSB uses to create a name:

1. Determine specialty and audience

Who is your audience and what do they want? Your name should interest and connect with the customers who you plan to attract, define your brand’s identity and set consumer expectations.

Are you a recreational or medical dispensary? If you’re medical, it’s likely you’ll want to lean more into professional names, such as Farma did, especially if you’re going for a clinical feel. With recreational names, fun and quirky ideas like Herban Legends are encouraged.

2. Figure out which name category(s) you like

Names fall into four categories, which is handy because once you determine what kinds of names you like, you can figure out which category(s) you’d like to hang in:

  • Functional – A name that says exactly what the product or brand is or does, like how Lyft gives you a lift.
  • Inventive – A made-up word that hints at relevant terms, which is a favorite category of pharmaceutical companies. They invent words for drugs like the sleeping aid Lunesta, which aptly references Luna (moon in Latin).
  • Experiential – A word that promotes or embodies an experience, such as the web browser Safari. This name is experiential because browsing the web is a search or safari.
  • Evocative – A name that doesn’t mean anything but evokes something. Does fruit have anything to do with computers? No. Does that brand evoke innovation and simplicity? Yes.

3. Determine value proposition

What value does your brand provide that others don’t? Customers have their own desires and needs when it comes to dispensaries, so you have to figure out what your “thing” is so you can use it as another method of differentiation.

Are you organic, inexpensive, luxurious? If you’re the “Hermès of cannabis,” it’s expected your brand will offer superior value and experience. If eco-friendly is in line with your values, maybe a dispensary name like Greenly is more your thing.

4. Get dispensary name ideas by pulling competitor names

Don’t waste your time coming up with names that already exist. “There’s nothing worse than getting excited about a name and then discovering a business already has that name, worse yet, that business is in your category,” said Winchester. You want differentiation so can you stand out from the competition.

Checking out your opposition also lets you know what you’re up against and provides an opportunity to figure out where there may be conflicts. Spotting speed bumps ahead of time will save you money and worry later on.

5. Determine brand personality

Are you down to earth, super chill or intense? How do you want your brand to be known? Your name should reflect your brand personality and style so customers know what to expect based on your name alone.

6. Investigate other languages

Foreign languages often have cool alternatives that may add depth to your name, like how Zappos is more appealing than if had they named the company Shoes. Just be sure you’re aware of their translations (see below).

7. Generate a master list of potential names

You might get to the tenth name and love it, but it could be taken or there’s no URL to go along with it. To bypass this letdown, build a significant list of names, put them up on a wall and have an evaluation session. At LSB our naming lists are in the hundreds. This may seem like a lot, but you’d be surprised how quickly names are removed, so you’ll want options.

Once you have a list created, consider the following:

  • Distinctiveness and likeability
    • Is it unique? What does it conjure up?
    • What’s the feeling you get when you say the name?
  • Appropriateness for the category and connotation in foreign languages
    • Is the name fitting for the category?
    • Avoid an epic translation fail and check if the name means something in another language or slang with Google Translate and Urban Dictionary. Create your own definition as the “most awesome dispensary” if a definition doesn’t exist.
  • Length, spelling and pronunciation
    • If the name is too long it might be difficult to remember or too long for a URL. (Imagine having to type each time. No thanks.)
    • Is the spelling weird? Will customers know how to pronounce it?
  • Trademark
    • Can you own it, or do three other dispensaries have the same name?
  • Sound and feel
    • Do your favorite dispensary name ideas sound or feel good to say?
    • What is the energy you want this to have and does that energy come through?

We know this may seem overwhelming, but it’s a quick process if you stay organized and answer the right questions in advance. Plus, your perseverance will pay off once you find or create a dispensary name you love and feel good about.

If you’re not ready to take on dispensary name ideas by yourself, LSB can help. Whether your team has a list of ideas or limited familiarity with naming, we’ll provide direction and help you through the necessary steps.

Later down the road, once you’re all set with a name, it may be time to consider brand development and logos, a whole other beast. Don’t worry, we can help with that too.