Christian Struzan grew up in a time and location exactly where cannabis use no longer was covert or a sign of rebellion.
Ironically, Hollywood—where cannabis was a element of daily life—perpetuated the stoner image. So, when he co-founded vape manufacturer Ionic in his hometown in 2012, Struzan set out to alter the perception.
“The brand identity for Ionic is uncomplicated,” he mentioned. “It was to reinvent cannabis and appeal to the experienced, hardworking, respectable, functioning human getting with a household and a job who also makes use of cannabis.”
Coming from the marketing and branding globe exactly where he created campaigns for massive Hollywood motion pictures and worldwide beverage alcohol brands Stella Artois, Guinness, and Beck’s, Struzan was effectively-versed in the art of promoting. He mentioned he was intrigued by the challenge of producing a comparable phenomenon in the nascent cannabis business.
“If we could alter people’s minds about cannabis, alter their perceptions of individuals that utilised it, then we could impact optimistic alter,” he mentioned.
From the outset, Struzan avoided iconography like marijuana leaves and insider jargon such as 420 and dank. “We wanted to step away from all the factors that would quickly, even if subliminally, trigger these deeply rooted stigmas and previously linked prejudices,” he mentioned.
In this, Ionic was way ahead of the curve. When the organization launched, recreational solutions had been nevertheless hiding behind a façade of healthcare marijuana. “We ran headlong into producing a brand that celebrated recreational use and demanded to be taken seriously,” Struzan mentioned. “We had complete intention of reframing the conversation about cannabis and these that discreetly use it. We wanted to bring it out of the dark and reset the bar.”
But he knew the proof had to be in the oil. Though the brand image was sophisticated and attractive, the oil had to be the purest, Struzan noted. “A massive majority of our price range is invested in sourcing premium raw supplies, gear, the cleaning of our oils, and pesticide tests on every single single batch that leaves our facilities,” he mentioned. “Our solutions are twice and 3 occasions refined, till we really feel that they are excellent.”
He’s specifically proud of the company’s current implementation of the Ionic Clean Certified plan, which tests 100 % of outbound material for pesticides and other dangerous agents prior to shipping to retail shops.
“Although not essential by state regulations, we decided that till cannabis is legal at a federal level and federal regulation is enacted, it is our duty to regulate our solutions so as to shield our consumers and our solutions,” he mentioned.
The pursuit of purity led Ionic to use meals-grade CO2 extraction even even though the procedure is much more high priced than other choices. That bet has paid dividends. In Washington State, Ionic is now the quantity 1 vape brand, Struzan mentioned. “We have seventy-two direct competitors and 1,100 in our segment,” he mentioned. “I would say that is a fairly crowded and competitive industry, [but] we generally place our consumers initially. We listen when they have feedback or criticism, and we never ever quit seeking for methods to increase our solutions.”
Element of the purpose for the company’s achievement, Struzan is specific, can be attributed to a incredibly clear notion of who Ionic’s consumers are: individuals who use cannabis as an augmentation to their currently busy and exciting lives. Far more especially, Ionic’s tribe is composed of individuals who use cannabis prior to a collaborative endeavor or as anenrichment for the duration of a social occasion or practical experience with pals. It is all in the URL: Ionic.social. “We think our solutions are finest when enjoyed in a social setting,” mentioned Struzan.
New face, new solution
Ionic went all-in on the higher-finish, socially engaged image with a makeover that spiffed up the trappings and refined the message. Seven years ago, promoting phrases like “elevated” and “redefining” didn’t seem in retail cannabis messaging. Taking branding cues from cosmetics and beverage alcohol, Ionic repositioned itself as the new “it” brand by invoking the smaller-batch cool exuded by fine whiskeys and handmade cigars. “The alter in our packaging appears and solution lines signals the alter we are obtaining from inside our brand,” Struzan mentioned. “The evolution of our message hopefully will spawn much more optimistic alter inside the business.”
Along with its new appear, the organization launched a new solution line: Ionic Cask—oil crafted in smaller batches and aged in charred oak barrels. An exclusive run of oil and a custom pod device created to maximize flavor and finish is presented in numbered, restricted-edition black-walnut boxes. The solution radiates elegance and refinement.
“The reaction has been remarkable to the Ionic Cask launch,” Struzan mentioned. “As a way of life brand, we aim to be aspirational. Our solutions are not a thing to hide rather, they are meant to be a thing 1 can be proud of and share.”
Spreading the word
When it comes to sharing his promoting message, Struzan employs regular marketing mixed with digital channels and particular events. The company’s most powerful promoting tool, he mentioned, is understanding the customer practical experience and obtaining a brand image that resonates. “Design is the silent brand ambassador,” he mentioned.
Ionic’s cautiously measured development method more than the previous handful of years is speeding up with the expansion of the company’s retail footprint from Washington state to the whole west coast, largely on the back of the well-known, and original, Black Line. Struzan mentioned expansion has only begun. He believes the smaller-batch and premium oil sector could comply with the post-prohibition trajectory of the scotch and whiskey industries, when numerous smaller, regional labels became globally recognized. “People know when a thing is designed with pride,” he mentioned.
Even even though factors appear superior for Ionic, Struzan nevertheless suffers some sleepless nights. Like any other company, Ionic faces challenges, such as defending margins and fighting for retail shelf space. Complications are compounded by the lack of representation, protection, and rights for cannabis enterprises at the federal level. “This [industry] surely is not for the weak of spirit,” he mentioned.