In 2018, GTI’s brand team kicked-off a comprehensive rebrand initiative for the Dogwalkers logo, packaging and visual ID. The key drivers behind this project were as follows:
The standard approach for pre-roll manufacturers is to use what’s called the shake or trim portion of the cannabis flower. These are portions of the plant that are cut away from the more valuable bud or flowering portion. Dogwalkers on the other hand, has always allocated premium, popcorn-sized buds for pre-rolls. Not to mention, each pre-roll is hand-packed by a skilled artisan. With this in mind, the brand team initiated a complete audit of the previous packaging suite and came to the conclusion that, although fun and eye-catching, the aesthetic did not fully highlight the brand's value points to our consumers. This was the impetus behind why, in 2019, the Dogwalkers brand underwent a comprehensive rebrand to elevate the packaging, logos, and communication pillars to further establish the brand as a premium leader in the cannabis and CPG space
To start, the team initiated a thorough analysis of the pre-roll category. This was done by reaching out to patient care specialists (PCSs) throughout Illinois to see what elements the brand had been missing. It turned out, that the pre-roll category as a whole carries vintage and ritual elements that aren’t shared by other cannabis product categories, like edibles or vapes. In addition to premium quality, GTI wanted to communicate that vintage, timeless, and classic aesthetic one might notice in other established product categories, like high-end whiskey products.
Given the fragmented, state-by-state nature of cannabis regulation, GTI and Dogwalkers wanted to create a universal container design that would scale into new markets and allow for bulk ordering. A new package design had to be something that would be compliant in as many states as possible, so the full packaged component is flexible enough to enter into new markets as GTI's footprint expands.
With the two high-level north stars determined, the GTI brand team partnered with botique marketing agency, High Dive, to develop the new design and packaging structures. From a design standpoint, we arrived at an all-new color scheme for the brand. It relies on deep forest green and aged metallic gold colors reminiscent of the classic Gilded-Age pairing of gold and green felt. The aim was to convey a vintage motif and to suggest timelessness and ritual.
In regards to the updated packaging structure, we knew we had created equity in the altoids-like tin that was used in the previous branding, so we updated the look to match the new-found design. We also elevated the branding by implementing embossed elements as well as a pre-printed origin story that alludes to Dogwalkers' donation partnerships. New to this version of the pack, the tin carries a paperboard insert folded into a five-pocket chevron pattern. This serves to provide each of the five pre-rolls a designated spot, and ensure the final presentation to the consumer is clean. Finally, we arrived at a custom child-resistant carton, with branding elements in the required tamper labels that tied our SKU categorization of "Sit", "Stay" and "Play" back to the three main cannabis cultivars.
Ultimately, our rebranded design and packaging structure allowed us to premiumize the product portfolio in retail, guarantee our supply chain organization could flexibly move packaging from market to market (due to the universal and market agnostic structure of the carton and tin), and ensure that Dogwalkers would fit the complex regulatory requirments, as GTI continues to expand into new, nuanced, markets.
When compared to 2018, Dogwalkers revenue in 2019 more than doubled, with the highest volume months occuring in markets post-rebrand. Obviously, this point strongly supports the overall success the rebrand acheived through consumer trial, retention and loyalty.
2019 was the first year that the prestigious Clio Awards accepted submissions from the cannabis space, expanding on Clio’s reputation for establishing best-in-class programs that honor creative ideas in a variety of specialized verticals. Through the rebrand, Dogwalkers was recognized in the inaugural cannabis edition, winning the Silver Award for the Brand Design in Packaging category.
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