Jared Mirsky is the founder and CEO of Wick & Mortar, a Seattle Washington-based award-winning cannabis focused branding & marketing agency. Since 2009 the company has been featured in more than 15 magazines including Entrepreneur Media, Forbes, Discovery Channel, Channel, Huffington Post, CNN Money, Geekwire, The Dieline, High Times, Dope Magazine, NW Leaf Magazine, Leafly, Cashinbis, Top 40 under 40 in Marijuana Venture Magazine, and Dope Magazine Industry Award Winners for “Best Cannabis Design Firm,” two years in a row. This week, Wick & Mortar’s client, Narvona, became the first cannabis brand to win a PAC Global Packaging Award.
How did you get into this business? When I was 19 I started dabbling in graphic design with a company called Mirsky Design. Around 2007 I was exposed to what would become the cannabis industry. I started focusing in this area because it gave me an opportunity to focus on a niche and become a thought leader in the space. In 2009, we only had a handful of small business clients in cannabis, just dispensaries and cultivators who didn’t want to be known. But I said to myself at the time, this is going to be something. I’ve watched this industry go from black market to medicinal to recreational.
Why did you initially name the company Online Marijuana Design? At the time I knew that the name would rank well with Google search engines. Until recent years, marijuana was an underground commodity, hidden from the world to avoid social stigma or even legal action. But when I decided to focus on this niche I just wanted a name that made it easy for potential customers to find and understand our service.
Why did you rebrand the company a few years ago? My initial vision and mission was really just to create a company that serves the cannabis industry. But companies evolve and brands should evolve too. Successful brands solve problems. Today our services include brand identity, packaging and web development. We understand the complex challenges cannabis businesses are up against, and we enjoy working with the big dogs and the underdogs.
What excites you these days? For quite some time we’ve been on a mission to rebrand cannabis and play a role on educating the industry on successful branding in the cannabis space and the impact it has on the world. This week our client, Narvona, won a 2020 PAC Global Leadership Award. It’s the first time a cannabis brand has won such a major award. It’s really exciting to receive such a prestigious award outside of the cannabis industry. It goes to show that we are well on our way to destigmatizing cannabis on a global level. It’s our mission statement. We want to change perceptions, one brand at a time.
Cannabis is evolving faster than any other major industry in the United States, mostly because it is finally coming out of the shadows. But how important is branding in this industry? There’s nothing that really differentiates a lot of brands from their competitors when they all say canna-this and that. Brand positioning is an economical market right now.
What’s a common mistake that cannabis businesses make? They don’t budget correctly. When you’re looking into entering the cannabis industry, branding and marketing is everything. Sometimes companies focus so much on things like top of the line equipment, but while of course it’s important to offer a quality product, you have to remember that consumers are brand driven and purpose driven. You have to look at how are we really building a relationship.
I don’t like working with clients that see marketing as a check mark on a box…. We have been in the industry for more than 10 years now and we’re the oldest and longest running cannabis-focused branding agency in the world. If I do a job in 30 minutes, it’s because I spent 10 years learning how to do that job in 30 minutes. You owe me for the time, not the minutes. We know what it takes to build and tend to a loyal consumer following.
What drives your company to succeed? We are driven by a tireless passion for cannabis and its many benefits. What this means for our clients is that they can trust us. No other agency in this emerging industry can offer our level of expertise, experience, or enthusiasm for all phases of the process. We not only know how to navigate the complex challenges of starting and maintaining a cannabis business; we are also part of a network of visionaries responsible for shaping the future of legal marijuana. We go beyond eye-catching design and brand personality to equip our clients with the vision and relationships they will need to adapt to the ever-changing nature of this business.