Greenway Best of the Industry: Josh Sullivan, Best Design or Creative Consultant
The cannabis industry is a dynamic environment. A blend of alcohol, tobacco, health, wellness, culture, and lifestyle – the field lends itself to those who think outside the box. Creatives and problem solvers thrive in a space that balances on a line between culture and care, compliance and marketing.
“2021 was a great year for growth, both for Supper & Fried and for the Missouri cannabis industry as a whole,” Sullivan said. “We’ve been able to grain true expertise in the space and work with incredible clients both in Missouri and outside of the state. I know I’m incredibly excited to see where it goes.”
Like many businesses and leaders, Sullivan has faced his share of challenges recently. “There were struggles along the way in the industry as well as business-wise and personally. I think everyone is experiencing that right now, so it’s not unique to me. That’s life, right?”
While life and business may have presented many challenges, Sullivan’s impact and success have been tangible in a new and growing market.
What makes the cannabis space unique in your line of work?
It’s a golden opportunity to work with clients who believe in building a brand that stands out among the competition. From a dispensary standpoint, I believe it’s becoming clear that much of the cannabis product is more or less being commoditized with many of the dispensaries selling the same products as everyone else with perhaps slight variance in price here and there, and some being a little different if they’re vertically integrated. So, many of our retail clients have taken the idea of building a brand their target markets see themselves reflected in very seriously. That’s not a necessarily revolutionary concept, but having several clients in the same space with that much forethought is quite unique.
How have you found success in helping to design and market cannabis brands and products?
We start with strategy to define our client’s target markets and then creatively problem solve along the way on how to drive attention to their brands. I believe that step is essential. Anyone with a good left hand and enthusiasm for the space can make something decently attractive from a visual standpoint – whether that’s brand, or packaging, or social media – whatever. But creating brands that truly resonate with their markets is very delicate and takes a lot of upfront strategy and planning work. My business partner at Supper, Kesha Alexander, helps lead that part of our business – and I personally owe so much of my success to her. That’s how we’ve been successful. I believe that’s what makes us stand out, on top of taking the time to fundamentally understand pretty much every aspect of the industry as much as possible. At Fried, we simply believe in going wide before going deep and pushing the work until it’s perfect – and the beautiful brand and packaging work we’ve completed is a great reflection of that. I’m nothing without the Supper and Fried teams around me.
How do you intend to stay competitive as the Missouri market continues to grow?
Do the work. That’s all there is to it. We don’t compete with other folks – we compete with ourselves. Every day we try to make better, more inspiring work than the day we did before. We get involved. We listen and find ways to refine. If we continue on that road, we’ll be just fine as the evolution on the industry continues.
Can you tell me about some of your biggest successes in 2021?
Getting our cannabis clients off the ground and making them stand out – both brand and market share-wise – has been super rewarding. It can be a crowded space very quickly, and I believe our clients’ brands stand above the rest. We’ve won multiple American Advertising Awards for every single one of our cannabis clients in the last two years as well, so that has to show for something.
What plans are on the horizon for the company?
Dive deeper, learn more. We’ve got big growth numbers then we’re looking to close in on the horizon – but at the end of the day, it’s not about a checkered flag or a trophy at the end of a project. Ours is a life of process and refinement. There will always be another problem to solve, another puzzle to put together and another brand to make sing. Our focus in on putting our heads down, doing the work to the absolute best of our ability, leaving it all on the floor, and doing it again tomorrow.