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Tetra is a Portland cannabis dispensary with an identity built around accessibility and the normalization of legal marijuana consumption. With an emphasis on top-quality products, warm customer service, and an approachable in-store experience, Tetra is the dispensary we had all been looking for.

Eris Creative launched Tetra Cannabis in the summer of 2017, and was involved in the process at nearly every step of the way. In a city saturated with dispensaries, our primary challenge in launching Tetra was to design a brand experience with broad appeal. To satisfy our objective of creating an accessible environment with a messaging focus of cannabis normalization, Eris developed an integrated marketing plan that saw Tetra through from licensing and permitting to grand opening and beyond. Between neighborhood outreach, bright and colorful interior design, and a combination of digital and traditional marketing tactics, Eris succeeded in designing a profitable dispensary brand predicated on customer trust and relatability.

Background

Tetra was created to capitalize on an underserved opportunity within the Portland cannabis industry. The primary objective was to curate a brand experience that would resonate with cannabis consumers from all walks of life, regardless of age, professional background, or frequency of use. Further, it was imperative that Tetra offer a unique shopping experience given Portland’s heavily saturated cannabis retail environment. To fulfill our vision of an accessible, normative, and widely attractive dispensary experience, Eris developed and executed a strategy consisting of both traditional and digital marketing tactics designed to build the brand and increase Tetra’s visibility in online spaces. Since its highly successful grand opening in August 2017, the dispensary has benefitted from steady growth as brand awareness continues to rise.

 

Eris was the driving force behind the development of Tetra Cannabis, from concept and permit applications to space design and marketing plan execution. Our team sought and identified an eligible, high-traffic retail location that satisfies licensing criteria set forth by city and state agencies. Once we were granted access to the building under new ownership, we set out to design a bright and approachable interior that is compliant with Oregon state cannabis regulations. The experience of opening a dispensary from ground zero was an excellent opportunity for the Eris team to step outside its normal areas of expertise. Additionally, it allowed our team to gain valuable insight into the inner workings of the cannabis industry.

The idea for Tetra was conceived to fill a gap in the Portland dispensary market. With an approach centered around accessibility and destigmatization, the Eris team set out to launch a dispensary brand that cannabis consumers of all levels would feel comfortable engaging. While many dispensaries have found success with little in the way of marketing efforts, several have failed to truly brand or differentiate themselves in a way that complements the shifting perception of cannabis use. Recreational legalization has furthered the emerging narrative of normalization surrounding marijuana consumption, and yet there are still cannabis brands relying on stigma-laden stoner tropes that do little to legitimize this growing industry. Some are of the mind that cannabis is a product that will sell regardless of sales or marketing strategy, but with hundreds of recreational licenses and counting in the Portland area alone, we believe increased competition will put the pressure on dispensaries to differentiate themselves through smart branding and market positioning.

 

In order to meet our objectives regarding Tetra’s approachability and the accompanying narrative of cannabis normalization, the Eris team assembled and executed an integrated marketing strategy consisting of traditional outreach and digital marketing tactics. The Tetra marketing plan was designed to score the dispensary online visibility by way of search engine optimization (SEO), as well as to build brand awareness through thoughtful, organic advertising efforts. Given the unique restrictions placed on advertising for cannabis businesses, Eris was forced to get creative with the ways in which it went about delivering Tetra’s message. Possession of the building was granted in early March 2017, and by mid-July Tetra enjoyed a successful soft opening. After a well-marketed grand opening event in mid-August, awareness of the dispensary and its profitability have both continued to climb.

Strategy

The strategy behind Tetra was developed to fulfill our intentions of designing an approachable brand identity with an emphasis on the normalization of cannabis consumption and the various people who participate in the culture. Our method was built around three major aspects of the Tetra brand development process: experiential design, brand identity, and marketing tactics geared toward SEO and organic awareness. This three-pronged strategy allowed us to build up our messaging objective and back it up with complementary brand design and an experience to match. Between the dispensary’s bright and colorful interior, friendly and knowledgeable budtenders, and consistent lifestyle-oriented messaging, Tetra became the dispensary we had all been looking for.

The most important aspect of the Tetra marketing plan centered on the experiential aspects of the dispensary shopping process. We believe the retail cannabis industry is unique in that the customer’s experience is perhaps the most informative aspect of their purchasing decision. To that aim, it was crucial for us to design a welcoming and accessible retail experience that every customer could appreciate. Bold, detailed menus, an approachable modern bar display, and highly knowledgeable and friendly budtenders combine to create an atmosphere that keeps customers interested in engaging with the brand. Additionally, the focus on bright colors and a breathable interior serves to reinforce the brand’s disassociation with the stigmatization of cannabis. There is not a single point within the Tetra dispensary shopping experience that calls to mind stoner tropes or negative cannabis-related connotations.

Another tactic attached to our experiential objective relates to ongoing neighborhood outreach and community involvement. While the city of Portland has generally welcomed the legal cannabis industry with open arms, the Eris team felt it was important to integrate into Southeast’s popular Belmont district as seamlessly as possible. To reinforce the approachability of the brand and blend into the surrounding area with ease, much effort was directed toward making contact with neighbors and local shops. We designed neighbor discount cards that are good for life and developed co-marketing efforts with nearby businesses. This supported Tetra’s mission of inclusivity while also endearing the dispensary to the local community, thus forming long-term customer relationships.

In addition to the experiential aspects of shopping at Tetra, we felt it was necessary to develop a complementary brand identity that reinforces our objectives for the dispensary. Authentic brand identities are based on truths about the company that customers find relatable. Tetra’s truth is that people who consume cannabis in its various forms come from all walks of life and do not fit into the stereotypical stoner box. The idea that people who participate in cannabis consumption are neighbors, parents, business people and so on is what led us to present Tetra in a normalized, lifestyle-oriented light. The tagline, “For your lifestyle,” is a theme that can be found throughout various levels of the brand’s execution, thereby reinforcing the normative narrative that Tetra was built upon.

Beyond messaging, the development of Tetra’s brand identity was also communicated through its visual design, including logo, color palette, and branded assets. Logo creation relies on a thorough understanding of the principles your company represents. In other words, it should reinforce your brand story. Tetra’s modern and legible logo was carefully crafted by the design team at Eris to reflect the dispensary’s accessible take on modern cannabis consumption while avoiding common cliches we see throughout the industry. The brand’s emphasis on destigmatization led to a clean logotype with a simple leaf that can be repurposed as a standalone image or a pre-roll icon. This leaf was designed to represent the fact that cannabis is a natural product without calling to mind the blatant stoner imagery associated with cannabis plant leaves.

Tetra’s brand identity—both the messaging and visual aspects—is thoughtfully woven into all associated brand collateral. From a bright and informative website to non-explicit branded merchandise, the general vibe and aesthetic promote a lifestyle-centric approach to cannabis consumption. As part of our work with Tetra, Eris handles all product photography, as well as photography and video for any advertisements, marketing assets, blog content, and social. This creation of compelling visual assets allows us to better communicate Tetra’s story, giving Tetra a competitive edge when it comes to reinforcing brand awareness. Further, it enables the brand message and visual identity to remain consistent at every level of consumer interaction.

The final component behind the strategy for Tetra relates to ongoing digital and traditional marketing efforts. As a digital marketing agency, Eris is well versed in the benefits of social, email, and search engine marketing techniques. That said, the rules for cannabis advertising are chocked full of nuance and regulation, which forced us to consider alternative approaches to spreading the word about Tetra. Through a combination of digital, print, display, and neighborhood outreach, Eris developed and executed a comprehensive plan for the successful launch and promotion of Tetra. This includes unique print collateral, a consistent and on-brand social media presence, and playful and informative blog posts.

In an effort to skirt complications posed by online advertising regulations for cannabis businesses, Eris relied on traditional print and display marketing tactics to boost Tetra’s brand recognition. Between strategically placed billboard advertisements and promotional flyers, as well as coasters and lifetime discount cards for neighbors and friends and family, Tetra’s brand identity stays top of mind in a visually tangible way. Tetra’s more digital-based marketing tactics were largely reserved for SEO activities, including a regularly maintained blog with content designed to complement the brand’s lifestyle messaging. In addition to providing readers with trustworthy information that parallels their lifestyles relating to cannabis consumption, the Tetra blog also serves to optimize Tetra’s website. Social media is used to promote dispensary discounts, daily deals, and content created for the website or the blog.

Taken together, this three-prong approach to Tetra’s overarching marketing strategy was executed with great success. The response to Tetra’s dispensary experience has been described by customers in the same or similar terms that Eris identified when building out the brand identity. Perhaps more importantly, the profitability of the dispensary has continued to rise in tandem with general awareness of the Tetra brand. We believe our experience in launching Tetra Cannabis from start to finish has given us incredible insight into untapped potential within a seemingly flooded market. Depending on what a cannabis client is hoping to achieve, we are confident our experience in developing Tetra has prepared us for work on other cannabis brands in need of branding or marketing assistance.

Results

“First time in was a pleasure, the staff was really enthusiastic and helpful. Welcome to the neighborhood, folks! Will return soon!”

“this place is great, and super happy to have them in the neighborhood. not overly themed or trendy, but still upscale. nice displays of high-quality flower and good selection of accessories. budtenders were easy to talk to and quite knowledgeable. looking forward to coming back.”

“Great shop with a really knowledgeable and friendly staff. they’ve always got great quality bud and offers good deals.”

“Beautiful store. Nothing but primo. My favorite part is the detailed description of the bud including strain, cannabis type, but most importantly…EFFECTS!! I can’t tell you how many times I have gone into a shop asking about specific effects and the bud tender has no idea and I end up with something I would not have wanted had I known what the effects were going to be. The staff is super chill. Really friendly. Can’t say enough good things about this place. Only been once but instantly my favorite shop in Portland. Go here!”

“I have visited Tetra twice now. The staff are welcoming and friendly, solid product offerings. Although it doesn’t add anything to the quality of their product, everything is beautifully displayed, which I totally appreciate. I’d recommend visiting these folks for sure!”

“Tetra is a a sweet new spot in the Southeast. It’s super clean with modern fixtures and friendly staff. They were knowledgeable and fun and we will definitely go back.”

An Oregon native, Dustin is a serial entrepreneur with a diverse portfolio of businesses to run. His two largest roles are as president of both DC Builders, an elite design and construction firm, and DC Structures, a construction materials company. With more than a decade of leadership and management experience, Dustin lends his expertise to Eris Creative as the head of business development. Dustin lives in Portland with his wife Ilanah, son Maxton, daughter Violet, and dogs Piper and Marley.
Dustin Gruetter
Owner
Dustin Gruetter
An Oregon native, Dustin is a serial entrepreneur with a diverse portfolio of businesses to run. His two largest roles are as president of both DC Builders, an elite design and construction firm, and DC Structures, a construction materials company. With more than a decade of leadership and management experience, Dustin lends his expertise to Eris Creative as the head of business development. Dustin lives in Portland with his wife Ilanah, son Maxton, daughter Violet, and dogs Piper and Marley.
Owner
Rick began his professional career in Hollywood reading screenplays for executives like Leonardo DiCaprio and Sid Ganis. With a joint degree in business and cinematic arts from the University of Southern California, Rick moved back to his native Oregon to co-found international, multilingual internet yellow pages startup Cybo.com.

In 2013, Rick joined nationwide design and construction firm DC Builders to revolutionize its digital marketing strategy. Inspired by their success, Rick and DC President Dustin Gruetter decided to beef up their marketing team and turn it into Eris Creative, a boutique digital marketing agency. Rick lives in the St. Johns neighborhood and enjoys hiking, fishing, and adding to his ever-growing record collection.
Rick Vranish
Marketing Director
Rick Vranish
Rick began his professional career in Hollywood reading screenplays for executives like Leonardo DiCaprio and Sid Ganis. With a joint degree in business and cinematic arts from the University of Southern California, Rick moved back to his native Oregon to co-found international, multilingual internet yellow pages startup Cybo.com.

In 2013, Rick joined nationwide design and construction firm DC Builders to revolutionize its digital marketing strategy. Inspired by their success, Rick and DC President Dustin Gruetter decided to beef up their marketing team and turn it into Eris Creative, a boutique digital marketing agency. Rick lives in the St. Johns neighborhood and enjoys hiking, fishing, and adding to his ever-growing record collection.
Marketing Director
Pat is the creative force behind Eris. A graduate of the University of Oregon art school, Pat diversified his client portfolio by working in both the Pacific Northwest and Southern California markets. Pat’s expertise spans a range of mediums.

Whether it’s focusing his attention on user interface and web design, or building brands through strong logo design and print collateral, Pat is always happy to do what he loves most: design. Pat takes great pride in his work and the relationships he builds with his clients. If Pat isn’t at his desk designing, he’s most likely out in Portland enjoying live music or a good beer with friends.
Patrick McElderry
Creative Director
Patrick McElderry
Pat is the creative force behind Eris. A graduate of the University of Oregon art school, Pat diversified his client portfolio by working in both the Pacific Northwest and Southern California markets. Pat’s expertise spans a range of mediums.

Whether it’s focusing his attention on user interface and web design, or building brands through strong logo design and print collateral, Pat is always happy to do what he loves most: design. Pat takes great pride in his work and the relationships he builds with his clients. If Pat isn’t at his desk designing, he’s most likely out in Portland enjoying live music or a good beer with friends.
Creative Director
Whitney is a savvy wordsmith with roots in student journalism. While pursuing communication studies at Portland State, she served as editor-in-chief of the university newspaper. Whitney led the editorial team to 19 state awards—including the first-place award for general excellence.

A self-proclaimed herder of kittens, Whitney applies her project management skills to keep things moving efficiently and ahead of deadline. She draws creative inspiration from a diverse resume of agency and freelance experience. Whitney loves international travel and aims to spend her free time outside whenever possible. If she isn’t hiking, biking, or striving for some zen on the yoga mat, you can probably find her wherever the good food is.
Whitney Beyer
Project Manager
Whitney Beyer
Whitney is a savvy wordsmith with roots in student journalism. While pursuing communication studies at Portland State, she served as editor-in-chief of the university newspaper. Whitney led the editorial team to 19 state awards—including the first-place award for general excellence.

A self-proclaimed herder of kittens, Whitney applies her project management skills to keep things moving efficiently and ahead of deadline. She draws creative inspiration from a diverse resume of agency and freelance experience. Whitney loves international travel and aims to spend her free time outside whenever possible. If she isn’t hiking, biking, or striving for some zen on the yoga mat, you can probably find her wherever the good food is.
Project Manager
Justin is an extremely talented photographer with more than 15 years of photography and video production experience. His eye for imagery was developed and refined while working on projects within the ski and snowboard industry. Justin has taken photos of a lot of cool things, but his favorite subject to shoot is always his family.

A football fan who roots for both the Oakland Raiders and the Oregon Ducks, Justin likes to spend his free time camping or foraging for wild mushrooms.
Justin Wiegand
Photo/Video
Justin Wiegand
Justin is an extremely talented photographer with more than 15 years of photography and video production experience. His eye for imagery was developed and refined while working on projects within the ski and snowboard industry. Justin has taken photos of a lot of cool things, but his favorite subject to shoot is always his family.

A football fan who roots for both the Oakland Raiders and the Oregon Ducks, Justin likes to spend his free time camping or foraging for wild mushrooms.
Photo/Video
Born and raised in Portland, Rikki is the Eris go-to for client satisfaction. Rikki graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism and public relations, and is particularly enthusiastic about social media strategy and execution. Rikki began her career in social media management at a Portland tech startup in 2015. Since joining the Eris team, she’s come to inhabit client management and business development roles.

Outside of work, Rikki enjoys going to concerts, rooting for the Oregon Ducks football team, and trying new restaurants. She is familiar with every sushi restaurant within a two-mile radius of both the Eris office and her house.
Rikki Ford
Account Coordinator
Rikki Ford
Born and raised in Portland, Rikki is the Eris go-to for client satisfaction. Rikki graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism and public relations, and is particularly enthusiastic about social media strategy and execution. Rikki began her career in social media management at a Portland tech startup in 2015. Since joining the Eris team, she’s come to inhabit client management and business development roles.

Outside of work, Rikki enjoys going to concerts, rooting for the Oregon Ducks football team, and trying new restaurants. She is familiar with every sushi restaurant within a two-mile radius of both the Eris office and her house.
Account Coordinator
Spencer is a diversely talented content producer whose expertise spans a variety of mediums. Born and raised in Portland, Spencer draws inspiration from the unique people and places of the rose city to tell compelling stories for clients. Since Graduating from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication in 2014, Spencer has continued to leverage curiosity and creative interests to follow his dream of producing influential projects for interesting people.
Spencer Knowles
Marketing Coordinator
Spencer Knowles
Spencer is a diversely talented content producer whose expertise spans a variety of mediums. Born and raised in Portland, Spencer draws inspiration from the unique people and places of the rose city to tell compelling stories for clients. Since Graduating from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication in 2014, Spencer has continued to leverage curiosity and creative interests to follow his dream of producing influential projects for interesting people.
Marketing Coordinator
Anna’s interest in the creative field began by understanding the need for good design and seeking out how to be a part of the solution. After receiving her undergraduate degree in marketing and graphic design from the University of North Georgia, she moved to Oregon to fine-tune her skills.

With professional experience spanning both marketing and design, Anna has employed her skills to build a restaurant brand, strengthen the digital user experience for market research apps, and create collateral for startup businesses. On the weekends, Anna is looking for the best cup of coffee, a new hike to discover, and creative ways to help people build their personal brands.
Anna Harkness
Designer
Anna Harkness
Anna’s interest in the creative field began by understanding the need for good design and seeking out how to be a part of the solution. After receiving her undergraduate degree in marketing and graphic design from the University of North Georgia, she moved to Oregon to fine-tune her skills.

With professional experience spanning both marketing and design, Anna has employed her skills to build a restaurant brand, strengthen the digital user experience for market research apps, and create collateral for startup businesses. On the weekends, Anna is looking for the best cup of coffee, a new hike to discover, and creative ways to help people build their personal brands.
Designer
Jill is a versatile designer who graduated from the Art Institute of Portland with a degree in web and graphic design and a minor in photography. Inspired by the Bauhaus design movement and macro photography, Jill’s skills are evident in her diverse portfolio of freelance projects. Her favorite project was a book for the San Francisco Giants that benefitted the ALS Foundation.

A Bay Area native, Jill has lived in Oregon since 2010. Her favorite activities are all outdoors, and include rock climbing, camping, and kayaking. She appreciates all shapes and sizes of French fries and wishes to travel as often as she possibly can.
Jill Sockolov
Junior Graphic Designer
Jill Sockolov
Jill is a versatile designer who graduated from the Art Institute of Portland with a degree in web and graphic design and a minor in photography. Inspired by the Bauhaus design movement and macro photography, Jill’s skills are evident in her diverse portfolio of freelance projects. Her favorite project was a book for the San Francisco Giants that benefitted the ALS Foundation.

A Bay Area native, Jill has lived in Oregon since 2010. Her favorite activities are all outdoors, and include rock climbing, camping, and kayaking. She appreciates all shapes and sizes of French fries and wishes to travel as often as she possibly can.
Junior Graphic Designer