Trailblazing for untapped insights on a bold new digital frontier.


It’s hard enough to build and launch one brand in a nascent, highly regulated industry.

Try doing it with three brands, simultaneously, while working towards one of the biggest legislative milestones in the history of our nation.

When Aurora Cannabis brand MedReleaf tasked their newly minted Marketing Director with embarking on an extensive search for a collaborative partner to elevate their digital presence and establish them prominently in the Canadian cannabis landscape, Sawhorse rose to the occasion with an innovative, iterative, and proven human-centered approach.

Although they were looking primarily for website design, the depth of our digital service offering, paired with the breadth and prowess of our internal capabilities to grow with their needs, set us apart as their long-term, multi-disciplinary strategic partner of choice.

The Challenge.

While MedReleaf was already an established brand in the medical cannabis space, recreational cannabis brands AltaVie and San Rafael ‘71 did not yet have a brand strategy, and product lines were still in development.

MedReleaf needed a process by which they could align a creative and strategic vision for their medical and recreational cannabis brands with the overarching goals and objectives of the organization at large. They needed a partner that was willing to roll up their sleeves, quickly gain a comprehensive understanding of the industry, and help figure things out from a digital perspective in a steadily-emerging sector.

Our Approach.

Our design thinking workshops and human-centered approach process pulled everyone together across the MedReleaf organization — key stakeholders, internal thought leaders, and industry partners, alike — to take part in a series of scenario mapping exercises hosted and facilitated by our Digital Experience team. Real customers from the general public were recruited to participate as well, qualified against thoroughly researched core customer persona data prior to workshop kickoff.

This convergence of core industry intelligence and key consumer insight took shape as comprehensive customer journey map outputs, spanning both medical and recreational cannabis brands, illustrating, in detail, every step of the purchase funnel, from product awareness to brand affinity.

These actionable insights formed the foundation for persona-specific requirements data, interpreting customer needs and priorities as user-focused website features, while providing a basis for expanded development of multi-channel content, optimization, and measurement strategies.

The Results.

Achieving success in the midst of a constantly shifting, regulatory-driven landscape doesn’t come without a lot of hard work, flexibility, and determination.

Sawhorse worked collaboratively with legal and regulatory affairs representatives to develop a very nimble and proactive creative process, in tandem with our client’s internal teams and partner agencies, to bring our collective digital vision to life. As a result, two visually iconic, user-experience-driven websites were seamlessly launched for San Rafael ’71 and AltaVie recreational cannabis brands.

These efforts culminated in the nomination of San Rafael ’71 for Marketing Campaign of the Year and Brand of the Year at the 2018 Canadian Cannabis Awards.

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