Cannabis Basics and Apothecanna: Two Excellent Examples of Topical Cannabis Brands

Apr 20 • Products & Packaging, For Her, Modern Marijuana Branding • 3548 Views • 2 Comments on Cannabis Basics and Apothecanna: Two Excellent Examples of Topical Cannabis Brands

By Claire Kaufmann | April 21, 2015

Topical products, I believe, are one of the most underrated and most undervalued verticals in the cannabis industry.  The less sexy cousin to edibles, topical cannabis products have  absolutely no psychoactive effects whatsoever.  Products have proven to treat a variety of ailments, alleviating conditions ranging from PMS cramping, to skin allergies, to swelling and general inflammation.  What makes topicals compelling to me as a marketing person is that while they deliver the same high profit margins as edibles, topicals are far less likely to be bogged down in the endless legal scrutiny that will long plague other segments of the market.  Plus, topical cannabis is set to compete in an entirely different arena.  While cannabis flower and edibles will inevitably compete with alcohol, spirits and probably even tobacco, topical products will compete with products like Tylenol, aspirin, and other pain relievers.

There are several topicals brands emerging as leaders at the moment. Two of the most compelling are Cannabis Basics and Apothecanna, each important in their own way.

Cannabis Basics | Cannabis Creations

Founded by Ah Warner (don’t you want her first name? Ahhh….), Cannabis Basics is a Seattle based topical company blowing up the topicals market throughout the pacific northwest. With decades of experience in aromatherapy and hemp product development, Ah set her sights on topicals in 2012 when she started her most recent derivative of her company.

What I love the most about Cannabis Basics, is that their products together create a portfolio that says “trust us,” we deliver “consistent, reliable relief.” Their products, I would think , would appeal to parents and to seniors first. In the end the clean lines and uncluttered labels help make a “new” product category like cannabis topicals approachable and easily understood. Gone are the 420 references and obsessive green packaging. Cannabis Basics shows us that you can speak through the quality of your products, without all the other bells and whistles. Look at their beautiful packaging designs!



Their packaging walks the line between spa-like and pharmaceutical. For some reason they really remind me of Dr. Teals or Eucerin. Practical, natural and reliable. See what I mean? 

If I was going to give one critique of their brand, is that their packaging is just a little androgynous and/or safe.  Not that appealing to everyone is a bad thing, but in the end it seems that most topical products have to pick a gender. Ben-Gay? That is a man’s product. Say Yes to Carrots? Woman’s product.  Maybe it is that I want them to come off as just a bit more “delicious” and maybe even a bit more “playful.”

One of my all time favorite brands that could be an inspiration here is Blue Print Juice.  Even though they have the same “gender neutral” packaging concept as Cannabis Basics, it comes off as a bit more crave-able, because we can actually see inside the packaging.

With all the work Cannabis Basics has done in sourcing good ingredients, maybe even make the label smaller to show the product even more? Lastly, I think they could benefit from talking about consumer benefits. What problem does your product solve? Will it get rid of my headache? Great. Will it relieve my scratching? Even better. Help the packaging be more specific, even though the product itself could be used for any ailment.

Apothecanna | A Modern Application of Traditional Medicine

One company that does know how to put the consumer first is Apothecanna, based out of (shocker!) Colorado. Apothecanna founder James Kennedy, founder of Apothecanna, has a background in product development and branding and it shows.  Apothecanna’s website exclaims brilliantly, “We believe in the fundamental right of access to the healing powers of nature and promote sustainable interaction with the world around us.” Amen, James! Thank you!

Besides the tasteful but not obvious nod to the cannabis leaf on the front and the almost Paul Mitchell salon appeal, what I love most is that Apothecanna succeeds where most cannabis companies fall short – they serve the consumer first! 



Do you have pain? We can help with that. Feeling stressed? We’ve got you covered. (No pun intended.) It’s as if when I stand in front of the shelf I say which one of these should I get, to the exclusion of anything else that might be available. The packaging walks the line between the cleanliness of a salon product and the nerdy-chic appeal of Dr. Bronner’s and Keihl’s.







Apothecanna products are available in dispensaries throughout Colorado and in Oregon at Oregon’s Finest!

If I had one critique of Apothecanna it would be that I want more story. Maybe that will come with a website version 2.0 site but what Cannabis Basics has is heart and wisdom and I don’t get that from Apothecanna (yet.) But if James Kennedy is like most of the cannabis entrepreneurs I know, he is spending his time where he should – making good products that deliver. A fancy-pants website is hardly necessary.

I can’t wait to watch both of these companies as the topicals market expands. To read about more cannabis topicals brands check out this High Times story.

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2 Responses to Cannabis Basics and Apothecanna: Two Excellent Examples of Topical Cannabis Brands

  1. Stacy Sawyer says:

    Great piece! Apothecanna is my favorite topical product. To your point about using their Web site to educate consumers, I agree completely that the how-why background is missing, and I think that it actually is worth a good bit of time. One of my personal interests is using topicals as part of endurance sports training. Recreational and elite athletes could benefit so much from these products but have no idea how or why they should venture into this. Not that a company should be responsible for giving a Cannabinoid 101 class, but product sites are a primary source folks use to understand the whole weed thing. Love the site, learning a ton here.

    • says:

      Hi Stacy,
      Thank you so much for the comment! I really appreciate your feedback. Are you interested in writing about the endurance sports market specifically? If so, I’d love to learn more.

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