How to design a modern marijuana brand #modernmarijuana

Jul 23 • Modern Marijuana Branding, Think Outside the Bong • 3539 Views • No Comments on How to design a modern marijuana brand #modernmarijuana

By Claire Kaufmann | | July 12, 2014

There is an marijuana design revolution underway across the country.  This burst in creativity comes not just from consumer demand and market opportunity, but from a belief that collectively, we need to move the industry forward in a new way. Elevating cannabis design will spur even more public acceptance of marijuana and will bring new kinds of consumers into the market.  Plus, a pretty product is more apt to attract investment and more likely to get shelf space.  Here are some simple tips to help get you headed in the right direction:

1. Think Modern

Almost every marijuana brand today has both the cannabis leaf and the color green.  I think it is time we consider being more creative. Logos can be any color and any shape. Whether you are positioning as medical or recreational, either way, feel free to think more freely about your brand.  Here are a few examples of modern marijuana brands. Note some of these have green or the leaf, but they use it in a more modern way.  

 cannabis chocolate


2. Think outside the bong. Please.

good buds stick togetherOy. We’ve all seen art like this “Good Buds” poster. There is still a place for marijuana art like this, (a very, very small place,) but it really belongs promoting a local stoner event somewhere. This stoner-iffic art is pervasive in the industry and quite frankly, it is holding all of us back.  Instead of abandoning the aesthetic completely, we can re-invent it.  Take a look at this “Midnight Cookies” box. I don’t even know if these actually exist, but see how they kept the same “stoner” aesthetic but made it modern and appealing? Yes, it’s not my favorite design aesthetic but that part of the market is always going to be there.



5. Don’t be too cute.

These kinds of images are perceived as marketing to children. This is just what the press is waiting for. Marlboro was blamed for the same thing. Just don’t do it. There are so many different design elements to choose from, avoid being cute or too juvenile.

medical-marijuana-delivery-service weed_alien_by_zombie-d3d71vj dancingleaf2

3. Read the laws in your area, they will help guide your design.

For example in Colorado, the Governor just stipulated that all marijuana packaging must be opaque and childproof. States have strict guidelines of what you can and can not put in your logos and on your packaging. Consider each of the conditions as you develop the look and feel of your brand. I know this sounds like a “duh,” but you’d be surprised.

4. Pot sluts are played out.  Appeal to real women.

1351794808_lady-gaga-article-e1351875397114These kind of images are familiar to all of us in the industry and they need to stop.  They appeal to a prohibition style of marketing where marijuana was more related to porn – both industries being largely underground and having a “dirty girl chic” appeal.  It is just bottom line tacky.  If you want to use women in your artwork fine. Go vintage. Go modern. Just don’t show us skanky boobs anymore. As an alernative, check out this image from FliPen, one of my favorite new companies. See, they still have the hot chic, but she is not a sex symbol.


5. Don’t Cheap Out.

Don’t hire your brother to do your site unless he is good. Don’t get your stoner friend to do your logo if you are developing a product for the mainstream market. Don’t cheap out on your design. It shows. It just does.  So, if you can’t spring for a good designer, just use a type font, lots of people do that nowadays.

8. Design like we ARE an industry, not like we want to be one.

Dixie Elixirs represents the new “Green” Standard in cannabis design.   Although I sometimes question if their packaging makes MJ too delicious looking, to me, they embody post-prohibition era marijuana marketing. What makes them unique is they no longer ask permission to exist. They design like they ARE an industry, not like they want to be one – and that is what truly makes a modern marijuana brand.


If you follow just a few of these steps to a modern marijuana brand, you will appeal to a wider array of customers, attract more investment, and help to move the entire industry forward.

Other products I love:

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