A New Branding era
Recreational cannabis will mean freedom — and a challenge — for designers
Currently, medical cannabis advertising is dominated by caduceus medical symbols, marijuana leaves and the color green. As recreational sales begin, graphic designers can increasingly take their branding in a whole new direction.
One trend is toward minimalism that borrows from the clean Bauhaus style of the 1920s. Companies like Nug, TOK Concentrates, SCLabs and hmbldt have adopted the philosophy that “less is more.” Hmbldt’s look is particularly austere, with no letter spacing and lowercase letters in Carousel type face.
“The team pulled from cues in the wellness space to ensure the entire brand experience communicates safety, efficacy and quality,” says hmbldt’s Derik McCarty. New York artist Mark Sarosi spearheaded hmbldt’s visual identity with muted colors and white to create a sophisticated look.
On the other end of the graphic spectrum are companies with irreverent designs, like Diggity Dabs’ dripping right-side brain, and Shaman Extracts, which features a high priest using a dab-rig. Unregistered Extracts also parodies the dabbing experience inside the Great Seal of California — a grizzly bear sits back smoking while Minerva protects the oozing concentrate.
One of the most recognizable cannabis mascots is the Korova three-eyed cow, drawn by Sacramento tattoo artist Corey Bernhardt of Reclamare Studio. “Most of my illustrations start with a series of sketches, photo-composited together to make a composition,” said Bernhardt. “Korova leaned towards ‘A Clockwork Orange,’ which was what they pitched to me.”
“The third eye is a very loose reference to the psychoactive effects of THC,” said Korova’s Blake Powers. Corey knocked it out of the park on the first draft.”
Some cannabis growers mimic a ‘60s vibe with images of barns, pine trees and hillsides. Others, however, give nostalgia a contemporary twist. “We wanted to procure a modern/vintage look,” said Cliff Sammet of Cannadips. “We have always been fans of the vintage coffee/tea tins.”
How will recreational packaging finally look? “Cannabis is consumed in so many different ways that packaging designs and companies will have to get creative,” observes Bernhardt.