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5 top trends in cannabis branding and packaging

Marijuana is now legal in half of U.S. states, with more expected to follow, and this has led to a rapidly growing industry selling the product—whether for recreational or medical use. We have noticed the rise in cannabis-related businesses on the 99designs platform, where we’ve seen a 55% increase in design projects being created for these new brands in the past two years.

Whether or not cannabis is legal in your state, it’s not illegal for packaging design firms to work for cannabis customer. That said, if you are a designer, you may still want to consider if this is an area that you want to focus on going forward, if it fits with your own values and if it could be controversial with other clients.

If you do decide to work with cannabis companies, you’ll need to embrace an up-to-date interpretation and steer clear of the old clichés that can have more negative connotations. As in any logo and marketing design, you’ll also want to consider your target audience.

Here are five trends to look out for in cannabis branding and packaging:

Page 1. Leafy imagery

Page 2. Green in color and in ethos

Page 3. A focus on health

Page 4. Minimalism

Page 5. Playing with stereotypes

1. Leafy imagery

The pointy leaf may be a cliché but it’s also an instantly recognizable icon; it’s the fastest way to make a product identifiable in store.

While many brands continue to use the cannabis leaf in their logos and packaging designs, they are usually doing so with a twist. Logos may use a modern, stylized version of the leaf, they may use other colors or they may combine it with other elements to modernize the design while still playing on this familiar theme.

This stylized logo by 99designs designer KisaDesign brings the classic leaf image bang up to date.

Who doesn’t get “The Munchies”? Hipster foot festival logo design by 99designs designer Iva Tan.

This logo hints at the traditional green leaf while combining a gray-blue cross that adds a more corporate and medical touch. Design by 99designs designer ludibes.

NEXT: Green in color and in ethos

Production efficiencies, ecommerce challenges, sustainability trends, new bioplastic technologies and more are among the topics on the agenda at the new Packaging Hub at EastPack 2018. This free educational program will have more than 16 hours of can’t-miss presentations and demonstrations. Register to attend today!

A vintage look for this “botanicals” brand in a design by 99designs designer pswizzard.

2. Green in color and in ethos

There’s a general movement in society towards considering the impact we’re having on the environment, and cannabis users tend to particularly appreciate the product’s natural roots. Hopping on the “raw” and “organic” trend makes cannabis products especially up to date.

Muted greens and browns are used to indicate how natural these products are while the language used reflects this as well. We’re also seeing logos and designs that suggest an established heritage that gives the brand a certain distinction in the industry.

Although hemp and cannabis can be used interchangeably, strictly speaking, hemp comes from a plant that contains only trace amounts of the chemical compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive part of cannabis. This body lotion is 100% organic in a design by 99designs designer Martis Lupus.

This logo design by markomavric uses elements of the classic green leaf while emphasizing the “raw” and “organic” attributes.

NEXT: A focus on health

Production efficiencies, ecommerce challenges, sustainability trends, new bioplastic technologies and more are among the topics on the agenda at the new Packaging Hub at EastPack 2018. This free educational program will have more than 16 hours of can’t-miss presentations and demonstrations. Register to attend today!

This tropical pain reliever is “nature’s original” and “a trusted family formula,” combining a natural green with a red medical cross in a packaging design by 99designs designer green in blue.

3. A focus on health

With medical marijuana currently being more commonly accepted than recreational marijuana, there is a particularly large business opportunity here. Brands are tapping into the medicinal properties of their products and using medical or pharmaceutical symbols and colors to add legitimacy to their business and appeal to this segment of the market.

Look for the familiar medical cross shape and packaging that makes only the smallest hint at the origin of the product inside, as well as new formats including creams and tinctures.

This hemp-based cooling balm is labeled as “sport medicine” in a design by 99designs designer hollyM.

These brownies, bars and cookies are “for medical use only.” Designed by 99designs designer forEM.

NEXT: Minimalism

Production efficiencies, ecommerce challenges, sustainability trends, new bioplastic technologies and more are among the topics on the agenda at the new Packaging Hub at EastPack 2018. This free educational program will have more than 16 hours of can’t-miss presentations and demonstrations. Register to attend today!

This minimalist packaging in black and white is a far cry from the psychedelic designs of the past. Design by 99designs designer lasko.

4. Minimalism

Taking a minimalist approach to branding can give a business a more stylish and contemporary look. Clean and simple designs still fit well with the theme of relaxation and meditation but bring the brand into the new era.

These designs can look very different from the colorful designs we’re used to but, for that reason, they can also appeal to a new type of consumer. Stylish black-and-white designs can be particularly appropriate for the new high-end, high-quality products that are emerging.

This brand’s logo and packaging is “convenient and discreet.” Web design by 99designs designer Adam Bagus.

This stylish logo by 99designs designer Strobok keeps things simple.

NEXT: Playing with stereotypes

Production efficiencies, ecommerce challenges, sustainability trends, new bioplastic technologies and more are among the topics on the agenda at the new Packaging Hub at EastPack 2018. This free educational program will have more than 16 hours of can’t-miss presentations and demonstrations. Register to attend today!

Taking the high road (bu-dum) with this craft cannabis brand logo design by 99designs designer DIX LIX MIX.

5. Playing with stereotypes

Finally, yes, we did say at the start that you should steer clear of those stereotypes—but there is a trend in cannabis branding that involves a clever play on words or hinting at that counterculture of old. Where recreational cannabis is legal, brands can afford to be a bit more playful and make explicit references to the recreational use of the product. A bit of creativity and fun will help a brand to stand out from the growing competition.

“The only thing that bakes at room temperature” says this meditating bear in a logo design by 99designs designer deb·o·nair.

These “Vibe Out gummies” are fun and friendly, and “legal in 50 states.” Packaging design by 99designs designer LanaD.

While these five branding and packaging styles have dominated the early stages of the cannabis industry, more states legalize the drug every election cycle. And more sellers will lead to more diverse branding and more packaging design experimentation.

Production efficiencies, ecommerce challenges, sustainability trends, new bioplastic technologies and more are among the topics on the agenda at the new Packaging Hub at EastPack 2018. This free educational program will have more than 16 hours of can’t-miss presentations and demonstrations. Register to attend today!

Marijuana is now legal in half of U.S. states, with more expected to follow, and this has led to a rapidly growing industry selling the product—whether for re

How Premium Packaging Helps Cannabis Brands Stand Out

Alex Collins
May 29, 2019 · 3 min read

Most cannabis retail consultants agree: the biggest influences on cannabis consumer purchases, are budtenders & premium packaging.

Over half of cannabis consumers would return to a business for another purchase if they received merchandise in premium packaging. Consumers are also likely to reuse unique, well-designed packaging.

What does this mean for cannabis & CBD brands? One of the biggest opportunities for increasing sales is to create a better package for your products. One that resonates with your brand, draws in consumers, & influences purchases.

You could litera l ly have two of the exact same products side by side, but the one that has the most appealing package is going to attract more attention.

A product’s packaging communicates many things, from what the product can do for your customers to your company’s values. Some would argue that the packaging is as important as the product itself because it’s a crucial marketing and communication tool for your business. At Sapling, we design packaging that will best sell your product while being conscious of labor costs. We will work with you to select the best possible solution for your entire product line.

Every year, 95 percent of new product launches fail. This is not to discourage you to ditch your dreams of becoming the next big thing in the cannabis industry, however. If you start with a good packaging design, you’re already ahead of the game. Not only does packaging make your brand stand out, it’s also an extension of your overall image as a cannabis brand.

What kind of clientele are you trying to attract? Who is your target audience? If you’re looking to start a luxury cannabis lifestyle brand, you have to appeal with sleek designs, & premium features. Think of Apple, for example, known for their clean, minimalistic packaging. Remember, your package is the first thing people are going to see when considering your products. Not only does it make your product stand out, but it, tells a lot about who you are as a company.

Packaging has 2 key purposes: To contain or protect your product and to catch your customer’s attention. While containing your product is obviously important in the cannabis industry (from both a legal and safety standpoint), the package you put your product in must appeal to your target audience.

You want your packaging to be both functional and easy to manage. According to one packaging survey, 62 percent of consumers are unlikely to buy from a company again if its packaging is hard to manage. So even if your product is legit, if the packaging sucks people aren’t likely to buy it again.

Sustainability

Designing packages with sustainability in mind is key. One of the biggest problems the industry is facing is a lack of sustainable packaging solutions, & strict regulations. Most companies use heavy one use plastics that aren’t recyclable & end up in landfills. At Sapling, we are able to design & manufacture sustainable hemp based packages.

Most cannabis retail consultants agree: the biggest influences on cannabis consumer purchases, are budtenders & premium packaging. Over half of cannabis consumers would return to a business for…