The cannabis industry is ballooning to $21 billion in revenue by 2021 by some estimates, yet it still remains the Wild West where anything can happen. Once thought of as just a place for stoners and “dead-heads,” the industry is garnering excitement and interest from leading design firms and designers. This is evident by the recent news that former Nike designer Scott Wilson is now Chief Experience Officer for Cresco Labs, a Chicago-based cannabis company.

The explosion of pot and interest in the industry as a whole means that design will play a major role in cannabis consumption very soon. Yes, vape pens have been in the market for a while and some have good branding, but by and large, the cannabis and CBD products will be in need of modern packaging, beautiful imagery, and branding that connects with consumers for years to come.

What’s ahead?

Just think about the various forms that we’re seeing now and that are coming in the near future. You have different types of CBD oils and cannabis that do different things. Do you want a happy high? Do you want to reduce stress? How about sleeping better? This is exactly where good branding comes into play. New brands need to think about how to connect with the consumer, stand out from what will surely be a crowded market, and also educate people quickly.

“Branding has gone from being an afterthought to becoming a central aspect of the competitive strategy among cannabis companies,” says John Kagia, EVP of industry analytics for New Frontier Data. “Brands which have been able to effectively identify specific consumer segments and tailor their branding and marketing strategies to reflect the priorities and preferences of those groups are best positioned to compete as the market matures.”

From the Forbes article The Cannabis Branding Battle Ahead

Are there benchmarks?

Designers might think that other industries such as alcohol or tabacco might provide some insights into how to best approach design and marketing with cannabis. While some of the best practices will surely translate, there are also significant restrictions in marketing that plaque the cannabis industry.

This is where creativity will soar. Design will absolutely shape the future of this industry and will help modern brands make an impact. The only question that remains is how long will it take for a few brands to rise to the top?


Chuck is the Design Brother and CEO of Rareview, where he's been lucky as all hell to win several design awards, including the coveted Webby Award. Now he really thinks he's a designer.

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