Obviously, every cannabis business would prefer to have stately and professional graphic design of the highest quality, but the reality is that not every business can afford to hire the best agencies. And even the biggest companies want to ensure that their design efforts get completed on time and within budget.
So what can a cannabis company do to get the most out of their graphic design business and effectively use all the marketing channels open to them, including social media, magazines, digital advertising, and more? Well, short of hiring a full-service design house to be at their beck and call, the best approach is to be deliberate and thoroughly research all of your options before setting down a path that could lead to costly dead ends and less than optimal results.
The best approach is to be deliberate and thoroughly research all of your options before setting down a path that could lead to costly dead ends and less than optimal results.
Here is an outline of what a cannabis company should be thinking about as they develop a plan for their graphic design requirements.
Start With A Marketing Plan
Before you pay for graphic design for your cannabis company, even if we’re just talking about your logo, figure out what your marketing strategy is going to be. How are you going to let people know about your company? What values do you want to convey through your branding? What is your budget for marketing?
These are all important questions that will directly tie into what kind of graphic design you want, and how much you can afford to pay for it. If you’re really serious about your company’s success, you’ll take the time to research your market, and figure out who your potential customers are, and what your competitors are already doing that’s working.
The more detailed you are in your marketing strategy, the easier your job will be moving forward. In the best case, you’ll have a dedicated marketing person (or team) whose job it is to formulate the strategy for you. But if you are a smaller operation and you have to be in charge of everything yourself, then it’s even more imperative that you take the time to do your homework, as it will save you a lot of time and money down the road.
Pay For A Professional Cannabis Style Guide
At this point in the process, you’ll want to invest in a professional style guide. The earlier you can establish the look, style, and message of your brand, the faster you’ll be able to effectively ramp up your marketing presence and start building a customer base. A cannabis style guide will lay out all of the parameters that govern every piece of graphic design from here on out.
It may seem like a luxury that you don’t actually need, but a professional style guide is one of the best ways you can reduce how much you’ll need to spend on graphic design moving forward. This is because a style guide establishes the parameters for your brand, laying out specific guidelines for how your logo, text, slogan, packaging, and everything else should be depicted in pretty much every context.
This way, every graphic designer you hire, whether they are full time team members or one off freelancers, know exactly what the expectations are, and they can quickly execute on your graphic design needs without having to reinvent the wheel every time. For a reasonable up front fee, you’ll be able to lower your costs in the future.
Work With A Designer That Specializes In Cannabis
When it comes time to pick out a graphic designer or a graphic design agency, you’ll have plenty of choices. You might even find cheaper alternatives among general, all-purpose designers who are experienced with lots of different agencies. This may seem like an attractive option, but in the long run you’re likely to find you would have been better off paying a bit more for a graphic designer whose got extensive experience with the cannabis industry.
The reasons for this are manifold. First of all, designers who understand the industry, know what’s popular, and having worked with cannabis companies before will have a huge head start on some of the key issues they face. This includes the fact that cannabis businesses encounter a lot of restrictions and strict rules they must follow when advertising their products. This will directly impact the designer, especially when it pertains to package design and digital or print advertisements.
Another advantage for cannabis specific designers is they understand what’s popular, and more importantly, what’s become cliché when it comes to cannabis design. In particular, the cannabis industry is faced with a lot of stereotypes, and this influences much of the way cannabis brands are depicted. A knowledgeable designer will be able to avoid these tropes and help your brand craft a unique, appealing identity.
Create Content That Will Work On Multiple Platforms
When money is tight (and let’s face it, when is money not tight?), one of the best ways to stretch your marketing dollar is to direct your graphic designer to create versatile images that can be used across multiple platforms. For example, if you are designing a digital ad, you may have some specific copy that only applies to that campaign, but you can create a second version of the same image, with appropriate text for social media, your website, etc.
The same goes for posters, brochures, banners, and any other kind of designs you need. Think about how you can convert that content for use in other parts of your marketing strategy. It’s a lot easier to take one image and refit it for other platforms than it would be to design a separate image for all the different places you want to spotlight your brand in.
This is especially relevant with social content. We typically recommend that most content have a square orientation, which is the preferred size for Instagram, as it will work equally well on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter. But some clients want us to modify each image to the preferred dimensions of each platform. This may take a little bit of extra work on our part, but it’s still a lot easier than designing completely separate content for every social media platform you may want to leverage.
Focus On Quality Over Volume
It’s very tempting for people to approach their marketing with a cheap but high volume approach. They figure the more content they can produce at the lowest price, the more they’ll get their name out there. And while that’s true to an extent, what good is getting your name out there, if what people are going to remember are sub-par images and crappy design?
Concentrate on producing the best quality content whenever possible, even if that means you end up with fewer usable images. Those images can be reused and they will be more effective at attracting customers than twice as many low quality images from a cheaper designer.
Use Stock Photos
Another good tip, especially as you are starting out and building your customer base, is to rely on stock imagery rather than original photography. For a newer company, you might need your own photographer only once or twice, to get pictures of your team and to spotlight your facility/location. When it comes to your social media and marketing presence, you can utilize a cheap but high quality stock photo website to ensure your brand has a professional look.
This approach gives your graphic designer a lot of leeway to create amazing images without needing to break the bank. While stock imagery can be a bit generic, and won’t lend your brand a fully unique presence that you likely aspire to, it’s a lot cheaper than hiring a photography team every month or so to create new pics for your Instagram feed. The only real drawback is that the major stock sites don’t have a huge selection of quality cannabis images, though that’s likely to change quickly as demand rises.
Communicate Effectively With Your Advertising Platforms
Another way to be efficient in the way you handle your graphic design pipeline is to communicate effectively with the advertising platforms you work with. Make sure you know exactly what their requirements are for artwork, and then pass all the relevant information on to your graphic designer. Ask about any particular restrictions they have for the content they run as well. For instance, what’s their policy on showing consumption in advertisements?
Pro Tip: Don’t just settle for the maximum or minimum dimensions and resolution. Find out what their preferred sizes are for the images they are going to print from, and use those. The publishers know exactly what looks best, and this will make it much easier for your graphic designer than trying to figure it out on their own.
Pay Close Attention To Your ROI
Professional graphic design is a huge investment. The good news is that it should be money well spent, especially if you follow all the advice here. But it’s also imperative that you keep careful track of what works and what doesn’t, so that you can refine your marketing approach accordingly.
Data is your friend. Whether it’s your website, your social media accounts, or your print advertisements, keep track of as much data as you can and look for which images are getting the best results. Which paid ad campaigns are leading directly to sales, email sign ups, or product inquiries? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you could be wasting money that would be better spent elsewhere and not even know it.
Hire A Team That Does Both Graphic Design And Photography
Speaking of photography, when you’ve reached the point that you want to invest in original photographs to be used in your marketing, find an agency that does both. Not only does this make the management of your vendors easier for you, but you’ll also save money than if you hired two (or multiple) separate companies. You’ll be able to get a package deal for both graphic design and photography at the same time, and the two distinct aspects will fit together more effectively.
This principle also applies to other types of digital content, such as videography or drone photos and video. If you can find a team that does it all, and does it well, you’ll rest easy knowing that all of your marketing content is being handled by professionals.
Fortunately, The Hood Collective is a full-fledged graphic design house that also handles photography, videography, and aerial footage.
Partner With The Hood Collective For Professional Cannabis Graphic Design
Graphic design is one of the key components of any company’s branding and marketing efforts. This is especially true in the ever-more competitive cannabis industry, and that’s why you need to work with a professional, customer-oriented graphic design agency that understands the cannabis industry. At The Hood Collective, we’ve worked with cannabis farms, indoor grows, processors, distributors, lobbying organizations, medical marijuana advocates, dispensaries, and more to help them realize the power of design.
The Hood Collective specializes in creating attractive cannabis content that fits seamlessly into your brand aesthetic and that will stand out while staying within your budget. Best of all, our commitment to customer service means you’ll find the process of working with us easy and comfortable from start to finish.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.