When you're in the early stages of building out and marketing your cannabis business, one of the most important elements of your branding is your logo. This should be readily apparent, as your logo basically serves as the face of your brand, and is typically the first way people will identify your business, what it does, and what values it stands for. Your logo will likely be prominently featured on your website, your product packaging, your investor presentations, your business cards, your dispensary sign, and more.
Despite all of this, too many cannabis businesses fail to invest in their logo, looking to spend as little time and money as possible. While it's true that you can find online services that will design a logo for you for extremely cheap, as little as 50 dollars or even less, this is very much a "you get what you pay for" situation. Of course, I fully understand the challenges of running a cannabis company in today's competitive environment, and it goes without saying that every penny counts.
So how can you balance the need to stay within your budget and the challenges of creating an effective logo that will serve you across the many different scenarios where it will be needed? Let's take a look at some logo design tips and advice that you need to consider before starting the logo design (or rebranding) process.
Identify What Primary Functions Your Cannabis Logo Needs To Perform
Before you start looking at graphic designers or sketching logo ideas in a notebook, identify the various ways you KNOW your logo will be used. Obviously, in the perfect world, you'll design a logo that will easily adapt to all of the future uses you will need it for, on platforms and in scenarios you never would have thought of from the beginning. But not only is that extremely difficult to achieve, it will cost a lot of money to get everything just perfect from the very beginning.
What you can do is think about the definite uses for your logo. If you are opening a new dispensary, you know your logo will need to appear on your store sign, as well as advertisements that might range in size from billboards to mobile ads. Or perhaps you are a cannabis farm, and you need a logo for your website and social media, but are also hoping to start your own line of pre-rolls. Will you be using the same branding for both, or creating a separate brand for your product line?
Answering such questions now will allow you to create the type of logo that you definitely need. Knowing the range of probable uses for your cannabis logo will give your graphic designer enough information to get started on a functional and effective logo that makes sense for your business.
Take The Time To Do Some Research
I know you are probably eager to get started on designing your new cannabis logo, but before you begin the design process, there's another step that must be considered. Even if you don't have the money to hire a branding and marketing agency, it's possible for you to do some research into competing companies and have a look at the types of logos you like and don't like.
First, you'll want to get a very solid understanding of what logos are already in your space. These will be your direct competitors. Your customers may see your logo on the same shelves and have to chose between the different branding. It's important not only that you stand out, but that you stand out for the right reasons. If your customers remember your logo because of its amateurish look and feel, that would definitely end up doing more harm and good. But if your logo follows all the same trends and style as all of your competitors, then it's unlikely that you'll make any kind of impression whatsoever.
It's also a good idea to look at companies outside the cannabis industry and see what effective things they've done with their logos. Check out some brands that possess the same values or give off the same vibe that you are aspiring too. These businesses and their logos should serve as an excellent source of inspiration as you design your cannabis logo.
Make Sure Your Logo Is Scalable
A lot of design blogs will insist that you need a simple logo. And while it's true that simplicity in design often is worth striving for, I can think of a number of ornate logos that work well for their brand. More important than simplicity is capturing the essence of your company and conveying your style and values to your audience.
But a concept that is related to simplicity and that is essential for any good logo design is scalability. This means that your logo will work equally well at an extremely small size, such as for your Instagram and Facebook profile pic, as it will at an extremely large size such as on a store sign or billboard. Too much detail or texture will make it difficult for your logo to scale, whereas simple vector shapes tend to scale easily.
Another option that can be considered during the logo design process is having different versions of the logo. When we design logos at The Hood Collective, we will normally include a full logo, as well as a separate word mark and logo mark, and a tiny favicon for your website.
Avoid Following The Latest Trends
Do a Google search for logo design advice, and invariably you'll find a lot of posts on "The latest Logo Design Trends," or "Top tips for logo design in 2022." The problem with these types of posts (besides the fact that they are often just SEO clickbait) is that if you base your logo design around what's popular in the cannabis industry right now, in a few years it will seem dated. In fact, following the latest trends is the best way to ensure that you are dating the creation of your logo.
When creating a logo, in addition to scalability, one of the most important factors you want to strive for is timelessness. You want a logo that will be appealing in 2022, 2025, and 2030. Obviously, as businesses evolve, their logos will go through a variety of iterations and redesigns. But they almost always retain some of the factors that make them distinct. Check out how Pepsi has changed (and not changed) over the last century:
But there are other companies that maintain the same logo throughout their history, indicating they really nailed it out of the gate. Take the Nike Swoosh for example. Of course, the truth of the matter is that when you're a billion dollar company, you have the resources not only to pay for a rebrand, but all of the marketing and PR that goes along with a new logo and brand style to educate your customer base about the change. For small and medium sized businesses, you don't have the luxury to change directions on a whim or pay for a rebrand to cover up past mistakes.
Your best bet is to hire the right designer upfront and do the research and ideation necessary to get the right logo the first time.
Imagine Your Logo From Your Customer's Perspective
One common mistake that companies make, in every industry, when creating branding and marketing content, is not thinking about their image from the perspective of the customer. It's understandable. You're so focused on trying to communicate what you want your potential customers to know about you, or to take away from their interactions with your brand, that it's easy to overlook the value proposition you're creating for them.
What we mean by value proposition is identifying exactly what it is you are offering your customers. Not the actual products, but the reason they should choose your products over someone else's. I'm sure you are selling amazing weed, but so are plenty of your competitors. Why should random cannabis consumer X pick yours?
For many businesses, it quickly becomes a race to sell the cheapest cannabis, or to offer the highest THC levels. For dispensaries, it's the same problem, trying to convince people in your area that your products are cheaper than the dispensary down the street. Of course, when creating a marketing plan, businesses will say they want to show their customers how great their facilities are, how clean and sustainable their processes are, and the inspiring story that led them to found their business. But if your potential customers don't care about those things, and only want to know where the closest, cheapest cannabis is, then you're going to be in trouble.
What does this value proposition have to do with your logo? It's the same idea of thinking about your logo from the perspective of your customer rather than your own. Identify what they want to see reflected in your logo, rather than focusing on what you want to communicate to them. This shifting of perspective, not just in terms of logo design, but in every way you approach your business, will ensure you that your business not only survives, but thrives. But it takes time and careful research to really understand what the marketplace wants and how you can convince them that's what you're offering.
Incorporate Your Brand Colors
When developing your logo, color is one of the most important considerations. It's usually at this point of the branding process that a business will pick out their brand colors, the distinct color palette that will be used across all of their online and real world brand signifiers, including their store front and interior, website, print and digital ads, social media, and more. So getting it right from the start is important.
But before adding color to your logo, make sure your logo looks good in black and white. Why? because in many instances, your customers will see your logo in this way, and if you've designed a logo that doesn't look appealing in silhouette, than you've probably done something wrong. Better to expose this fatal flaw from the start, rather than cover it up with some pretty colors.
When it comes time to select your brand colors, it's important to incorporate a concept known as color psychology. This is the study of how colors can impact a person's mood or perception. Obviously, certain colors such as red and yellow are best at grabbing attention, but they also might be viewed as aggressive. In addition, certain colors have traditionally been viewed as masculine or feminine, but this is a mindset that is probably better off being left in the past.
When applying color psychology to your brand, the goal is to match a color palette to your brand values, so that you can immediately give your customers a sense of what your company is all about. It's a lot more than just picking a couple of primary colors that you like. A professional graphic designer will pick out just the right shades and gradients for your cannabis brand, to achieve the maximum impact with very little effort.
Leave Out The Cannabis Cliches
Speaking of cannabis logos, you'd do well to try and get away from some of the most obvious cannabis cliches. This especially means avoiding the color green, or visual elements that are too obvious, like cannabis leafs or green crosses. Yes, your customers will immediately recognize you as a cannabis company, but they will also have trouble distinguishing your brand from the many other competing brands using the same cannabis stereotypes in their logo design.
A good rule of thumb is to remember that it's fine to draw inspiration from other logos, but you don't want to be accused of copying. The same thing applies to design trends, in particular when it comes to cannabis graphic design. You want your logo to be unique and stand out in a crowd. You also don't want your logo or brand to be accused of perpetuating negative stereotypes or being stuck in the past. That's why, if you're going to draw inspiration from anyplace, it should be cutting edge design and branding outside the cannabis space. This will ensure that you are bringing something fresh to your approach and prevent you from looking like every other cannabis brand on the shelf.
I could go into great detail into what cliches you need to avoid, but I'm guessing you all are savvy enough to recognize exactly what I'm talking about. The bottom line is: be original. The best brands are trendsetters rather than trend followers.
Find The Right Graphic Designer
Once you've done your homework and you have a good idea of the type of logo you want for your cannabis business, it's time to partner with a graphic designer or design agency that can bring your vision to life. There are a lot of talented designers out there, but that doesn't mean that every one of them is right for your brand. Here are a couple things to keep in mind.
First, you want a designer who's actually created logos before. They could be great at creating print ads, or designing content for social media, but creating a logo from scratch is a whole different ballgame. Likewise, it can be tempting to find a graphic artist who makes amazing digital art. But translating that talent into a simple, eye catching logo requires an entirely different skill set. Take a look at examples of logos they've made for other clients, preferably in the cannabis industry, before making a decision.
Second, find a designer whose style matches your desired brand aesthetic. One design agency might be great at designing corporate logos for huge companies, but if you're looking for something more intimate or unique, they may not be the best fit. Does the tone and feel of their previous work speak to you? Then it's likely they might be the right logo designer for you.
Team Up With The Hood Collective For Professional Cannabis Logo Design
The Hood Collective was founded in 2017 to bring premium graphic design services to the cannabis industry. We specialize in branding and logos for cannabis farms, indoor grow rooms, dispensaries, CBD shops and cafes, event organizers. and more. If you want your brand to stand out in the crowded cannabis marketplace, it all starts with a professional logo.
The Hood Collective offers professional logo design, as well as complete packaging design, branding, web design, and motion graphic services that are geared specifically for the cannabis industry. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.