Cannabis Package Design – From Idea to Shelf

As medical marijuana becomes more mainstream, package design will no doubt play a part in helping to transcend current stereotypes regarding cannabis products. If you want a product to sell, your packaging has to be designed to capture the buyer’s attention form an important part of your entire brand strategy.

Every customer that looks at one of your packages or passerby who reads a label should be intrigued by your brand.  A third of consumer decision-making is based on the packaging of a product and investing into it shows your dedication to delivering a high-quality product.

Design challenges

The fact that legislation is changing all the time can be challenging. You may spend money on beautiful packaging only to find that the laws have changed and a specific type of container is required.

Regulations vary considerably from state to state.  You need to communicate the nature of your products clearly on labels. Kiva Medical Cannabis Bars, for instance, have a warning saying that they include a high level of THC, they are not a food and should be kept away from children. Many companies who provide packaging stay up-to-date with current cannabis packaging regulations for you so you have less to worry about.

The strictest regulations with regard to structural design come with selling edibles. These have to be contained in opaque packaging so that children won’t see a cookie and grab it.  Many state regulations also include laws about child-resistant packaging.

Brands are realizing that they have to create packaging that avoids stoner clichés and appeals to those who want to feel as comfortable using a product as drinking a glass of wine at the end of the day or using medication to relieve an ailment. Packaging must balance design, form, and function as well as meet the needs of increasingly discerning customers.   

Professional help

The challenges of designing cannabis packaging mean that more expertise is now required. Gone are the days when you could get away with a homemade label. The only brands that are likely to make it to the top are those with professional packaging that is innovative. It should appeal to the target audience and also take all the regulations into account.

The market is so competitive that brands are wanting their packaging to be as attractive, appealing, professional and mainstream as possible.

Research and planning

Before design even begins, it is important to look at what competitors in the industry are doing. Your packaging is vital to attracting the right audience and getting your product into their hands. You want to be sure that yours is the best out there.

From a purely practical point of view, you will also need to gather the information that needs to go on your package, from product specifications to any special requirements.  

Choosing a product container  

You will need to explore different container options. No matter whether you’re selling extracts, seeds, edibles, or oils, you have to make sure that the container offers your customer the best possible experience from opening it, using it to closing it again.  

Creating design concepts

Brainstorming, sketching and throwing ideas around can lead to some creative design concepts.  The beauty of the design is often in the small details, such as an unexpected shape or texture.  

Designers are getting their inspiration from many different areas today rather than just looking only at the cannabis industry. They may find ideas in the health industry or even in food and wine packaging. They will usually come up with a few possible designs for you to choose from after you have briefed them about your target audience and what you are trying to achieve.

Creating a design prototype

Once you have decided on a container and a design, a prototype will be created using the correct size and shape.

Designing the package

Once a layout template is received, the design can be applied and every detail can be checked.

Sample review and approval

You will give your approval once you are completely happy and your packaging will be ready to print.  

Getting ideas from upcoming trends  

Packaging design is evolving all the time. Looking at upcoming trends can help to get you started in the right direction.  Using pastel colors rather than explosive colors is becoming more popular. Instead of dazzling users with over-stimulating colors, they are being eased gently by the use of pastels into examining products.

Vintage packaging has been popular for some time and it is continuing to entice buyers. Lasting brand identity can be created by using a vintage design that tells a story of passion, respect, and tradition.

Using innovative materials and shapes is another trend in cannabis packaging. This can indicate thoughtfulness and ingenuity which are traits that you want to go for when establishing your brand identity. Taking ideas from other long-established markets such as the food or health industry is also a growing trend that is not likely to end soon.

From plastic baggies to metal and tin cans

When marijuana was illegal, it was often sold in little plastic zip-lock baggies or brown paper bags. Now packaging has become extremely important in the competition for customers. Packaging in the cannabis industry today means taking into account numerous issues such as branding, marketing, legalities, and transportation. Being able to change course as laws change remains a key to success.

Metal and tin cans for packaging is one of the latest trends and some people predict that tin cans are going to become the norm for packaging cannabis in the future, even though they are more expensive. The advantage of tin cans is that they help to retain its freshness. They give it a long shelf life and the re-sealable lid makes it child-resistant. Tins are also a sustainable and recyclable form of packaging.  

Finding the right balance

The way you package your cannabis has to be balanced between clever branding, functional design, and legal compliance. If you strike the right balance, it will help towards the success of your business.

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