If you can identify a brand just by looking at a familiar shape or a color scheme, you already know the importance of a great logo. A logo is perhaps the foremost part of your company’s brand. It needs to be memorable, unique, and easy to recognize.
Most of the biggest companies (think McDonald’s and Apple) have such recognizable logos that they don’t even need words, or much else, to identify themselves.
When your customers see your logo, you want them to know its synonymous with what your company stands for, whether that’s great customer service, affordable prices, quality products, or something else.
Logos come in all shapes and sizes, and they vary in price. For example, Twitter, one of the most recognizable companies in the world, only paid $15 for its logo. Meanwhile, Pepsi’s logo change in 2008 cost $1 million.
But when it comes to logo design in the cannabis industry, there are some interesting challenges. While many companies have opted to use either the iconic cannabis leaf or the color green in their logos (including us), you don’t necessarily need to go down this route to help people associate your brand with the cannabis industry.
Naturally, the best way to come up with a great logo for your cannabis business is to go back to design basics. You can also take note of what other successful cannabis companies have done.
But first, let’s consider why logos are so important in the cannabis industry in the first place.
A Great Logo is Essential in the Cannabis Industry
In 2016, it was revealed that some 44% of the logos registered as trademarks to cannabis businesses in the U.S. used the cannabis plant in one way or another. While this shouldn’t come as a big surprise, it also means that there are some real opportunities for differentiation in the industry.
Furthermore, the cannabis industry is young — but booming. There are a lot of players entering the market, many with the same ideas. Both cannabis retail companies and ancillary businesses have an opportunity to stand out with logos that emblemize their values and their contribution to the industry, all without reverting to clichés.
The Basics of Cannabis Business Logo Design
If you’re looking to rebrand or you’re just considering your logo for the first time, there’s really only one step you need to take to get a great logo: Hire a professional.
Some of the best logos are the most simplistic, but just because they look unsophisticated, that doesn’t mean a great deal of thought didn’t go into them. Most companies go through several iterations with their designers before settling on a logo, so don’t hesitate to invest a decent amount of money in your project and request multiple options.
That said, it helps to know a little bit about design before you start working on a logo, even if you’re hiring a professional. Here are a few basic design elements for you to consider:
One of the most common design faux pas is the tendency to fill up as much negative space as possible. Logically, it might make sense. You want to use up every inch of your canvas to convey meaning.
But in practice, filling up negative space can make your logo feel cluttered. When there’s too much going on, it’s difficult to get your message across.
Instead, you can create shapes with negative space or provide emphasis. These days, most logos are uploaded to the web as PNG files with transparent backgrounds. Whatever field the logo is placed upon, whether it’s a white background or a colored one, that field becomes the logo’s negative space.
Some brands use basic shapes for their logo, then let the negative space do the talking. Just take a look at the logo of Burnwell, a company that sells cannabis products:
Although you can’t see it in the image, the background is actually a video playing on repeat. The Burnwell “B” is easy to recognize, even though there are no lines to signify the typography. It’s a brilliant use of negative space that makes for a dramatic effect when you first see their website.
You can use lines to divide space, make connections, and even create stylish objects. You also need to consider the thickness of your lines and what that represents about your brand. You may choose to have no lines at all in your logo, or you may want to make your logo entirely out of lines.
Take a look at Lunchbox Alchemy’s logo:
(Source: Lunchbox Alchemy)
Lunchbox Alchemy is a company that sells edible cannabis products (such as gummies). By using the color pink and drawing a lunchbox out of lines, they’re portraying themselves as a fun company that fits right into the cannabis lifestyle.
You can use lines in a minimalist fashion, like above, or you can use lines to create elaborate designs. It all depends on how you want your customers to identify with your brand.
Colors are perhaps the most powerful (and most hotly debated) branding element, and for good reason. People respond to colors in significant ways because they have an inherent psychological impact. In one study, researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color, depending on the product.
Keep in mind that poor use of color can harm your brand. If your logo is difficult to look at or if it strains the eyes, it can affect how people perceive your business.
Most designers rely on color theory to decide what colors to use in their client’s logos. According to studies, specific colors can equate to specific emotions. This is due in part to cultural conditioning. We’re passively trained to associate colors with actions, concepts, and instructions.
For example, most people associate the color red with urgency and the need to stop, and the color green with health, tranquility, and nature, or the need to go. Of course, color is still subjective, so use your best instincts and ask for a second or third opinion before settling on colors.
Leafly, a cannabis information website, uses three colors in its logo to reflect its three-color identification system for cannabis. Purple is for Indica, maroon is for Sativa, and green is for hybrid cannabis plants:
Together, the colors serve two purposes: They help to establish Leafly’s unique brand colors, which are playful but approachable, and they help customers easily identify strains of cannabis while making purchasing decisions.
Shapes and Symbols
Shapes and Symbols are some of the most commonly used elements in brand logos. They are also some of the most diverse.
That said, there are three basic types of shapes:
- Geometric: squares, circles, and triangles
- Organic: shapes that represent objects in the world
- Abstract: subjective representations of objects, concepts, or emotions
Symbols typically fall into the abstract category. Although they are not generally representations of actual objects, they do elicit a psychological response by association. Take Phylos Bioscience’s logo, for example:
(Source: Phylos Bioscience)
Their symbol is geometric, incorporating lines, leaf-like shapes, and the color green. By combining these elements, Phylos creates a sense of a specific concept which relates to what they do. Specifically, they are a team of scientists and cultivators working “to create the next generation of hemp, recreational, and medical cannabis,” according to their website.
Again, what this symbol represents may be subjective, but you could say it represents “order created from nature,” which is fitting for what the company does.
If you’re new to the cannabis industry, it’s probably in your best interest to include text in your logo — usually your business name.
Using nothing but shapes, images, or symbols for your logo might seem like a hip thing to do, but it can also be the equivalent of the Beatles releasing the White Album — the only reason that worked for them was because the band was already world-famous.
If you aren’t already well-known, it’s going to be hard for people to know what you do by looking at a shape, a symbol, or a collection of colors.
Consider what this medical cannabis dispensary did with their logo using typography:
(Source: Seven Point)
Seven Point uses a modern-looking typeface to brand themselves as a forward-thinking company. They even included a period at the end of their logo for emphasis. And even though they don’t use any images that relate to cannabis, their name itself is a reference to the seven points of the iconic cannabis leaf.
Nonetheless, if you look around, you’ll see plenty of cannabis brands operating without typography in their logos. The choice is yours.
Build Your Cannabis Brand with a Great Logo
Designing a remarkable logo is just one part of the branding process. Before you can successfully market your cannabis business, you need to identify what your brand stands for and make decisions about granular details, such as the fonts and colors you use on your website, the language you use in your content, and the experience you want your customers to have when they engage with you.
If you’re finally ready to realize your true brand identity, contact ReadyGreen today to learn more about our all-in-one branding packages. We can help you create a logo, choose color palettes, establish brand guidelines, and even create business cards.