Green or no Green? Should cannabis companies use green brand colors?

October 25, 2016

Color Strategy For Successful Cannabis Marketing

By CJ Powell, Writer

If you live in a cannabis-friendly state like Colorado, you know that recreational or medical marijuana advertisements are usually green. Green logos, green product, green typeface, and, of course, the green cross that plays off the iconic red first-aid cross.

Apparently, green is good as gold in the legal cannabis industry. But should it be? Should new cannabis brands—growers, dispensaries, and ancillary cannabis companies—use green as a primary brand color?

I interviewed Jesse Pixler, one of our talented creative directors, about marijuana advertisements to get the green gospel on color choice in the cannabis industry.

Let’s get straight to it. When it comes to Cannabis, to green or not to green?

For me, color is determined by emotion and your brand and what you’re trying to communicate. Even in a saturated industry like marijuana—where every other brand is built on green—it still should always come down to emotion and color psychology. For a feeling of healthy or calmness, green could be a solution for you.

But would you ever push a cannabis client away from green in advertising or branding?

When we work with cannabis clients, we do encourage the process of color exploration outside of green because it’s so saturated with it right now. They’re tired of seeing the color green, they’re tired of the marijuana leaf. How are you ever going to stand out with another green marijuana brand? During the color exploration, you can also help by changing the hue and tone of the green, skew it a little more blue or emerald or chartreuse.

Are there any other color-saturated industries like cannabis?

Healthcare and blue. You see that a lot. Or in areas where you want to be seen as affordable, you see a lot of yellow and orange. Payless Shoes, Payless Car Rental car, etc. Those colors evoke a sense of being affordable.

Red you see a lot in fast food. Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, KFC. There are a ton of red fast food brands. I don’t know if it’s because we’re blood-sucking beasts or what, but I read once that if you put a blue light bulb in your refrigerator you won’t eat as much. Color psychology.

What about the product? Would you encourage cannabis clients to show their flower or concentrates in advertisements?

I would not, but it depends on the client. We had a client once that said the marijuana leaf is evil looking, and he didn’t want to show it. “I don’t want my brand to be associated with it.”

Or we one time had a client that really wanted to make sure its customers knew they had more than just product, and in that case we discouraged them from ever showing the product. Instead, we aimed to have their brand be larger than product.

Let’s go back to restaurants as an example. You don’t have to show the food at a restaurant. You instead can show what the food makes you feel because foods and taste preference are subjective. It’s the same with marijuana strains. Taste profile is subjective, so why even bother focusing on one specific product image?

I’m going to make up a cannabis company: Fortunate Flower. It specializes in very high-end recreational cannabis flower and product—think Nordstrom, Mercedes, Johnny Walker Blue Label, etc. This is a status/elite brand, and maybe it partners with executive concierge services around town for referrals. How would you begin thinking through a color palette for Fortunate Flower?

As a designer, you start to paint pictures in your head automatically. What goes in my head immediately is, “Serif font or a san serif font? How are we going to use the colors? What type of luxury are we talking about?”

For example, you don’t usually associate bright colors with luxury. A lot of times, bright colors will take away from the luxury element. But I’ve found you can actually use bright colors in luxury if you do it right. Look at Coach, Louis Vuitton, etc. You have the classic black or patent leather, but then you throw something like bright gold or platinum or silver on top of it with a measured pop of color. But you have to be careful not to be playful. Playful can take away from the luxury.

It also depends on what level of luxury. There’s the high end, top 1% type luxury. Totally unattainable but aspirational. There’s the luxury that’s just out of reach and only even a thought on very special occasions. There’s the luxury that is basically attainable but still holds an air of class and sophistication.

All of these things come into play when you’re designing for luxury brands. Even in cannabis.

So interesting. How about another example? Securijuana, the cannabis industry’s newest and most effective private security company. When you partner with Securijuana, your money, product, and employees are instantly safer than they’ve ever been before. Go, Jesse, GO! 

Blue and black is what immediately comes to mind. You see that a lot in security. Pairing black with a trusting color like blue. Sometimes security companies will throw a yellow in there because yellow elicits caution: Watch out! When we do our brand work at COHN, we start with keywords, and we’ll design from there. That’s how you make the connection between what a brand is and how a brand will look visually. Translating the words and sentences and stories that make up a brand and bringing them to life visually through color and design.

Anything else our readers should know about cannabis advertising? 

Ha—Yes! I want our readers to know they should work with us. The cannabis industry is crazy and wild right now, and you need a partner that can help you focus your marketing and advertising goals. I’m happy to meet with those types of clients and help them navigate the world of color psychology and brand marketing. Have the readers give us a call, even if it’s just to talk shop. We’ll find the right solution for them.

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