“Design is where science and art break even.”

Consumers make instinctual purchase choices, and your packaging is a leading factor in how those choices are made. How something looks, feels, smells — its impact is immeasurable. You’ve spent precious time and money creating your cannabis product, but what are the next steps? How do you create a package that moves to people to action?

Too often business owners struggle with their packaging decisions, never able to find the profitable middle ground between being too basic and too elaborate. They often rush through the process, not taking the time to get into a creative mindset while making decisions. Packaging in itself is an art form and it’s essential that you put your creative hat on when making packaging decisions.

I want to walk you through my process of designing cannabis packaging to help showcase your product. As a thirty year creative with some of the world’s largest brands, this process has led to some of my most memorable packages.

Gather all your packaging options

Designing proper packaging for your product is nearly impossible without gathering your options and ordering physical samples. We associate value with the weight and feel of products, so having a sample is essential as a first step in making decisions. Do not make the critical mistake of assuming your cannabis packaging works because you saw it on a computer monitor. Your consumer will be holding, lifting, examining your package when they purchase, so you need to do that as well.  

When you have your options in hand, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What message am I trying to share?
  • Who am I trying to share this message with?
  • What are the values of my company? Are we fun? High-end? Educational? Does this package align with that value?
  • What does this packaging reveal about my product?
  • Does the material suggest significance and separate me from other products in the market?

Print out your layout and live with it

If your product mockups are available, print them up in different sizes and place them on your packaging. Use your style guide and play with different elements of your layouts. Carry these items around with you and ask yourself the following:

  • Does this packaging get the attention it needs in different environments?
  • Does this packaging inspire me and emotionally connect me to this product?  
  • Does it have the same impact on me at different times of the day? 

Consumers will go through different moods and experiences throughout the day, and you want to make sure your packaging transcends this factor and is appealing at all times. Buying products is deeply emotional for people, so making sure your packaging connects with them is essential to your product’s success.

For example: if your product is something intimate and sensual, your packaging needs to be that as well. Consider Foria, whose cardstock boxes are made from touché paper that is soft and buttery to the touch.

Walk your packaging off to potential retailers

Feedback is crucial when making packaging decisions. It’s often difficult as a business owner to see past our own evaluations of our product, so going into your intended market space and getting feedback is an amazing opportunity to discover opportunities for better packaging. Talk to the store manager. Talk to potential costumers. Ask yourself and your consumers:

  • Does your packaging fit where you intend to sell it?
  • Do your consumers understand what you are marketing?
  • Are there opportunities to educate your consumer on how your product is different from other market options?  

Insight from people who will sell your product is incredibly beneficial. Listen to their suggestions and use their input to design better packaging. They know what works best in their stores. Most people are completely willing to provide their input.

Look at hidden messaging opportunities

Increasing the value of your packaging increases the overall value of your product and brand. Study your packaging, including all of its elements, and divide it into pieces to better highlight messaging opportunities. Subtle details can make all the difference.

For example, if you have a value-added item such as a button, you can use the underside of the button to imprint your website, a hidden message to your consumer, or have a promotional call to action. That underside of the button is an imprintable area called the “curl” and offers another opportunity for consumer messaging.

Some questions to ask yourself while finding hidden value:

  • Is there a clever message I can add on the inside of my packaging?
  • Is there a 3D item I could add for additional value?  (examples include a tiny silver spoon for concentrates, a printed foldout, a calendar, or a tracker)
  • How can I use the space to educate my audience?

Cannabis packaging is a creative process. When you are committed to being in a creative space, your packaging will come to life and begin to work for your product. You and your product need to stand out from the clutter. Discover your opportunities and you’re on your way.

Remember: go as far as you can see, and when you get there you’ll see further.


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