Behind the Design for Bloom Farms Luxurious Cannabis Hand Rolls
by Theresa Christine Johnson on 02/27/2017 | 5 Minute Read
When Bloom Farms first approached Pavement nearly three years ago, Michael Hester, Principal & Creative Director, felt hesitant to take on this new client. Cannabis was (and arguably still is) a bit of a polarizing subject. By working with Bloom Farms, the agency has helped pave the way for more luxury cannabis items that don’t rely on the stoner stereotype, including these elegant hand rolls. We chatted with Mike about working with packaging that has such a small surface area, cannabis regulations, and the process for expanding the brand.
Walk us through the design process that you went through for this project.
Pavement: For quite some time, we had been discussing with Bloom Farm’s founder Mike Ray how we could potentially leverage the success of their Highlighter product into new product ventures. When it was finalized that Bloom Farms would be launching a new Hand Roll product, the design process started by determining just how the product would tie into the main brand and the Highlighter product. Rather than it being a straight line extension, we knew we wanted it to stand on it’s own, but still have an obvious tie to the Highlighter product branding. Initial design studies focused on playing with the existing brand elements in different and deconstructed ways to determine just how far we could “push” the brand. A unique packaging structure was also explored. After an extensive, multi-round exploration, and several product changes that required rethinking both the structure and the graphic applications multiple times, we landed on an abstract and simple interpretation of the original brand that highlighted the purity and craftsmanship of the product.
What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve with Blooms Farms individual cannabis rolls packaging and how did you accomplish it?
Pavement: The biggest goal was to leverage the success of the Highlighter product. We wanted to instantly attract loyal Bloom Farms customers with this new product. We did this by using familiar elements, but in unexpected ways, so that the product felt differentiated but instantly recognizable.
How did you balance expanding the brand while also keeping the look and feel consistent with existing products?
Pavement: We definitely wanted to create a product that felt differentiated from the Highlighter, but it had to maintain similar elements for brand recognition. We knew we couldn’t use all of the brand elements, so we chose to focus on maintaining the lotus/cannabis leaf logo mark. Because of the small surface area on the primary display panel for the Hand Roll as compared to the Highlighter, we chose to bleed the logo onto the side panels to maximize the brand’s impact in the limited space we had. This created a nice abstracted effect to the brand that instantly differentiated it while still being recognizable.
What was the most challenging part of this project?
Pavement: It was definitely the awkward aspect ratio and painfully small size of the primary display panel. There is only so much you can do to create a brand on a panel that is a ½ inch wide and 5 times as tall.
If you could pick one aspect of the finished design that you like the most or feel especially proud of, what would it be and why?
Pavement: We love how we transformed the actual logo without really transforming it at all, if that makes sense. I feel like we took full advantage of opportunity on a very small package. And just from a pure aesthetic standpoint, we love the foil and paper color combinations. The gold foil on putty colored paper might be our favorite. And we love that you can line up and turn the boxes to create a fully realized logo.
Cannabis is still a relatively new industry, and laws vary state to state—what rules/regulations did you have to follow?
Pavement: The medical cannabis industry in California is surprisingly unregulated. It’s really up to the company and their lawyers to determine what is best practice when presenting the product to their public. Bloom Farms has always maintained the highest integrity by properly listing the dosages and all the legal disclaimers to signify that this is a medical product that should not be abused or fall into the hand of minors.
With the passage of Proposition 64, which legalized cannabis for recreational use in California starting in 2018, I think you’re going to see a lot more rules and regulations, especially in the area of child-proofing of packaging. That is going to be a huge obstacle all packaging designers are going to need to tackle moving forward.
Any advice for those interested in branching out into packaging for cannabis products?
Pavement: First, keep an open mind. When we first presented with the opportunity to work with Bloom Farms almost 3 years ago now, we were initially hesitant for the obvious reasons. We were not sure if we wanted to involve our livelihood in such a polarizing product. Then once the work was completed, we were not sure if it was a good idea to showcase the work out of fear of alienating new or existing clients. But in saying yes to both, we opened ourselves up to an entirely new channel of work in an industry that is set to explode in the near future.
Second, avoid the obvious clichés associated with cannabis. I think especially here in California a lot of a taboos associated with cannabis are disappearing, so the need to attract and identify with a larger, more diverse audience is essential.
Share one lesson that you learned while developing the finished product.
Pavement: Simple is always better.