Commentary

CBD Branding Evolution: What Marketers Need to Know

It’s official: CBD -- which lacks the psychoactive ingredient (THC) that causes a “high” sensation -- is the global wellness trend du jour, inspiring the launch of thousands of new brands online and in mainstream retail outlets from Sephora to Walmart. 

While an increase in cannabis products began to emerge a few years ago, in 2020, CBD-specific design work on our platform spiked 61% over the past 12 months alone.

As we see the CBD industry evolve (and start creating high-end lifestyle brands pretty enough for Instagram) the marketing of these products has shifted, along with the target demographic. Here are just a few of the key trends defining this new wave of cannabis-infused branding:  


Luxury packaging
One of the biggest shifts in this second wave of cannabis-infused products is that, as an ingredient, CBD often doesn’t take center stage visually. This new generation of companies have begun to reject the stereotypical medicinal (“Rx”) tropes of THC-forward products and have moved toward a slick, more aspirational aesthetic.

A focus on holistic wellness rather than strict medicinal applications is key, and packaging design is sophisticated, taking inspiration from classic cosmetic brands and other luxury goods. Examples of this can be seen everywhere from the beautifully illustrated
beauty products of Saint Jane, to Equilibria's’s slick subscription box service, and even Lord Jones’ packaging for premium gummy candies that at first glance could easily pass for luxury chocolate boxes.  

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Pared-back minimalism
Another popular branding direction for CBD marketers -- on the opposite end of the floral, feminine look of some beauty brands -- is a streamlined, modern and minimalist aesthetic such as that of packaging by Aurelian and Standard Dose. The effect is the same, however, in terms of creating a distinctly high-end aesthetic for lifestyle products that target affluent and discerning consumer groups with disposable incomes.

Feminine overtones
Another notable trend in this space is the move away from the typical bold, green designs of the first wave of cannabis brands toward a softer, feminine look. The heavy use of pink and peach pastel shades alongside floral designs specifically targets a younger female consumer base. Recess, with its CBD and hemp-infused sparkling water in beautiful pastel-shade cans, is a blatant example of this trend; while FealsCBD oils take a similarly young and slightly feminine approach, with the use of a sunny orange palette and friendly approachable font.  

Light-hearted copy
The increased societal acceptance of CBD and cannabis products is even giving some brands the confidence to go down a decidedly humorous and light-hearted road in their marketing. Take for example these 
Sunday Scaries vegan CBD gummies with vitamins (with the name Vegan AF) or these dog biscuits from The Cannabis Co. which include the tagline, “may lead to extreme good looks,” punctuated by a happy canine face. 

For marketers and entrepreneurs looking to launch or rebrand a CBD product in 2020, the good news is that the creative door has opened wider than ever. If you embrace these more up-to-date interpretations and steer clear of tired clichés with negative connotations, the possibilities are endless.

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