Cannabis(image via

Tech Insider recently highlighted the winners of a competition hosted by Surface Magazine to try to re-brand fictitious medical marijuana products with the purpose of showing ways that it can be done so that it will help to make it be taken more seriously. Part of this challenge was to focus less on the leaf, and more on the merchandise being created from it. These made-up products ran the gamut from a marijuana ‘additive’ for foods (think ketchup packets) to a cannabis condiment that can be sprinkled on top of food;

Examples(Okay by Base Design in New York, Sprankles by the design firm Franklyn)

The article states that, according to USPTO records, 44% of logos that weed-related businesses currently use have the marijuana leaf featured prominently. They show that this overuse of the leaf has led to it being seen as a cliché, and as the marijuana industry has gone from black market to a $5.4 billion business, it needs to work on branding the products made from marijuana, not just being dependent on the imagery of the leaf itself.

The original concept handed to a group of design firms was to show “…the intended use case of the product or the characteristics of the target demographic” instead of relying on what many see as an overused icon.

Tech Insider quotes a sociologist at Northern Arizona University, James I. Bowie, who wrote that “The problem with the leaf in a marijuana business logo is that it is so commonly used that it acts as a symbol of merely the general category, rather than of the specific brand.”

The outcome of this competition showed that it was possible to make individual products representative of what they are, without resorting to a well-known image that’s been exhausted.



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