Cannabis Packaging is Boring, Let's Make it Better.
Updated: May 11
The Canadian Cannabis industry is highly regulated with marketing, distribution, and packaging all tightly controlled. These restrictions make creating and building brands difficult. Often the first tangible experience a consumer will have with a Cannabis brand will be when they leave the store with packaging in-hand. Within this sector, the importance of well-designed packaging goes beyond safety because it serves to set the tone for the product and experience to come.
As the Cannabis industry matures and more brands are created and launched, consumer expectations will increase and packaging will need to be memorable, aspirational, and communicative. To help catalyze this change, Burning Tree and Proto3000 have partnered to reimagine how Cannabis vanity packaging could be designed and manufactured.
The Canadian Cannabis packaging landscape is a sea of generic black and white bags, jars, and tubes. Aside from a small printed logo, the brands are indistinguishable from one another. Whether it is viewed on social media, photographed on a brand’s website, behind a display case, or in a consumers hands, the packages are all lackluster and banal.
How did we get here?
The stringent Canadian packaging regulations in this area are often pointed to as the primary cause. But it is also more complicated than that: it is expensive to design custom packaging. All packages must be tested for child-resistance, tooling is capital intensive, and production volumes are hard in a small domestic market. These are a few of the reasons why LPs and Cannabis recreational brands more often choose off the shelf packaging.
Can this be improved within the current framework?
The simple answer is yes. While Cannabis retail packaging is the most restrictive, Vanity packaging, the packaging seen in social media, on websites, and in display cases falls outside most of the retail regulations. Further, rapid manufacturing techniques can be used to create parts in hours and without the massive expense normally associated with large scale packaging projects.
To help catalyze change in Cannabis packaging, Burning Tree and Proto3000 have partnered together to explore what Cannabis packaging could look like if world-class packaging design services and rapid manufacturing tools were utilized. We chose 4 recreational brands available across Canada: Solei, Tantalus, Fireside, and Cove. These brands were selected because they are well established, have social media and websites with lots of content to draw from, and all appeal to different segments of the population.
The case study is intended to reach the stakeholders in each LP and prompt them to evaluate their existing vanity packaging and how they could do better. Secondary objectives include showcasing Burning Tree’s design capability in translating the intangible elements of a brand into tangible products. Finally, for Proto3000, the intention is to branch out into the Cannabis industry to drive growth. All the above also was balanced against real world constraints of functional packaging needs and the restrictive regulations some of which apply to vanity packaging.
The result are packaging concepts which are highly functional, communicate the brands clearly, and are aspirational. Much like a concept car, they are meant to inspire, but can’t be driven off the lot. We believe these concept designs would pass all required CRSE standards and Federal directives on packaging standards, but as they are vanity packaging, they are not required too. We have also intentionally limited the scope of the packaging to dried flower. The concepts shown have been designed to fit up to 3.5g of dried flower.
The Solei bottle sits at a slight angle to the ground evoking sunlight pouring down from above. A bright lid has integrated grips for easy opening and which conjure the sun’s rays. The yellow brand colours are used on the cap, and in the tinted yellow translucent of the jar.
The most adventurous design of the case study, we took the strong, minimal black diamond logo of Tantalus and realized it as a complex 3D form. By taking a diamond shape, extruding and revolving it, carving off the corners by adding facets and edges we created a unique embodiment of the brand recognizable from any angle. This unique shape begs exploration as a single unit and when merchandised, allows for a complex, faceted undulating surface.
The Wave packaging plays with the soft wave shape from the logo and reimagines it as a gentle waveform on the lid. When merchandised side by side, a continuous wave pattern emerges. The deep blues are used both on the lid and the tinted clear plastic jar. While the simplest of the case study packages, the one is easily the most communicative of the brand imagery.
Playing with the outdoor imagery of the brand, the container becomes a simplified fire pit. The black plastic jar becomes the cast iron firepit and the lid becomes the simplified, modern flame. Fireside’s branding emerges through the use of primary and secondary colour used on the jar and lid.
To produce these packages, Proto3000 used one of the most advanced 3D printers available. Capable of printing in full colour, clear, frosted, tinted, and integrating the labels directly on the containers made it the best machine for the job. From 3D file handoff to Proto3000, the builds only took 12 hours to have a completed set in hand. This advanced production process is highly responsive to allow for rapid deployment of packages within days. From a single package for a photoshoot, a set for a LP sales rep, or enough to merchandise 40 retailers across the country, rapid manufacturing can flex to produce as many as would be required, on demand.
Are you wondering if any LPs are starting to invest in desirable, memorable, and exciting vanity packaging? The answer is yes. We are already helping them bring their brands to life through vanity and retail ready packaging. Let us help your brand stand out from the sea of black and white bags, tubes, and jars. Email or call to book a consultation.