noah samson

How to Build a Cannabis Brand

Noah Samson

As a Humboldt County native and owner of a successful design & printing business, Noah Samson has built the logos and concepts for some of the region’s biggest brands. The ‘green rush’ is in full force, and the amount of cannabis-inspired companies are increasing every day. Samson shares his tips on how to design your company’s look.

The cannabis industry is about to be gigantic, and it’s going to get way more diverse as the old, ridiculous stigmas dry up. As this market grows, local brands will need to find what sets them apart from the rest of the state and the country.

My business started small, but it grew quickly by word of mouth. I grew up here in the culture of the Emerald Triangle, and I’ve helped to brand and design for both cannabis and conventional businesses for almost a decade here. I help entrepreneurs find their voice.

“I always use the bicycle wheel comparison. The logo is the hub at the center, and every spoke that stems out may be a different touchpoint: social media, packaging, print collateral, web design, clothing, brochures, etc.

I tell my clients to do something different. Do something better. If you want to beat someone at the same game, don’t do what they’re doing. Look ahead and see what else is new. Look at brands outside of your world — food production, boutique perfumes, high fashion, action sports,  etc. — find where others have already achieved success.

Look for inspiration outside of the industry, especially when it comes to cannabis. Just because you’ve seen other brands with a logo that depicts a scene of a pretty farm, that’s not the only way you can go. You can do anything.



Look outside of the cannabis industry for eye-catching brands and logos that break the mold.

Distinct brands build revenue. Creating a great brand is all about finding unique themes that resonate. It starts with the title. In the cannabis industry specifically, people are thinking too much inside the box. They should draw inspiration from what brands have done right in other industries (such as those mentioned above.)

Expressing the personality of the business through its title and logo is important to set your company apart. I always use the bicycle wheel comparison. The logo is the hub at the center, and every spoke that stems out may be a different touchpoint: social media, packaging, print collateral, web design, clothing, brochures, etc. The way that we draw the fonts, the color palette, the way that it’s all presented, are dictated by the logo itself. So it’s all about the look and how it resonates.

The logo can’t work unless you have all your other touch points rock solid, and all relating to each other 100 percent. You can’t have any outliers or any weird random stuff. Especially in the first few years. The first few years are repetition, repetition, repetition. About the time that you’re sick of your own brand, other people are just starting to get it. In fact, you have to be sick of it… Repetition builds narrative which builds brand reputation.



Incorporate distinct designs that speak to the personality of the brand.

Your product can be the best in the world, but if the packaging doesn’t resonate with your prospective buyers, it won’t sell. People want to express themselves through the brands they buy. Everything that we buy helps tell the story about ourselves. So, it’s about seeing that — and making a visually appealing product.

Especially with cannabis industry clients. You also want your product to be direct. If I see your logo in passing, will I think ‘artificial flavoring’ or will I think ‘organically grown?’ If I pick up your package, what does it tell me about you? If the packaging is ugly, I expect to open it and find some ugly little brown nug in there. 



Design packages that are direct and labeled properly.

Some people compare cannabis to wine. I see cool branding in wine, but I also see a lot of the same regurgitated cursive fonts. An alternative, interesting market to look at is beer. The next time you are at the supermarket, look at the beer branding. It’s much more artistically driven and I often feel like it’s more diverse. You have some that are typography driven and others with crazy illustrations, textures and techniques. Those are super cool too.

With color, it’s good to be unique — but use restraint. Also, use complementary colors and get off the beaten path. Don’t think that because you’re dealing with a plant that it needs to be green. It doesn’t.

I just did a logo for a floral company using a deep blue and orange color combination. The way their packaging is going to look will be completely distinctive in the marketplace. The lettering, style and image are unique. But, more than that, they have the foresight to not just do two tones of green.

This is really how you thrive — not because of color schemes, but because you stand out in a crowded industry. Build an exclusive brand that leaves a lasting, beautifying mark on the mind of your customer.


Noah Samson is the owner of Visual Concepts in Arcata, California, a company responsible for some of the region’s most recognizable brands and logos, including Mad River Brewing Company and Emerald Family Farms. Visit them online at