As the U.S. continues to legalize the use, cultivation, and sales, of both medicinal and recreational cannabis, industry brands and related businesses are encouraged to get to grips with a more sophisticated approach to branding and marketing.
One area that has the power to create a huge impact on the brand-consumer relationship, but which often gets overlooked, is the choice of font. Fonts play an integral role in all brand communication, from packaging and logo design to website and social media campaign content.
A brand voice can be seen as well as heard
We don’t doubt for a second that the average cannabis brand has already spent time deliberating over a range of visual elements and photography styles to be used on all brand material, both on and offline. But, how many cannabis brands, launching their products and services today, stop to take a look at fonts in more detail?
Make no mistake. Fonts have the power to convey and strengthen brand identity. By carefully selecting the fonts used, a brand can begin to curate its voice and create that all-important connection with its target audience. For example,
1. Classic fonts
A family that’s been growing cannabis on the same farm for decades will probably want to craft a visual identity that focuses on legacy, and so it would make sense to invest in a classic serif font to match.
2. Display fonts
Brands that hope to attract consumers with the promise of a high impact THC experience, might opt for a powerful display font to help establish that bold connection.
And don’t forget, any brands growing or selling in the state of California now need to stay clear of decorative or script fonts that could be argued as being appealing to children. So, how does a brand go about choosing the right kind of font to match its core identity and purpose?
The big six
While it might seem like there’s an endless array of fonts to choose from, most can be slotted into one of six style groups: serif, sans serif, slab, script, monospace and display, which is also sometimes referred to as decorative.
Serif and sans serif are the two most important font groups to get to grips with. Indeed, serif is probably the oldest style of font in use, with written records of it dating all the way back to the 5th century BC. Serif fonts are characterized by a distinguished combination of thick and thin lines and are most commonly associated with luxury brands and luxury industries. Giorgio Armani is one of the most famous luxury brands to don a modern serif font as its word mark logo.
Sans serif fonts, on the other hand, don’t have the little “feet” that serif fonts have. Nor do they combine the use of thin and thick lines. They ooze strength and clarity, making them perfect for brands with a modern appeal. Heavier styles can sometimes feel masculine and hard-working, while thinner sans serif fonts have a certain glamor and nobility about them. The Facebook work mark logo is a clear example of a heavy sans serif font in action.
And what about font hierarchy?
On top of selecting the type of font that best reflects brand identity, it’s also important to consider the impact that font hierarchy can have on a brand’s ability to communicate efficiently and with purpose. A packaging design, for example, is likely to exhibit at least three different fonts or font styles at once: one for the name of the product, one for the name of the brand, and one for detailed information about the product, the package contents, and/or the ingredients. Most logos designs tend to incorporate the use of two different fonts, or font styles: one for the product name and another for the tagline.
Successful font hierarchy is all about contrast. This logo, designed for Humboldt County Indoor (HCI), offers a clear demonstration of font hierarchy at its best. The entire brand name is written in the same sans serif font, but special mention is given over to “indoor” farming techniques by simply employing a change in font size for emphasis.
Two examples of fonts we’ve chosen for our clients
Native Humboldt Farms
Native Humboldt Farms has been cultivating on the same farm for many years and feels a deep connection to the land and its history, which is why a classic serif font seemed most suitable for their branding needs.
Satva Botanicals, on the other hand, needed an elegant font to match the stylish nature of their hemp skincare and aromatherapy products. A traditional serif font would have been too classical for this brand, which is why we went for a glyphic serif. Glyphic serifs emulate inscriptions and can be distinguished by their triangular-shaped serif designs. The difference in size and the added bold feature of SATVA is all that was needed to proportion a font hierarchy that works.
What about font trends in the cannabis industry?
With luxury brands leaning toward serif fonts and forceful corporates squeezing out the potential of the sans serif group, are there any indications that the cannabis industry might be drawn to a certain style of font as time moves on?
Out of all the possible directions that cannabis fonts could take, two seem to dominate: premium, yet affordable indulgence, followed by wellness-supporting. The decorative and sans serif fonts that we’re accustomed to seeing on health food products, work really well with edibles and topicals. Similarly, the classic serif, used to denote a sense of luxury, is both popular and effective. So, if any two font styles were to reign in the cannabis industry, we’d place our bets on premium quality and wellness-supporting. Time will tell.