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Is This What a Legalized Marijuana Brand Would Look Like?

Designers from Pentagram have a smart solution for branding weed, should it become legal in California after next week's passage of Proposition 19.

As Proposition 19 nears possible passage next week, the marijuana industry in California has been examining the branding implications for their nearly-legal wares. Designers have been dreaming up imaginary weed brands for years—I like this one from Print, which features four concepts—but now designers may have to get serious about advertising and marketing marijuana for potential clients. Actually, that part's already happening: Just check out the sexy dispensary architecture of Sparc, in San Francisco.

This week, Pentagram designers Eddie Opara and Frank LaRocca accepted the challenge to brand legal weed for Newsweek, and what I like about what they did is that it doesn't have any of the old, stereotypical visual cues associated with stoners: you know, the green cross, the five-pointed leaf...the blacklight posters. They also created a range of potential products, like edibles, that address the various ways that people would want to use legalized marijuana.

Opara and LaRocca did something especially smart in that they chose a particular strain—Northern Lights—and envisioned the campaign being built around this "brand" of marijuana that already exists. Serious smokers already have an allegiance to strains like Purple Haze or White Widow, and if their certain is branded appropriately in the marketplace, they'll be more likely to buy it. For example, Northern Lights (reportedly) provides a "humorous and crazy" high, which the designers tried to capture in their work.

You can see more images from the campaign as well as some ideas from New York design firm Mother. What do you think? Is this effective branding for weed?

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