How State Cannabis regulations effect Designers



Cannabis is starting to grab the attention of big design agency's. It is the industry of the future known as "the green rush" and as long as States can manage legalities, distribution, safety and public expectations without any federal government roll backs, it should continue nicely down this green paved road.

Just because this is a newly uncharted market doesn't mean every design agency or freelancer knows how to maneuver the many obstacles placed on designers by state regulations.

I have been designing Cannabis brands for the last 4 years and long gone are the days of Reefer Madness and  anti-marijuana propaganda. During that short time I have seen companies evolve their brands to fit the lifestyles of their consumers and I have seen many fail or miscalculate their efforts by not understanding the ever changing marketplace.

These regulations that are NOT standard across every state. So what is approved in Colorado may not work in Nevada. This makes it difficult for companies that are in one market and looking to bring their product to another state only to find out they will have to re-design all their packaging to meet new state regulations.

single case study

The 4 week design and state regulation process I have been going
through with a client of mine in Nevada. 

The regulations were established and then developed further within a 4 week period.

For purposes of this blog I will only be giving information regarding the design process for the labels and not the entire branding project.

1. First packaging label

Time Frame: 1 week to design and print.
State Regulations in Nevada at the time required:

  • Label must state in bold letter "THIS IS A MARIJUANA PRODUCT"
  • Label indicated servings of THC measure in max 10 mg with allowable 15% variance
  • Keep out of reach of Children
  • As required by "State reg. numbers"

Problem: The client has 5 different edible products that were differentiate only by the name c hange. This was confusing for the customer as all the packages looked the same.


2. Second packaging label

Time Frame: 1 week to design and print.
State Regulations in Nevada at the time required: Same as previous.

Solution to Problem: We decided to add a large image design element into the top corner of the labels to help differentiate the flavors. (Mint shown) We also removed the large edible text and replaced it with the flavor as well as matched every title color to the flavor. (Green for Mint)

Design Notes: This was our favorite label. I loved the large image and it really looked great when printed and on the dispensary shelves. BUT there was still one more state regulation meeting and things were about to change.

Along with making sure the packaging is meeting state regulations, we were also working very quickly to try and design a label that would make all the owners happy.


3. Third label

Time Frame: 1 week to design
State Regulations in Nevada at the time required: To many to list but these were the Big ones that effect designers..

  • Label must state in bold letter "THIS IS A MARIJUANA PRODUCT"
  • Label indicated EXACT servings of THC measure in max 10 mg with allowable 15% variance
  • Keep out of reach of Children
  • As required by "State reg. numbers"
  • Must not include images of fruit
  • No products in the form of lollipop or ice cream
  • No characteristics of real or fictional people, animals or fruit. Including cartoons or artistic renderings.
  • No Serif, decorative or whimsical fonts
  • No more than 2 fonts
  • No more than 3 colors
  • Avoid using marijuana slang term
  • Must include on the label

(a) The name of the marijuana establishment and its marijuana establishment license number; 

(b) The batch number; 

(c) The lot number; 

(d) The final date of harvest; 

(e) The date of final testing; 

(f) The date on which the product was packaged; 

(g) The cannabinoid profile and potency levels and terpenoid profile as determined by the marijuana testing facility, which may include the potential total THC but shall not include any other calculated level of THC; 

(h) If the product is perishable, the expiration date; and

(i) The quantity of marijuana being sold. 



Design: To keep the branding consistent, we had to remove all our images because some of our labels had fruit, like our Raspberry chews. We also had to remove the 100mg THC and leave room for a label to be adhered after testing that states the exact THC content. A large portion of the back label had to be reworked to accommodate a post testing label as well. 

For this client the restrictions to colors and font did not really apply but I currently have 4 other clients that I am having to re-design the labels for due to these requests.

Costs: It is not cheap to have to pay print and design fees for every changing requirement.

Process: Once a label, logo or sign is designed and approved by my client,  I then have to submit everything to the state for approval. A process that can take up to 30 days

Design Notes:  We added gradients to all the flavors to add dimension to the clean monochromatic labels.

This process has been quick and frustrating at times. The limitations put on designers in Nevada is staggering. Especially seeing what is coming out of Oregon and Washington, both recreational states. California is a brand beast with great design but I am waiting to see if once recreational sales start the state begins to tighten the regulations. 


4. Fourth and Final label

Time Frame: 1 day
A late approval letter from the State came in and we were happy with the decision. 

We submitted label 2 to the state BEFORE the new regulations regarding fruit were introduced. We were hopeful that the single raspberry image would not derail our label design efforts but just in case they came back with a NO-GO we designed label 3 and were moving forward with production.

It took the state 3 1/2 weeks to inform us of their decision but it was worth the wait and only to 1 day to update the design. Everyone is very happy with the end result and we can't wait to see these on the shelves in Nevada.

Do you have a cannabis design story you want to share?

The Importance of Visual Merchandising

Whether you own a retail space or have a product that occupies display space in a brick and mortar location, you know your brands reach extends beyond print, web or social media. Think about your last shopping experience at places like Sephora, Ulta or Whole foods. These retailers allow brands to create compelling visual merchandising and the brands know the value in eye catching displays that grab the consumers attention.

Success factors of visual merchandising include the store’s appearance, signage, lighting, uniforms, menus, point of sale material, color, shapes, textures, packaging, ticketing, presentation and the “wow” factor each of these elements bring together in a retail setting When these elements come together to showcase a brand, it enriches the customer experience, leading to a positive shopping experience and increased sales.

Here are seven important elements of visual merchandising.  They are easy to implement and won't break the bank and, most importantly, they will increase your sales.

1. Create a focal point or featured product.

Where does the viewer’s eye focus on your display?  Are they confused about where to look? Create a hotspot or focal point. Why? Because hotspots can increase sales by 229 percent.

Examine your display from the customer’s point of view: the top, the floor, both sides. Often the focal point is positioned too high for the customer to see. Always check your displays to ensure customers can easily view the hotspots and merchandise. Remember, the hotspot is the product, not a visual element you use to add to the story. By this I mean, if you put sand and seashells on the table as part of your sandal collection, make sure the sandals are the focal point and not the sand. 

2. Color is important

Color is powerful, and it can make or break your visual displays. Consider using contrasting colors, like black and white, and monochromatic colors--both create intriguing, eye-catching displays.

Too many times we lose sight of the power of color and its ability to attract the eye.  Consider your home. You probably have a solid grey or brown couch, but there is a "pop" of color from the throw pillows you place on the edges.

This is the same principle.  Remember: wherever the eyes go, the feet will follow. So use color to catch the eyes of your customers and draw them to your displays.

3. Tell YOUR story and get to the point.

This is your chance to get the customer acquainted with YOUR brand. Merchandising must be consistent across all platforms including in-store displays, your website and on social media. This ensures customer brand loyalty and also ensures that brand is going to deliver. In turn, the emotional connection a customer has with your brand is strengthened. Use your brands imagery, illustration, colors and fonts to grab their attention. Use powerful, sales-enabling signage to display the advantages of buying the product. Present a couple key points that tell customers why they need the product or how their life will become easier because of the product. Remember, you’re not writing an essay but rather a headline, and subhead with key points. and possibly a price proposition. By telling a story, you help the customer better understand the product and enable the buying decision.

A display may lack a worded sign or an educational sign. That’s perfectly fine; as long as there’s still a story, the sign can speak for itself.

For example, your brand's lifestyle graphics are very popular in telling the story. No words, but the image speaks volumes. 

4. Give customers to the maximum amount of merchandise.

A well-designed, impactful display exposes the customer to as much merchandise as possible while avoiding a sloppy mess. The more products customers see, the more they buy.

Consider using a circular store layout, which many retailers use. It’s powerful because it exposes customers to more merchandise than traditional aisles. Where your store does use aisles, place a display in dead center so customers are forced to stop and look at the products. Have as many displays as possible, and present as much merchandise as possible. But keep displays clean and sharp, and ensure aisles are spacious and barrier-free to prevent deterring customers from products.

5.  Use empty space wisely.

There’s a space in all retail stores that is the most underutilized. It’s the section between the displayed merchandise and the ceiling. If this space in your store is empty, you need to start using it.

You can use this space for many different things, like signage providing information about products or brands. You could display customer testimonials with the customer’s name and picture. You could profile a designer or supplier.

You could also display lifestyle graphics that help customers make associations with your products. For example, a furniture store could display an image of a family cozied up on a couch, emitting those warm, fuzzy feelings that put shoppers in a good mood. A Cannabis store could display a well dressed woman enjoying an edible, creating an association between the store’s products and a luxurious lifestyle.

6. Brands should offer three categories of merchandise.

Think of your merchandise as it would exist on a bell curve. On the right side of the curve lives expensive, prestigious merchandise that makes up 10% of your store’s/brands products. Every display needs these products (even if customers don’t always buy them) because they "wow" customers. On the left side of the curve lives the promotional merchandise, which also makes up 10% of your products. Every display needs these products (even if they don’t generate a lot of profit) because they also "wow" customers. In the middle of the curve lives your bread-and-butter merchandise—the products that generate the most profit.

Now, although most of you profit comes from the middle merchandise, customers talk mostly about the left and right-side products. This is why brands who remove the high and low-end products are making a huge mistake—they’re removing the products that generate word-of-mouth advertising for their business.  

In fashion, the high and low-end merchandise are referred to as the throw-away merchandise. Retailers don’t necessarily sell it, but this merchandise makes everything else look good.

7. A retailer's merchandise should last three months.

Why? Because seasons are three months long. This may change if you’re a big store like Sam’s who needs only about two weeks worth of merchandise at any given time. But if you’re a specialty retailer, you should carry three months worth. In terms of how much merchandise you need to turn a profit, you need to understand the open to thrive strategy.

Brand Enlightenment

Are you familiar with the term HUMAN BRAND? 

A HUMAN BRAND is a brand with a dose of empathy, flexibility and humor. 

People are looking to brands to evolve to a higher state of consciousness by taking real, meaningful, even painful, action to make their lives – and the world we share – better. It's the difference between being HUMAN and being ENLIGHTENED.

The irony here? Many customers are far from enlightened themselves! After all, they co-created this planet warming, sugar rushing, socially damaging mess we're in, right along with brands. And now, they're looking for brands to embrace ENLIGHTENMENT for them.

So what does an enlightened brand look like?

Remember Apple and their "Think Different" campaign or the Nike "Just Do It" ads? Enlightened brands remain authentic while telling their story in a way that benefits the consumer on a deeper level. They are able to build a rapport and tell you WHY they do what they do instead of just What they do but then they go further and create bonds through meaningful engagement and customer service that goes hand in hand with the quality of the products,

Enlightened brands are:

RESTLESS: That means they're forever in search of new ways to make the world a better place, and to hold themselves to higher standards of fairness and responsibility.

EMPATHETIC: That means understanding and addressing customer pain points and working to make individual lives easier, faster, and more fun.

DEMANDING: Making individual lives better can also mean pushing consumers to overcome their human flaws, and become the people they want to be.

The truth is that in 2017, few brands are anywhere near true ENLIGHTENMENT. Most are deeply mired in ego. But any business can learn from the major brands that are taking their first steps, and the startups introducing the kind of ENLIGHTENED innovations that all brands should be working on!

Enlightened Brands are Engaged Brands.

It takes more than just a good product that is sustainable or organic. Those are important qualities but enlightenment comes from engagement and giving back to the communities that support your brand. Some samples are:


Telecoms company announces worldwide maternity pay guarantee

One powerful way for big brands to move closer to ENLIGHTENMENT? Let change start from the inside by creating a fairer, more equal or simply more fun, internal culture. In March 2015, Vodafone announced that it would implement a worldwide minimum level of maternity pay. All female staff will be entitled to 16 weeks of maternity leave on full pay, plus full pay for a 30-hour week for the first six months after their return to work. Vodafone claims the move will help staff who work in countries with little or no legal provision for maternity pay. The telecoms company employs around 100,000 people in 30 countries.

Diario ABC Color

Paraguayan newspaper launches free journalism school

ENLIGHTENMENT can mean empowering customers to realize their dreams of doing good in the world. In March 2015, Paraguayan newspaper Diario ABC Color launched two educational courses aimed at introducing the next generation to journalism. The free courses are held every Saturday, and students learn how to write news and opinion pieces and conduct interviews. Participating children also contribute to the Young Journalism newspaper, and radio channel Habemus Mess.

Gramming for Good & Gramforacause

Startups pair Instagrammers with nonprofits

Empowering consumers to do good in the world is a powerful way for an organization to show it understands ENLIGHTENMENT. In April 2015, Gramming for Good and Gramforacause launched platforms intended to connect socially conscious Instagrammers with nonprofits. The platforms want to help nonprofits spread the word about their work via relevant photography, and when matching photographers to organizations, will consider the type of photography sought by the nonprofit and the expected rate of pay.

Art Series Hotel Group

Guests reviewed online by hotel staff in return for discounts

Being DEMANDING can mean finding innovative new ways to improve customer behavior, creating an improved experience for everyone. In April 2015, Australia’s Art Series Hotel Grouplaunched Reverse Reviews: a promotion giving guests the chance to obtain discounts and upgrades in return for being reviewed. People staying at any of the group’s boutique hotels could opt in to take part, with their behavior and demeanor being ranked and reviews then published online. Any guests who gained ratings over four stars were rewarded with complimentary food and beverages, stays or upgrades.


Rescue dogs save festival goers from dying mobile devices

A step towards ENLIGHTENMENT can mean addressing even the smallest of first world problems, and in so doing making customers feel cared for. Visitors to the SXSW festival in March 2015 were saved from low cellphone battery life by St. Bernard rescue dogs. US battery pack manufacturer Mophieteamed up with the St. Bernard Rescue Foundation for the mophieRescue service. To have their batteries saved, attendees needed to send to a tweet to the brand with a screenshot of their battery icon and their current location, along with the hashtag #mophieRescue.

If you are a brand that is working towards enlightenment remember these key facts.

Good leadership motivates good people to make a good product. Be really clear as to what you want people to know about you. If you don't know what makes you different or special no one else is going to know.

Connect your brand deeper into people’s hearts and minds (that drives loyalty and sales); but not by manipulating those hearts and minds, but inspiring and empowering them. This is growth at one with the people; not at the expense of their ‘thrivability’.

Branding, Logo & Identity Difference

A lot of people don’t know the differences between branding, identity, and logo. In fact, most people are not even bothered about this as they erroneously assume that your logo is your brand and vice versa. This has been a topic of heated debate, both online and offline as people use these terms interchangeably without finding out what they mean. In this article, we will be taking a look at the difference between branding, identity, and logo as well as how they all relate to your business and your customers.

To do this effectively, let us take each of these words and define them individually as they relate to your business:



This is a poignant connection, a relationship that your organization or product has with your target audience or market. A brand condenses the most important features of the existence of an entity and translates its uniqueness to consumers. Brands are for building credibility and trust in the fullness of time with its premeditated target audience. It is a relationship that lives on. In a few words, a brand is a relationship between your organization (and establishment) and your target audience. Branding is earned, not made. It is the reward you get for building real and passionate relationships (which is the foundation for creating and delivering value in the marketplace today) with your target market over time.





Identity is a systematic package of illustrative devices that a business entity makes use of to convey information about its brand. These visual devices could be a logo, fonts or even a color system. Visual identity (or visual identity system in full) sometimes include (though not at all times)

  • Brochures
  • Flyers, books, websites
  • Stationery (business card, envelopes, letterheads, etc.)
  • Signage (exterior and interior design)
  • Written content like key messages (conveyed via direct as well as indirect communication)
  • Packaging
  • Customized clothing (worn by employees), etc.

So identity has to do with how your brand looks to your target audience. Being consistent also allows your target market to create or form a memory structure about who you are as well as what value you offer to them to make their lives better or happier. This is all part of the visual identity that showcases your organization to your audience.


Designed by Mayra Monobe




A logo (or logotype) is the visible means by which your business captures your brand’s message and communicates it to your target market. It is usually a trademark that is created using customized lettered words which form a mark for identifying a business entity. More often than not, when people usually refer to a trademark any time they mention the word ‘logo.’ Trademarks used in identifying a business enterprise could be symbols, monograms, icons, signs or badges. Logotypes are used by companies to help prospective customers to identify them readily and to communicate their origin as well as the quality of their goods to an audience. Succinctly, a logo is a feature that identifies a brand.

From the definition of each of branding, identity, and logo, we can see the differences between them as well as how they connect in passing the message of an organization across to its target audience. Branding, identity as well as logos works synergetically to project an organization or business entity to the public, or more accurately its target audience. They are essential ingredients that any business entity, whether new or existing, should strive to incorporate into the big picture of the establishment if your plan is to remain relevant in your chosen niche or industry for a long time.

Original article from Rachel Woody

9 Tips to Creating the Best Food Photos

There is a real art to food styling for photography.  Don't expect to take photos that are @hippilane or @thekitchenmccabe quality on your first shot but with practice and the help of these 9 tips you will be on your way to that coveted instagram page and thousands of followers. 

My first interaction with a food stylist was for a photoshot I was art directing for a popular Las Vegas Strip restaurant. I was absolutely blown away when the artist showed up two assistants carrying three large cases of tools and props. 

The chef would create two of everything. One was a food sit in that we would use to set up the perfect shot. The other was known as the "Hero" it would be quickly taken away by the stylist to get the movie star treatment and create the perfect dish. The stylist work station looked more like a painters studio than a photoshot and when she would finish our hero would be brought in to get the perfect image.  

Her tricks included adding glycerin to the outside of a glass to create the perfect long lasting condensed wet look or painting red strawberries with red lipgloss to make them shine, bacon was glistening with the help of WD-40 and the coffee froth lasted longer than it should have with the help of liquid soap.

We are NOT suggesting you go out and create two of everything or start McGyvering your dishes, but what we learned that day by watching the stylist use out of the box solutions to create the hero made us realize just how much work goes into the "perfect" food image.

9 Tips to the perfect food image.

  1. Use a camera or photo editing app.
    Believe it or not most of the really great food photography on Instagram is taken with the camera not a phone but if you're using your phone use apps like snapseed or Polarr to get that rustic film texture. 
  2. Use ingredients
    Ingredients serve as great props. Cut things up, lay them out and stage your food with them. 
  3. Use different types of plates.
    Different patterns and textures help to create visual balance. Also use smaller plates to give your image a edible perspective.
  4. Use props.
    Props can be anything from old books and plants to kitchen utensils. Pickup sample pieces of materials from places like Homedepot which sells wood and marble in large square sample pieces to use as your background. Also purchase various small pieces of burlap and other materials from fabrics stores to serve as backgrounds and props. 
  5. Use natural light
    This will help keep your shots from looking flat or having unappetizing color casts. Try & find your best source of natural light in your house. 
  6. Organized chaos
    It does not need to be perfect but it does need to be styled intentionally messy - crumble ingredients around lightly on the plate and take the shot with food on the fork. Don't eat half your dinner then shot it. 
  7. Find your style
    Pay attention to the kinds of images you like and mimic what you see. Try to continue in that as you hone your style. 
  8. Shoot from different angles
    Great shots can be taken from above and remember the rule of threes.
  9. Fake it
    If you are seriously considering making the focus of your instagram be food. Then consider using some of the stylist tricks I mentioned above. Making food look its best for the camera, just like girls do for a selfie, is part of the food stylist's repertoire. 


Monday Giveaway- Free Resume Template

As high school students are enjoying spring break and get ready for prom, in the back of their minds they are also thinking about college, summer jobs or getting started in a field that excites them.

We want to help ease some of the stress by giving away this clean, minimal and elegant premium resume template for free. Download package contains .ai files.  Now you can apply to that dream job you’ve always wanted! Font used in this template is Brix Slab with a fresh letter spacing to add more breath to it. Everything is carefully layered so it’s super easy to edit. 3mm bleeds added. Have fun and good luck getting your dream job!

Download Here


Monday Giveaway - Brand Guidelines Template

Whether you have a longstanding brand image or have just rebranded your business, having brand guidelines will ensure that your logo and messaging are consistent across all mediums. There are many ways to do brand guidelines, but some work better than others, depending on how you will use them.

We are giving you the template we use on all of our brand guidelines. It is an editable InDesign file for CS6 and up. Customize it how you see fit because having a strong, recognizable brand that produces quality materials from a website to social media and business cards will contribute towards building a powerful brand identity that does not become diluted. These are some of the most important aspects of brand guidelines to keep in mind:


Having brand guidelines ensures consistency on every level. From your logo to brand colors to messaging, your brand guidelines serve as a reference for everyone in your company to consult before developing collateral or speaking on behalf of the business. Your brand guidelines will work to maintain the integrity of your brand for increased recognition.


When your brand’s image is consistent across all levels, it elevates your brand recognition within the industry and amongst customers. Building a recognizable brand takes time and dedication to your image and messaging. By being consistent, customers will be instilled with a sense of trust and brand identity that grows into a relationship and brand loyalty, as well as word-of-mouth.


The image of your brand takes time to build and only moments to shatter if you are not careful with how you choose to represent your business. Use brand guidelines to monitor the representation of your business, brand, and logo in order to maintain the quality and integrity of your image.


Monday Giveaway - Modern Geometric Pattern

Have a case of the Mondays? Need some inspiration or just too lazy to create the pattern you need for your next design. We understand, that is why every Monday we will be giving away some of our favorite design resources to make the start of your week flow a little easier.

We hope you enjoy this modern black and white geometric pattern set and be sure to #whyworkshop on your projects using the patterns, we love to see what creative stuff you all are working on.

Download Here.


24 Hours with Rachel Zimbelman

Rachel Zimbelman currently serves as the Why Workshop CEO and CBO for

 A few years ago I took a Dosha Quiz. A Dosha helps you identity your ayurvedic constitution, which refers to your genetically inherited physical and emotional qualities. I use the app. iVeda. After taking the quiz it will tell me what daily routine best suits me and the diet I should consider as well as recommending balancing practices, gems and metals.

I wake up with a lot of energy usually between 6:00 -6:30. I let my two dogs out to pee. (I have a mastiff and a chihuahua.) Stretch a little outside and say my affirmations for the day. I'll get myself cleaned up and at 7:15 I take my daughter to school. When I get home, I take the dogs for a quick walk then I do the same 10 minute chakra meditation everyday. This is where most of my creative ideas come to me.

8:00 am. I make my matcha tea with tumeric, almond milk and cannabis honey. I make a high CBD honey at home. I was diagnosed with Crohns 4 years ago and the high CBD, low THC honey has put me into remission.  I eat a light breakfast of cereal and then get dressed for the day. 

9:00 am. I head into work. I do all my creative work before noon. I'm currently finishing up the packaging, marketing and social media posts for two cannabis productions in Nevada. As well as a few branding projects for other companies. We take no more than 5 clients on retainer at a time in order to give them our undivided attention. I'll write a post for why workshop and the, or get creative done for upcoming events. At 12:20 pm. I pick up my daughter for lunch and get back in time to return emails, take meetings, brainstorm with the team and finish up projects. I pick my daughter up from school at 3:00 and head into the home office where I usually stay until 6:30 or 7:00. I'll make dinner, while catching up on some news. We try to eat dinner as a family and we usually play some type of board game together or watch a movie. On a good night I will get some Pilates in or a longer meditation to end my day before showering and falling asleep around 10:00pm.