The cannabis leaf is recognizable by nearly any age group and demographic. The seven-pointed green leaf has long been synonymous with counterculture, hippies, and crime. But over the past decade, the history surrounding cannabis has begun to turn a new leaf altogether. As more research surrounding the drug is conducted and published, older generations become more accepting of the drug, while younger generations grow more likely to use it. This recipe is causing the popular opinion of cannabis to shed its centuries-old persona, and enter a new identity. 

 

Around the world, cannabis is becoming decriminalized and then legalized. In the United States, over 30 states allow for medical consumption, while 11 states have legalized recreational use. Part of this shift in public perception, and thereafter legality, is the fact that cannabis is being reshaped in what it means and does. The stereotypical use of the drug is dying out as both marketers and users are speaking about the drug through the lens of a lifestyle choice. 

 

Polling is further illustrating how today’s users are not seeking cannabis use for a “high effect,” but instead some type of medical care, such as: insomnia relief or anxiety reduction. The influx of cannabis as a medical treatment has been spurred by a generational wave of health-conscious thinkers who advertise the narrative of natural remedy over lab-created drugs. 

 

With all this in mind, cannabis brands are coming to an impasse: to use the leaf or to not use the leaf — that is the question. According to a 2016 study of business logos, roughly 44 percent of cannabis companies use the leaf in some fashion in their logo design. So should you use it? 

The Pros… 

Okay, so this side definitely has an uphill battle. Cannabis is trying to reposition itself in the eye of the world, and leave behind a crushing negative stigma — and the leaf is tainted with that persona. However, the leaf can be interpreted to represent themes of independence and nature. Here are a few positives to using the leaf design in your company branding: 

 

  • Recognizable 
  • Attention-grabbing 
  • Strong fanbase 
  • Nostalgia 

The Cons… 

As we’ve discussed throughout this blog, the leaf carries a lot of negative baggage — and no one likes that. The majority of cannabis-related companies, whether plant-related or auxiliary, have been able to carve out their place in the market without the need to use the leaf symbolism. Here are the reasons to avoid using the leaf: 

 

  • Saturated market use 
  • Stigma-related  
  • Possible advertising issues with paid media
  • Inability to represent unique market niches 

The Conclusion 

At the end of the day, you need to do what’s best for your business. Different types of companies serve different clients, and that will play into your branding decisions. As cannabis continues its fight for national legalization here in the United States, we anticipate more cannabis-related businesses to move further away from dated imagery and messaging that has followed cannabis throughout the years. With the proven success of numerous cannabis-related businesses that do not use the leaf symbolism, we encourage this trend to continue. 

 

As younger consumers make up the bulk majority of cannabis buyers, these groups are more open to a new type of branding that is absent of the leaf — compared to generations that have seen its use in marketing and propaganda campaigns spanning decades. In a way, marketers and designers are working with a blank slate, and now is the time to paint a new picture for cannabis. 

Need Help Branding Your Cannabis Company?  

Elevato Marketing is a full-service digital agency specializing in cannabis advertising. With a team of experienced professionals, we are ready to help connect your products and services with the right clients. Contact us to see how together we can benefit your business!