How Your Style Guide Makes or Breaks Your Cannabis Brand

If you ask 100 employees to bake you a vanilla cake with vanilla icing, you will get back 100 different versions of the cake.

If you ask 100 employees to bake you a vanilla cake with vanilla icing, you will get back 100 different versions of the cake. This is because there are many ways to make a vanilla cake with vanilla icing.

Some team members thought they could improve the cake by adding sprinkles. However, this created inconsistency because some cakes had smooth icing while others were whipped. Additionally, some cakes were round while others were square. Lastly, some cakes were small while others resembled the tiered wedding cake you had in mind. As a result, your business now looks unorganized and unreliable.

If you had given more specific instructions and included pictures of acceptable cakes, you would feel more confident and in control when selling your cakes at a wedding. This is the same reason your cannabis brand needs a detailed style guide.

The cannabis industry is growing quickly and there are a lot of businesses in it. But that doesn't mean you can neglect your brand. You have to be careful with who you give your logo to and make sure they understand what it means. If you don't, then all your hard work building the brand will be wasted.

There are four main goals for building your brand’s style guide:

  • It makes it easy for the press to get what they need,
  • It makes it easy to monitor how other companies use your brand,
  • It makes it easy for your employees to work your brand on your behalf,
  • It protects you legally from the repercussions of misuse.

Remember: Every time someone gets your brand right, you add value. But when someone gets it wrong, you take value away.

A few general tips to keep in mind from the start

  • Do not let unqualified vendors design your logo. Many products in this industry are starting to look alike because people are letting print vendors design their logos. These people are not invested in your brand, they are invested in getting your business. Be mindful of those who offer discounts or free art; you get what you pay for. I know it may seem like the easy thing to do, and vendors use this as a hook to buy their product, but taking the early time to work with a true designer to create a memorable logo will pay off in the long run. This is something you only want to do once, so do it right the first time.
  • Keep the style guide on your website. This will make it easy for the media to write about you. They will have all of the information they need to do so.

The basics of a style guide include

  • High-resolution art,
  • Your brand logo,
  • Your selected brand font,
  • Your selected brand colors,
  • Your Basic Proper Usage.

Complimentary applications and extensions include

  • Reverse logos,
  • Additional fonts acceptable to use,
  • Trap/knock out versions of your logo, 
  • Set up patterns for templates that others can use,
  • Patterns, step and repeats, gradations, silhouettes,
  • Merchandising examples for apparel and product development.


  • Your brand's verbal aspects are just as important as its visual aspects. Create a guide that explains how to use your brand's language correctly. This is especially important for people who sell or describe your product or services (including your staff).
  • The language in your style guide affects how people talk about you. In the language section, you should include how you want to be talked about, key phrases that describe your brand, and material to introduce you to press.
  • Be sure to communicate what your business stands for, what you're passionate about, and why you're in this industry in order to connect with potential customers and partners.
  • Write your tagline and your headlines. Elaborate on your reasons for why these phrases were chosen. This will help with advertising and marketing.

Digital style

In the digital age, it is important to have a style guide for your business. This guide should help you figure out who your customers are. What do they look like? What do they sound like? How do they move through social media? What are they sharing? You need to ask yourself these questions and then tailor your digital image around them when you market.

  • Choose examples that will inspire people when they post about you on social media. Make sure your "style guide" communicates what your page should look and feel like. This will help people who post about you stay on brand.
  • Evaluate how your brand appears on different digital platforms.
  • Evaluate how your brand is portrayed on different social media platforms.
  • Look at the digital ads in your city's alternative weekly newspaper. If you like what you see, have a designer layout an ad for you to see how it would look. If it works well, add it to your style guide.
  • If someone uses your images without permission, they are responsible for any legal issues that may arise. You can also include intellectual property protections here to help protect your brand.

As an agency, I can’t tell you how valuable this tool is and how much time is wasted if you don’t have it. 

This is a guide that will help you stay successful. You need to change it as your brand changes. This will help you feel good when other people use your logo. They will do it the way you want it done.

Keep in mind that you can achieve more if you set your goals high. Aim for what seems impossible, and then keep pushing yourself to go further. You'll be able to see even more opportunities and possibilities once you've reached your original goal.

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Greater sales tomorrow begin with your decision now.