"Making CBD accessible to first-time users"

An experiment with Cannabis edibles branding

Case Study

Habu started off as a way to celebrate California's legalization of recreational cannabis. Our association with Ikkyu Inc led us to further the engineering team's work and conceptualize their products as seen on supermarket shelves. The concept slowly morphed into actual experiments in developing a whole range of everyday foods infused with cannabis extract/oil.

The concept

Towards the beginning of 2018, it became pretty evident that the demographics of people interested in consuming cannabis/CBD related products were no longer restricted to younger audiences. The market began to see an influx of middle-aged women, older audiences with an interest in the health benefits of cannabis usage, and even working professionals who wanted an alternative to consuming the product by smoking.

The team at Ikkyu had a deep understanding of the various features of cannabinoid extracts and were curiously intrigued by the challenge posed by the industry's shifting trends. They were confident that they could create a CBD/THC extract containing all the plant's key benefits, without any added color/taste differences that came with traditional extraction methods. And therefore, the challenge placed before us was a forthright one - come up with a brand that highlighted the benefits of cannabis while easing first-time users into trying edibles.

The Thought Process

We began by looking at Ikkyu's roots and their love for Eastern philosophy. Taking the brand's ideals of growth without consequences, we knew that any identity we came up with for the brand would also need to reflect their simplicity and honesty.

And so began the search for a name. After multiple rounds of considerations and taking into account the parent company's branding, we settled on one core concept - keep the original Japanese inspiration in place, but make sure that the brand could stand by itself as a product and not depend on Ikkyu's identity. (This decision was made after realizing that Ikkyu was branded to reflect the agricultural and engineering community's sensibilities - and the new brand was aimed at the B2C audience.) And so was born Habu!

Here were the three things we kept in mind while coming up with the concept for Habu:

  • Normalizing recreational usage is essential - therefore, any overt focus on making the brand seem like it's made for hardcore cannabis users would not sit well with our demographic.
  • Any packaging or design elements conceptualized would have to keep in mind California's strict regulations for cannabis marketing.
  • Keep the identity friendly, rich, and distinguished without bombarding audiences with "dark luxury" references.

We absolutely loved the process of thinking up all the ways in which we could showcase the uses of CBD extracts and kept our focus on making the packaging and design of the product seem clean, distinct, and familiar. The color palettes, traditional Japanese stamp layout used for the logo, and even the little ice cream cups were all designed, keeping in mind the urban audience whose focus was on consuming CBD/THC products without seeming conspicuous.

Tell us how you think we did!