The Future Design of Weed Is Here and It’s Lit

Summary and opinion by Liz Eiseman.

Joshua Belhumeur is a partner of and Strategy Director for BRINK, a digital marketing campaign group with offices in Tucson and D.C. Always involved in the newest trends, Mr. Belhumeur published a piece predicting what he calls “The Cannabis Aesthetic”... and it’s lit. Since BRINK has a large audience and expands itself further than just the marijuana industry, Mr. Belhumeur first stresses the drug’s rapid growth - among more than just the usual youthful stoner crowd.

He says there’s a “flurry of entrepreneurs” eager to plant their roots in the industry, and the process begins with design. We’ve seen it all before: enough shades of green that would make a rainforest proud, Rasta flags, a hit of Woodstock-esque tie-dye, and leaves that aren’t quite the Adidas trefoil. Each has its own implications, but if our 4/20 friendly buds hope to achieve a streamlined and legal cannabis industry, Mr. Belhumeur thinks something has to change. I haven’t given it too much thought, but I suppose I agree. Not everyone wants to sit down with some late night comedy and a bag of chips too frequently. He calls this new change “Marijuana for the Masses.”

Presently, marijuana is not for the masses. Sure, cannabis tourism is expanding and anyone 21+ could travel and acquire some, but those who have never smoked before aren’t likely to do that. Our present major weed symbols exclude a large group of Americans, they’re also (ironically) the same messages that hint at the present day “juvenile and tacky” tree scene. Mr. Belhumeur cites design and branding as “powerful and psychological forces” in today’s culture, so the spirited aesthetic has to be more sleek. That way, first timers will feel more comfortable with marijuana culture, and more open to trying it out. Increasing pot’s mainstream status won’t be easy, but we’ll likely see marketing campaigns similar to those of Xbox, luxury cars, bourbon, or even granola bars. He makes a few good points, too, noting that these items either invoke a sense professionalism or belonging.

For college graduates in particular, Mr. Belhumeur predicts that having “favorite ‘social’ brands” will encourage the greater marijuana market to counter the slacker perception of smokers. This one had me a little weary: remember the last time America had “favorite ‘social’ brands” of smokes? We’re STILL reeling from nicotine and tobacco issues… Obviously, marijuana is very different from cigarettes, but it’s something to consider. Anyway, Mr. Belhumeur believes that this this notion of a favorite brand could even lead to a more ambitious or active lifestyle. Legalization stemming from a mass of marijuana users will bring out once secretive users. If those active users went sativa over indica, nearly anything would be possible. 5k race? Check. Errands? Check. Low impact sports? Check. With so many potential open and active consumers, the money to gain from marijuana marketing seems like almost anyone’s for the taking. BRINK, led by Mr. Belhumeur, is ready to jump in.

Sad to see the good ol’ grass aesthetic blow away? No worries. Mr. Belhumeur says “we don’t have to feel constrained by the design of the past,” and acknowledges that brands will forever “respect the history” of the marijuana industry. So what’s next? Chrome vapes with Snoop’s profile etched tastefully on one side? Onyx carved ash trays engraved, “smoke weed every day?” We’ve got a lot to wait for in the cannabis industry, and the future, despite economically promising, is… smoky.

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