Case Study by Vanessa Eckstein RGD, Blok Design
Cannabis company 48North required a brand that would represent its expansiveness, boldness and clarity as they challenge preconceptions and open possibilities, speaking to women as their primary audience.
48North is a vertically integrated cannabis company focused on the health and wellness market through cultivation and extraction, as well as the creation of innovative, authentic brands for next-generation cannabis products.
We were invited to the project because of our previous work with Kirsten Gauthier, 48North's Chief Marketing Officer. The beauty of a long-standing relationship is that you have the experience and respect for each other's work and way of thinking. Kirsten is a trailblazer and we knew that her involvement would mean an opportunity to work differently, rethinking the space completely.
Projects like this have the ability to shift paradigms. With the legalization of cannabis, Canada is leading the way into a new environment and design thinking plays an essential role in establishing new ways of communicating, breaking down barriers and expanding people’s minds about the potential the plant can offer beyond anything they have encountered before.
The project itself was all-encompassing with many phases and elements evolving in tandem. Not only were we working on the main brand, but also sub-brands including Latitude and F8, from design to product to strategic thinking.
We began the project by researching what already existed in this space and used this knowledge as the basic foundation for our concept. To make a true shift and disregard preconceptions, we needed to employ expansive thinking. Intuition and uncertainty played a big part in this particular design.
The 48North brand was designed as a fluid system with the logo and visual vocabulary rich in depth yet contemporary. Offering a new sensibility and challenging the existing visual landscape and preconceptions of cannabis was fundamental. We had to imagine new ways of depicting the subject matter, insinuating it in some cases to be able to work within shifting rules and regulations that prevented us from showing the plant itself. For this reason, many aspects of the deliverables had to be carefully considered as we navigated what directions we could take. These constraints pushed us to explore alternative solutions and give the identity a unique sense of self through brush strokes and illustrations created in house.
Following the work for the main brand, we developed the concept and naming for the company's communication platform, Latitude. Latitude is a printed magazine and online platform that celebrates the stories of women who use the plant for health and wellness by bringing to life their deeply personal experiences.
We also designed the identity and products for 48North's product line, F8. The brand launch included a ceramic pipe and a brass grinder aiming to break stereotypes of what cannabis products should be aesthetically and functionally. Both products were heavily inspired by organic shapes and textures, and the materials were chosen with timelessness and longevity in mind, in an effort to create everyday pieces that will last.
The brand as well as the products designed for F8 were incredibly well received. 48North was awarded the O'Cannabiz Brand of the Year. What truly matters for us is knowing we are not only changing the way people see cannabis, but how we connect to each other, through authenticity and diversity. By honouring many women and voices, this project is helping shape a space where cannabis is a connector and catalyst for how women experience their lives!
- Project constraints can lead to opportunities to defy expectations. There is never anything more inspiring than when we explore far away from the expected.
- The best projects combine freedom and functionality. These are the opportunities you always hope for: enough freedom to be able to conceptualize and think expansively combined with specific constraints to make sure we respond to actual functional needs. We aspire to continue moving forward to incorporate the beauty and potential of the ritual in everyday life.
Published June 2019