Mary Jane: A closer look at one of the 21st century’s most interesting rebrands

AnalogFolk's Bronte Wilson explores how drug companies have successfully managed to rebrand one of the world's most divisive products.

Cannabis. Did a bunch of these images just pop into your head?

You’re probably not alone. This is the way most of the world has viewed cannabis for a long time. But! The times, they are a-changin’. And though the days of ageing hippies smoking doobs and frat-boy-bong-hits might not be gone, something new is slowly finding its way into the mainstream.

First, some context. Peter Smisek from Iconeye writes: “as a wave of legalisation sweeps the US, designers and entrepreneurs are dispersing the cloud of negative stereotypes hanging over cannabis.” So, let’s look at some of the game-changers in the legal cannabis space and how they’re tackling one of the most challenging rebrands in recent history – turning an illegal substance into #PoshPot.


Dosist fits into the lifestyle space and feels like something you’d see LuLuLemon-clad fitness influencers promoting on Bondi Beach. Their innovative dose pen is sleek and scientific-looking (not the type of device you’d normally associate with weed) and coupled with their functional website and polished social presence, all cumulates into a well thought out, non-threatening cannabis experience. The brand’s visual identity, website and marketing materials were created by Anomaly who also have a stake in the company.

Serra Cannabis

Serra Cannabis, on the other hand, play more in the recreational space. They’re trendy and a little boujie, with a simple but standout typeface and fresh colour palette. I like to think of them as the Greek Islands of marijuana. Appealing to the more experienced pot-smoker, they’ve established themselves in a way that feels top-shelf and premium without pushing it too far. Ultimately it’s their focus on end-to-end experience design that really makes them stand out; from their product offering, packaging and merch line to their sleek digital presence and in-store experience. Simply delightful.

Pure Beauty

LA-based ‘Pure Beauty’ play in a similar space to Serra (Portland), yet their aesthetic pays homage to fashion more than anything else. Here, cannabis is positioned more as an accessory rather than a lifestyle product and cleverly taps into Instagram’s obsession with ‘high-culture.’ Definitely less accessible to mainstream users, but interesting to see elevated to a more cultish status rather than secret backroom sessions.

Leafs By Snoop

The very good folks at Pentagram partnered with Snoop Dogg to brand his very own cannabis range, which includes flower and edibles like chocolates, chews, drops and gummies. Peter Smisek notes that the attention to aesthetics is not purely decorative – something each of these brands encapsulate: “The look is more playful and colourful, but is definitely grown up. This makes sense – to placate critical voices, states regulate the product’s appearance so it doesn’t appeal to minors. Cartoons and words like ‘candy’ are a no-go; instead Snoop’s range of edibles received the name ‘Dogg treats’.”

What each of these brands demonstrate is the ethos behind them – not just what they sell (which just so happens to be cannabis). It’s not just about looking cool, but about navigating a complex subject for new users and slowly changing perceptions along the way. Jeremy Pelley, co-founder of Portland based branding agency OMFGCO says: “The cannabis industry definitely has a diverse audience, just as diverse as most others. Now that people can speak more openly about their preferences, you’ll find that there’s a wide range of folks who are interested – not just the hip creatives or classic stoners, but the elderly, business professionals, health nuts, soccer moms, and many more.”

But what does this all mean for Australian advertisers?

Perhaps it shows that even something perceived as inelegant can be repositioned, or that other sensitive industries should take a leaf (ha, sorry) from the Mary Jane book.

Alcohol advertising might soon be a thing of the past (and already is in Sweden), so might now be the time to start changing perceptions and behaviours there too?

Two years ago, Samantha Edwards wrote: “We’ve yet to see the emergence of the Grey Goose or the Patrón of marijuana – the kind of high-end lifestyle brands that people choose because they have an emotional connection to them.” But in the last few years we’ve seen a vast amount of brands that could easily fit the bill – and it’s these brands that are designing the future of marijuana. One that looks less That 70s Show and more Sex and the City.

Bronte Wilson is an art director at AnalogFolk Sydney. Find her here or here.


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