The cannabis and CBD industries are both more mainstream — and more competitive — than ever before. Currently worth $5.3 billion, the American CBD market alone will expand to nearly $16 billion by 2026 (according to a Brightfield Group report). Up to a third of Americans have tried CBD in one form or another.
The elevation of cannabis products to the mainstream has kicked off a space race for consumer attention.
So, in the competition to get noticed, cannabis and CBD brands have followed in the footsteps of wineries and craft beer makers and turned toward creating eye-catching, brand-defining product labels.
Label Challenges for CBD, Cannabis and Hemp Brands
Some big-name players like CVS and Molson Coors have dipped their toes into the CBD industry. But cannabis and CBD sales are still dominated by smaller businesses. Many CBD businesses are run by growers who are passionate about the quality and purity of their products … but may be less knowledgeable about the nuances of product labels.
Serious Dirt Botanics is a perfect example.
Serious Dirt Botanics prides itself on having complete control over its products and processes. Unlike most other CBD companies, Serious Dirt grows its own hemp plants on a farm in Vermont, using organic practices to nurture and sustain the soil. From harvesting the raw plants, to extracting the oil, to packaging, they do it all — except for one thing.
“We literally do everything but make the labels,” says Scott Ambrosino, president of Serious Dirt Botanics.
So, when it came time to find a new label printer, the Serious Dirt team went looking for a vendor that not only tolerated but shared a commitment to perfecting even the tiniest details. That search led Serious Dirt Botanics to The Label Printers.
Related Reading: 3 Things to Consider About Marijuana Labels
(Justifiably) High Standards for CBD Labels
Serious Dirt’s previous label vendor had not been forthright about pricing options for bulk orders, prompting the company to seek a more proactive, open and communicative CBD label supplier.
“We fought all the way to the top and they basically said, ‘No, we're not willing to do anything,’ explains Ambrosino. "They probably didn’t think we were going to leave, but I said, ‘We’re done.’”
After researching extensively, Ambrosino determined that The Label Printers might be one of the few label vendors that could live up to Serious Dirt’s standards. He contacted The Label Printers and emphasized the need for transparency and honesty between the two companies.
“We called The Label Printers and that's where it all started,” Ambrosino says. “But I did lay it on the line to them and said, ‘Look, you guys are going to have to really step it up. We want you to be forthright with us, we want you to be honest with us and don't hide anything.’”
Serious Dirt’s second requirement for its new label printer was fidelity to the work of the original vendor. While Ambrosino and his colleagues were not happy with their previous printer’s business practices, they were very satisfied with the quality of the labels and wanted to maintain that same premium look and feel.
“We’re about form and function,” Ambrosino says. “The product has got to be great, but the design has to be wonderful, as well. We’re trying to go for this elevated look because we feel that we have an elevated product.”
Precisely reproducing someone else’s work can prove difficult, but The Label Printer’s experts knew they had the experience, know-how, technology, and persistence to meet and exceed Serious Dirt’s expectations.
Forging a Relationship Through Experimentation, Patience and Communication
Upon receiving the art files from Serious Dirt, The Label Printers’ team quickly realized something was amiss: The previous vendor had printed a metallic label element in a different color than the design files specified. Serious Dirt asked for The Label Printers to figure out a way to reproduce the vibrant rose gold color they wanted rather than follow those specifications.
“To get the look Serious Dirt Botanics wanted, our art team had to precisely duplicate the existing, vibrant colors on a black background while printing on a metallic material. We definitely had to come up with solutions,” says Rebecca Green, customer service representative for The Label Printers.
Green made sure Serious Dirt was satisfied with the look of the labels before initiating a full print run.
“Rebecca ended up sending us multiple proofs instead of one. We paid for one, but we got multiple, and that was amazing. Our previous vendor would never have done that,” Ambrosino says.
The label’s topcoat also required some experimentation to achieve perfection. Serious Dirt asked for a label that not only looked vibrant and clear but felt smooth to the touch. The coating also had to protect the label from damage caused by the oily CBD tincture product (another common challenge for CBD and cannabis labels).
After running some trials, The Label Printers determined that conventional 1-millimeter laminate dulled the label’s colors too much. The Label Printers suggested a water-based spray as an alternative.
“That was actually better for us because it made us more green,” Ambrosino says. (As buyers of natural products, many CBD and cannabis customers seek out eco-conscious and socially responsible brands.)
In the end, nearly every single label element went through several iterations, from the substrate to the liner. Each time, The Label Printers arrived at a solution that assured the Serious Dirt team they had made the right choice of label vendor.
“Every step of the way where there was an issue, Rebecca and I had a good relationship, and we worked through it,” Ambrosino says. “She went back to her team, and they went above and beyond when it came to everything — press proofs, die cuts, you name it.”
Ambrosino acknowledges that Serious Dirt’s label orders have been relatively modest so far, numbering around 5,000. Nevertheless, The Label Printers team has never offered Serious Dirt anything less than their full attention.
– Scott Ambrosino, president, Serious Dirt Botanics
CBD Labels, Cannabis Labels, and Hemp Labels Help Growing Companies Stand Out
Serious Dirt Botanics has good reasons to be optimistic about the future of their industry. Modern life is not getting any less stressful; the demand for natural solutions will only get more intense. The competition will only grow more intense, as well.
Durable, attractive CBD labels, cannabis labels and hemp labels — created in partnership with experienced label printing experts like The Label Printers — will help brands gain and retain customers in this burgeoning market.