Keeping Your Marijuana Brand Vision Creative (and Healthy)

Absolute Xtracts Gelcaps Portfolio clip web
Absolute Xtracts Gelcaps Portfolio clip web

The Hybrid Creative sees itself as a “brand therapist” out to cure marketplace blues through “business soul-searching.”

In 2015, when ZDCA Design & Consulting finished its branding and packaging designs for the hydroponic and nutrients company Cutting Edge Solutions, one of the company’s other prominent clients asked, “Are we with a weed agency?”

The question, along with an expanding list of other cannabis-related brands, inspired the birth of Santa Rosa, California-based The Hybrid Creative. The ZDCA subsidiary concentrates on medical marijuana, hydroponics, and cannabis companies. “The creation of our cannabis-specific subsidiary allowed ZDCA to fully focus on sustainable enterprises, e-commerce, and renewable energy clientele,” said Laurel Gregory, creative director for The Hybrid Creative.


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“The first few things we ask our clients are ‘Why do you do what you do?’ ‘Why do you make what you make?’ ‘What do you want people to feel when they experience your product?’ ‘Who stands to benefit from what you are creating?’” —Laurel Gregory, creative director for The Hybrid Creative

In less than two years, The Hybrid Creative has became the preeminent Northern California design and web development agency. Clients include Care by Design, Absolute Xtracts, Bhang, CannaCraft, Nanolux, The Emerald Cup, and Fleurish Farms. The agency started with a team of two and grew to a staff of twelve with an active network of more than thirty creative associates. To accomplish branding, graphic design, marketing, and web design, the company employs a team that understands technology.

“Our adroit team of master programmers and developers are well-positioned to elevate the tech side of the industry,” said Gregory. “We love building apps and custom tools, especially when we get to explore ideas and strategize solutions with visionaries.”

In March, for the fourth consecutive year, Hybrid won the North Bay Bohemian award for Best Digital Creative Services. Chief Executive Officer Zack Darling and President and Chief Technology Officer Kate Schneider often speak on trade-show panels. Ultimately, Hybrid sees itself as an ally to its clients, often referring to itself as a “brand therapist,” “brand evolutionist,” or “brand strategist.”

“It is our goal to live and breathe elevated results,” noted

From the early days of ZDCA, Gregory knew that when it comes to branding, many companies put the cart before the horse. Most companies focus on a logo design first, which Gregory said is like trying to construct an empire on hollow ground. “We have found that the way to create a successful company is to start with the heart of the company,” she said. “Build a clear foundation by establishing your core values and defining the things that make your company truly unique. From this authentic source, we can work outward and build a sustainable and lasting brand.”

Gregory begins a relationship by asking a few simple-but-important questions: “Why do you do what you do?” “Why do you make what you make?” “What do you want people to feel when they experience your product?” “Who stands to benefit from what you are creating?” Gregory calls the grilling “business soul-searching.”

However, one size does not fit all. For instance, edibles attract first-time users and more female consumers than concentrates and oils. “The age range and income demographic shifts slightly as well, which we also keep in mind as we approach messaging and the overall company trade-dress,” she noted. Gregory said she believes the market is a blank canvas right now, and Hybrid a vessel helping to create and paint the environment.

“We are committed to using our experience and perspective to not only craft a brand’s look from top to bottom, but also to help these new businesses thrive,” she said. “We have been part of the birth and growth of some of the key players in [northern California]. What an exciting time.”

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The Hybrid Creative’s brand strategy approach derives inspiration from noted spiritualist Don Miguel Ruiz.

Be Impeccable with your word. Be honest. Come to the marketplace with integrity. Client loyalty is born from authenticity.

Don’t take anything personally. There may be bigger brands. There may be more successful companies.

Don’t try to be everything to everyone.

Don’t make assumptions. Do the research and heavy lifting needed to uncover the information you need. Use that research to make educated decisions and plant your brand on solid ground to build a strong foundation.

Always do your best. Follow through on your brand promise and regularly check actions against core values. Focus on what you do best and do it well.

The Hybrid Creative