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Pack of the Month: Mule Extracts Wants To Be The Workhorse That Helps You Get Chill AF

by Shawn Binder on 08/29/2019 | 4 Minute Read

When you think of vintage cigars, you might recall low-lit rooms in smoke-filled 1950s Hollywood parties from old movies, or perhaps you think of poker nights among close friends where the pizza and beer are plentiful. Maybe, it's that time you smoke one at a friend’s BBQ with no one telling you that you’re not supposed to inhale and you spend the rest of the evening puking. 

Just me? Okay.  

Murmur is looking to bottle that feeling of accessible luxury and camaraderie that cigars conjure for their client, Mule Extracts, a vape company looking to bring their cannabis products to the forefront of the luxury space. Murmur approached the logo and tagline—take the high road—in tandem so they could reinforce one another. 

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The Oregon-based design studio's goal was to make cannabis the luxe option for the career-minded professional after a long day at the office. 

“We embraced the mule visual, and played off of the idea of 'getting high' with a mark we called the 'Mulegasus,'” said Renee Dimalla, designer for Murmur. The resulting logo captures a timelessness that you don't often see in packaging design, and it owes to a regulation in the cannabis community stipulating that logos cannot appear cartoon-like.

Murmur wanted to give the packaging the same visual deference given to high-end liquor and approached their design by borrowing from history in a way that not many cannabis brands are doing: through other luxury products that pull you through space and time. 

The decision to pull inspiration from cigars is symbolic of the indulgent sort of luxury an afternoon cannabis smoke entails for people today. The boxes themselves are a sight to behold, with the hero logo placed firmly in the center of the packaging, they’re surrounded by a gold border with the tagline “take the high road.” The boxes open by sliding out the insert to reveal the vape pan nestled in a hunter green colored holder. These luxe boxes conjure images of expensive Cuban cigars offered to party-goers in an old black and white film. 

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“We chose palettes with an ornamental and antique feel with mixtures of ivory, racing green, and true metallic gold with touches of bright red and pink for a modern feel,” said Dimalla. “All these colors feel current but emblematic of vintage cigar packaging. We also came up with a complimentary system to indicate strain using inexpensively printed label additions. Everything is highly ornamental from the exterior to the interior, to glorify the product.”

One of the more striking aspects of the packaging is Murmur’s incorporation of the color pink. To buck traditional gender-norms that are associated with the color, the design company decided to make it the hero of their palate. It’s a refreshing choice that pushes the cannabis industry, and packaging design as a whole, into a gender-neutral future. 

Designing for cannabis products can be tricky, given that in the legal sense, it's still the wild, wild west. As a result, there are numerous regulations for cannabis consumer products while the laws catch up to the new recreational past-time. This pushed Murmur to work through several iterations of the design before it reached the market. 

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“We went through several phases of design with different intentions,” said Dimalla. "The first iteration of the boxes was designed to be childproof, which is a difficult feat because you have to meet so many rules and regulations, and there are only a few companies with the patent rights to print them. This dictated a lot of content and placement decisions when, inevitably, the client went for a less expensive and much more flexible non-childproof box. Our printers did an amazing job engineering a tray that held the cartridges like nobody's business and gave us a unique platform to apply more design.”

The decision to print a non-childproof box raises some interesting questions on Oregon’s sustainability laws blocking brands from being able to craft eco-friendly safe packaging. In many states including California, Washington, Idaho and Oregon, if your cannabis product doesn't come packaged in a childproof container, the seller must legally provide a childproof exit container.

The law states: "To be child-resistant, an exit package must meet the ASTM classification standard D3475-13, be opaque so that its contents cannot be seen from the outside of the packaging, be RESEALABLE if intended for more than one use and be properly labeled."

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However, the packaging design on recycled chipboard means that Mule doesn't need to print unique boxes for every product they offer; three customizable "seal" label colorways indicate Sativa, Indica, and hemp. Mule updates the seals and applies them to the associated box colorway.

The less custom printing for Mule allows the brand to be thoughtful in their design for one product, versus putting multiple into production. 

Murmur’s elevated and approachable design for Mule shows a future where cannabis products are revered in the same way a deliciously mixed craft cocktail after a long day at the office is. 

Mule Extracts might be for the workhorses out there, but it’s beautiful enough to capture the attention of the most visually discerning. For those who still consider weed to be seedy and low-brow, here's a prime example of how stunning and elevated cannabis products have become. 

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