Featured image for Pack of the Month: Unlearn Studio Delivers a Cannabis-Infused Kombucha With High Tide

Pack of the Month: Unlearn Studio Delivers a Cannabis-Infused Kombucha With High Tide

by Bill McCool on 03/29/2023 | 3 Minute Read

A truly great wordmark can do some heavy lifting, even for a new-to-market brand. Sure, we've heard all about food photography and taste appeal and how that influences consumers' purchasing decisions. But I'd be lying if I said I understand the choice to, say, put an image of a chocolate bar on a Hershey's wrapper.

That's not shade, mind you, but I know what moves me—aesthetically speaking, that is. 

And maybe that's why so many of our readers were generous with their views, thumbs up, and hearts with Unlearn Studio's can design for the cannabis-infused kombucha brand High Tide. For our March 2023 Pack of the Month, we spoke with Unlearn creative director and partner Davide Baratta about the origins of the design for the upstart kombucha maker and why it might not be a wise idea to sample the goods while designing.


Walk us through the design process that you went through for this project.

Our main goal with this cannabis-infused fruity kombucha was to embody a chilled "go-with-the-flow" attitude that speaks to a growing audience that values the refreshing benefits of natural drinks, like kombucha, and enjoys the relaxation of a low-dose THC and CBD drink.

We kicked off the project with an exploration phase that helped us understand the right visual tone for High Tide, walking the line between sophistication and playfulness. We then moved into developing the identity and packaging, focusing on typography and color, borrowing cues from the 60s, and balancing the bold typography with a calm color palette informed by the range of flavors.


What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve with the High Tide packaging, and how did you accomplish it? 

In terms of goals, we aimed to be bold and elevated, healthy yet also wavy. We achieved this by doing a lot with less. On pack, the wordmark does a lot of the heavy lifting, delivering a strong personality that's balanced out by the pastel color scheme. The matte finish adds an elegant touch, contributing to the premium look.


Cannabis packaging, while still relatively young, is often hard to nail down. What do you think the category is lacking?

The cannabis-infused drinks market seems to walk an already-beaten path by borrowing from other categories like energy drinks, hard-seltzers, and craft beer. 

While cannabis products are more daring and bold in owning visual codes that are becoming specific to their category, cannabis-infused drinks are yet to catch up. We saw this as an opportunity to create something different and to stand out on the shelf.

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What was the most challenging part of this project?

Our biggest challenge, which was also a very fun one to tackle, was developing the right visual identity. We removed everything that wasn't essential from the packaging. But we still aimed to create a rich visual world to support it. Striking the right balance required some exploration, but we designed a system that could highlight different benefits while remaining true to our aesthetic.


Did you really get the matte colors on top of the can?

Unfortunately, the matte color on the top of the cans remains a designer's utopian dream, at least for now.


If you could pick one aspect of the finished design you like the most or feel especially proud of, what would it be and why?

We're extremely proud of the entire project, but the wordmark rally slaps and works super hard on the pack. Big shout out to Velvetyne Type Foundry for Ouroboros!


Share one lesson that you learned while developing the finished product.

Cannabis is fun but can get in the way of making clear design decisions. Lesson learned: keep product tasting and design development separate.