By Kim Guarnaccia, owner, Huzzah Marketing, LLC

Most often associated with luxury brands or beauty and cosmetics packaging, eye-catching holographic board and foils have been a popular way to enhance a brand’s image. Recently, packaging designers in the cannabis market have begun to embrace this effect as well, as cannabis brands discover that holography can not only grow brand awareness and be visually appealing but also can secure a carton against tampering. 

Emphasize the design

For decades, holographic special effects have been used to enhance design elements so a carton stands apart from competitors on the store shelf. The cannabis industry now is starting to utilize holography to achieve these same goals.

With the new product release of its High Balls edibles, the cannabis company Funtime wanted a carton to highlight the brand name. So, the designer utilized a silver foil stamp and registered emboss on the logo, and then accentuated the playful graphic accents with gold ink.

The ‘pièce de résistance’ was when the team at Impress Communications recommended printing not on plain paperboard, but on holographic board from Spectratek. The board’s holographic circle pattern mimicked the circular logo as well as the ball-shaped edibles, providing a playful, engaging design element while emphasizing the shape and product name.

Inflorescence also uses holography to highlight its design. When Inflorescence first introduced its product line, the company approached Ross Print and Packaging for assistance in developing an attention-grabbing, short-run package. With an eye towards cost savings, an inexpensive flexible pouch was utilized that could hold varying sizes and shapes of small glass jars. The designers then recommended emphasizing the curving abstract design with a waterfall Cast and Cure™ holographic pattern from Breit Technologies. This design also would set apart the pouch from others hanging on a dispensary store rack.

Although there was a learning curve for the printing team on how to properly align the Cast and Cure foil rolls as the film moved from the press to the finishing station, they quickly overcame the challenge and have successfully used this technique on other jobs since then. “But what’s most amazing about Cast and Cure,” said Eric Sandstrom, digital press lead at Ross Print, “is that the same film can be reused multiple times, thereby reducing waste and repurchasing costs.”

The customer loved the holography so much that it now is used on the company’s jar labels as well.

Another example of a cannabis company that has reaped the benefits of utilizing holographic foil in its packaging is Mammoth Labs. Instead of utilizing a holographic pattern across much of the carton, DMS Color’s inhouse design team used holographic foil to just highlight the logo. A matte laminate scuff-coating also was applied, and a raised high-gloss varnish was used to highlight other key visual elements.

According to DMS Color’s Marketing Manager Brittney Turberville, the gummies are flying off the store shelves, in part, she believes, due to the holographic logo. Although visually arresting, the colorful logo does not overwhelm the rest of the design, so the information on the carton remains easy to read and understand.

More bang for the buck

Start-ups are, by necessity, budget conscious. As such, packaging designers for newly formed cannabis companies are embracing the use of holographic board and foils as a way to inexpensively achieve dramatic effects.

For instance, when Concentr8 decided to redesign its packaging during a recent rebranding initiative, the company reached out to K Laser Technology to assist. With a simple two-color pass (black and PMS blue), UV gloss spot varnish and rainbow holographic cold foil, an arresting design was created that did not break the bank. Concentr8 was so pleased with the results that it now is considering utilizing holographic cold foil across its entire product line.

Similarly, when the cannabis company High Season added its first signature extract to its product line, the company asked for a carton design that would stand apart from competitors’ packaging as well as its other, less expensive extracts.

With limited funds available, the designers at DiDio and Associates kept the design simple with just two spot colors and no special coatings. It also developed an adhesive-free folding carton design, thereby minimizing fulfillment costs.

Its printer, DPI Direct, also identified a cost-savings opportunity by utilizing the same die for both the new signature extract carton and the cartons for High Season’s other extracts. To achieve the colorful playfulness that the client desired, holographic board from Mainline Holographics was used.

The arresting holographic swirl pattern matched High Season’s brand identity so well – and sales exceeded its expectations to such a degree – that the company now plans to print its other signature product packaging on holographic board as well.

Keep thieves at bay

Cannabis-LowellMost packaging designers don’t immediately think of holography when they need to secure a carton lid or seal an opening. But cannabis companies now are finding that holography can play an important role in deterring theft as well as elevating a packaging design.

For instance, when Lowell Herb Co. wanted to create a natural-looking carton for its pre-rolled joints, the company turned to its inhouse designer Mickey Waite for ideas. To emphasize the natural appeal of the pre-rolls, he designed a brown kraft, tuck-lidded carton with a blank label on the base where staff could write in the farm, blend and other hybrid info. But the most visually stunning part of the carton was its security feature: a holographic anti-theft top label from Hazen Paper. 

Mirroring the complex design of an upscale cigar band, the holographic label helped secure the lid in place. The colorful holography also provided an unexpected twist to the all-natural kraft packaging. Moreover, since the company was on a limited budget, it was able to save time and money by variable-data printing the security label with the cannabis strain and company logo, rather than printing it on each set of cartons.

The one piece of advice for those who need a tamper-resistant seal for their packaging? According to Waite, if the seal is eye-catching or unusually shaped, customers and store owners will be able to more easily see when the package has been opened. Even better: if the seal is tied into the overall design concept, it can enhance the brand identity as well.  

An appreciator of packaging that utilizes colorful special effects, Kim Guarnaccia provides copywriting, design and marketing to the print, packaging and paper multiverse. For more info, visit or email


Holographic Board and Labels

Mainline Holographics


Hazen Paper

Holographic Cold Foil

K Laser Technology

Holographic Cast and Cure

Breit Technologies

Packaging, Print, Design

Ross Print and Packaging

DPI Direct

DMS Color / Gold Leaf Packaging

Impress Communications

DiDio and Associates