How Cannabis Brand Managers Can Use UX and UI to Stay Compliant

May 3, 2023

Written by Highlyte

Any technical process, when applied to a creative one, can feel onerous if it’s approached from the wrong perspective. From SEO to cannabis compliance, treating analytical, structural or legal components as an afterthought can ultimately make more work in the long run. It’s far more effective for cannabis brand managers to approach marketing from a compliance-first perspective, as well as through the lens of the end-user journey.

Each consumer touch point along which your brand’s content is distributed ultimately needs to focus on both the user experience and user interface of compliance. User experience (UX) refers to the customer’s journey through your brand and how they engage with your products. UX, like marketing and branding, is about how your brand and products solve the problems faced by your target audience. 

What Are UX and UI for Cannabis Brands?

UX is concerned with how to help consumers interact with your brand and services in the way you want, guiding that customer to a satisfying solution. User interface (UI) is the aesthetic look, feel and elemental design features that tangibly guide the audience through the UX processes you’ve strategized. When combined, UX and UI add up to the customer journey. And the customer journey is really where successful cannabis marketing begins. 

By rooting your entire workflow in compliance as well as the customer’s experience you can begin to better understand where each touchpoint with your target audience might introduce risk to your organization. Once you’ve determined the UX principles of how you expect your customers to behave, and what actions they think they will take, it’s time to carefully think through the user interface, and how to ensure those components are compliant.

For example, if you want customers to visit your website and learn about your product line, that’s part of the user experience you’re trying to craft. The user interface that greets them should not only provide the kind of information the customer is looking for to solve a problem—which cannabis product to buy—it should also protect your brand from risk. In thinking through the available distribution methods, cannabis brand managers must ask themselves questions about how that website is designed, such as:


  • Is the website age-gated? 
  • If a customer clicks on a link, does the page on which they land have the appropriate license numbers and other mandatory information included? 
  • Is the copy informative and in an appropriate brand voice? Does it make health claims?
  • Does the imagery that appears on the website feature models under 35? Do you have cartoons or illustrations in a cartoony style? 
  • Do the product descriptions use terms like “stoner” “chronic” or “420?” Is the required dosing and potency information included?
  • Is the content UX compliant from an ADA accessibility perspective?

How Compliance and UX Shape Cannabis Brand Management

These questions and similar ones are the essence of the process for developing compliance cannabis marketing content that will still resonate with readers. Without looking at the UX and UI of compliance regulations, you’ll follow the letter but not the spirit of the law. Above all, it’s important to remember that compliant content doesn’t have to come at the cost of compelling messaging. And by baking compliance into your marketing team’s creative process from the outset, you can avoid costly revisions and scrapped campaigns in the future.

Ignore UX and UI and you risk turning customers off, serving them irrelevant information or losing their interest before they have a chance to absorb the marketing messaging you’ve worked so hard to develop. Ignore compliance, and you risk seeing valuable celebrity endorsements, carefully planned partnerships and expensive investments in copywriting, graphic design and social media turn into a shadowbanned Instagram account, a fine, or even a revoked cannabis license. 

In a way, compliance regulations are themselves a form of UX and UI to guide cannabis brand managers and marketing teams to their own successful solution—appealing content that doesn’t inadvertently introduce harm, misinformation or unintended consequences. The UX and UI of compliance can be greatly simplified and streamlined, too, by using a tool like Highlyte from the ideation phase to ensure all collateral is equally compliant. By the time your brand is ready to launch, or to release its latest advertising campaign, you’ll have a clear snapshot of your degree of risk—and can be confident in how both consumers and regulators will respond.

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