Harborside Health Center (now known simply as “Harborside”), the nation’s model cannabis company, celebrates its 10-year anniversary this week with an innovative design rebrand that will reinvent the original industry standard Harborside pioneered a decade ago, and has since been adopted nationwide. As a new era looms in light of California’s adult-use legalization measure, along with nine more states voting on cannabis laws on November’s ballot, Harborside co-founder Steve DeAngelo proclaims, “The revolution has just begun!”
After a decade of successful operation despite federal threats, Harborside is no stranger to groundbreaking work, introducing to the nascent cannabis industry laboratory testing, non-psychoactive CBD-rich medicines, and the treatment of children with intractable epilepsy. When Harborside opened in 2006, it was one of the initial six medical cannabis dispensaries licensed in the U.S. DeAngelo and Director of Design Yolanda Felix created a facility that welcomed patients with a beautifully designed, open space with hardwood floors, natural lighting, friendly and knowledgeable sales staff, and an expansive selection of cannabis products. Harborside has since influenced myriad dispensaries across the country, expanded its retail footprint, and added cultivation and manufacturing to its operations.
Ten years later, as 26 states have legalized medical cannabis, four states have legalized adult-use cannabis, and five more states (including California) are voting on adult-use in November, Harborside continues to be on the leading edge of this industry, with a new brand identity which reflects the changing times, the changing ways that consumers are using cannabis, as cannabis moves from subculture to mainstream culture.
Harborside’s Chief Marketing Officer, John Yost, began this design process very carefully and deliberately. Harborside’s rebranding was developed by careful study and conversation with patient-members, staff, and visitors to the dispensary. “The Harborside name and brand symbol are iconic in the cannabis world,” says Yost. “Any tinkering or updates had to be done with great care, so as not to disturb the bond that exists between Harborside and its members. We conducted several waves of consumer and stakeholder research before even starting the design phase, which helped us create a visible, new identity built on the foundational values of the organization.”
DeAngelo and his team also recognized that the world of cannabis was changing rapidly so they wanted to make sure that the Harborside business and brand were keeping up with the times, and continuing to be seen as the national leader it’s always been, as it welcomes new adopters to the conversation about this miraculous plant. “We are entering the era of Modern Cannabis,” he says.
DeAngelo further explains the dispensary’s transformation. “We see new product formats, formulations, consumption devices, and brands every day,” he says. “Our job is to introduce patients and consumers to the best of cannabis today, without sacrificing the timeless values this precious plant teaches us.”
Harborside’s original branding reflected the world of cannabis in 2006. The new branding reflects the legal reforms and increased social acceptance of cannabis over the past decade, and highlights the flagship role Harborside has played in bringing those changes about. The new mission statement reflects Harborside’s commitment to a values-based and community-focused approach. Harborside’s expertly curated selection of products showcases the industry’s most recent advances. And its bold new retail exteriors highlight the quality care, sustainability, diversity and innovation awaiting inside.
Yost says, “While the new logo feels fresh, distinctive and contemporary, the new mark continues to stand for the values that have always defined Harborside: Equality and compassion; a commitment to serve all constituents of our diverse community; a spirit of unity, in principle and practice.”
About the Design Team:
John Yost is the former founder and president of Black Rocket, a San Francisco-based ad agency known for its pivotal work with Yahoo! He was also the general manager of award-winning agency Hal Riney and Partners, as well as Chiat/Day in San Francisco.
Gabrielle Muse founded Mococo Muse in 2016, a boutique brand and product strategy shop. Prior to Mococo, she spent 15 years in the marketing industry leading strategy at shops including Wieden + Kennedy, Redscout, and West. Her work has helped brands as diverse as Nike, Braintree, Earnest, Gatorade, and Optimizely turn brand ambition into brand behavior.
Martin Grasser has created logo-marks and identity systems for some of today’s most exciting companies, including the Twitter bird, Tiger Woods, Kiva, Braintree, Anki, and Polyera. His work has even made its way to the Dalai Lama. He founded And Repeat in 2015 as a design studio focused on using art and design to accelerate business and inspire employees, investors, and customers.
Yolanda Felix is the originator of Harborside’s distinctive look, feel, customer experience, marketing, and branding. As a founding member of the Harborside team, her design leadership has made the Harborside flagship location at 1840 Embarcadero in Oakland an iconic symbol of the cannabis movement and patient care.