The Founder Is Ben of Ben & Jerry’s
Ben’s Best Blnz (B3) is a new cannabis company founded by Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, that will invest 100% of its profits back into the Black cannabis community and groups advocating for criminal justice reform. Pentagram partner Eddie Opara and team have collaborated closely with Cohen on a brand identity framework and packaging for B3 that features the work of Black artists and designers and conveys the company’s message of activism with typography inspired by protest graphics.
The branding is driven by typefaces created by Black designers and rooted in historical context. These center on a group of fonts from Vocal Type Foundry, founded by Tré Seals, that highlight pieces of history from a specific underrepresented race, ethnicity or gender — from the Civil Rights Movement in the US to the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Argentina. Supporting type is set in Halyard, created by Joshua Darden. The logo itself embodies transformation with letterforms that can shift in size and scale or act as a window for images.
Sustainability is a priority for B3, and Pentagram worked on each element of the packaging to make as much of the line sustainably produced and recyclable as possible. The team avoided typical plastic solutions like child-proof pouches and instead focused on recyclable and renewable materials such as tin, glass, metal and cardboard.
Packaging is covered in calls to action to decarcerate and deschedule cannabis along with powerful quotes from Black leaders like Angela Davis and Nelson Mandela and B3’s mission statement. Some type on the tins is embossed, giving them a tactile quality, and type also covers the slipcases and belly bands that go around the containers, as well as the fold-out insert inside. “The packaging is deliberately heavy on type and text; it is designed to be explored and discovered over time as the reusable tin lays around the house,” says Cohen.
The immersive typography is layered with visuals by Black artists.; B3 launches with two commissioned pieces, one from the multimedia artist Dana Robinson and the other from Opara himself. Robinson’s piece follows the processes of her Ebony Reprinted series, in which advertisements and imagery taken from Ebony magazine are translated into smeared, pressed and textured monoprints that eliminate the original intent of the inherently white, capitalist and commercial visual language. Opara’s photo collage depicts the profile of a Black man in an orange incarceration jumpsuit, with his face and hair built from images of flowers – a play on marijuana’s flower or bud.
The Pentagram Project Team includes Eddie Opara, partner-in-charge and creative director; Jack Collins, associate partner and designer; Raoul Gottschling, designer; Ruben Gijselhart, designer; and Dana Reginiano, project manager. Typeface design is by Vocal Type Foundry and Darden Studio.