When I first started at True North Vapor, I was selling eGO starter kits from behind a Buy Shop counter. I was content to have a retail job, and while I did have a background in graphic design, I never imagined that I’d be putting those skills to use in this industry. I applied for a new graphic design position internally, and I was overjoyed when they told me they’d give me a shot. Since then, it’s been a whirlwind. I had to learn a lot about digital design, and most importantly, about e-liquid label laws.
Fast forward several years and I found myself as the sole designer for the company, working feverishly in Photoshop as I created promotional artwork for our website.
Then came time to help develop new brands. I was part of a wonderful team that was full of great ideas about the concept, but the hard part is what I had to learn to do quickly: What is this bottle going to look like?
Back then, I would design several mock logos and the team would choose from my collection. Then, I’d make any changes we thought the brand would need, and voila. We had an e-liquid brand, complete with label, logo, and accompanying promotional artwork. But it’s not quite as easy, now.
Now that we’re much more aware of the restrictions laid out by Bill S-5, there is a very important question to ask: Is my design going to be appealing to kids? Everything from the logo to the flavour names need to be considered, and you’re starting to see how this is changing the look of e-liquid bottles across the country.
One of my tasks is to aid the transition of international e-liquid brands into Canada by taking their existing labels and helping to make them compliant in Canada. Since regulations are different in international markets, much of the artwork I’ve seen on their labels include elements such as mascots, desserts, and fun-sounding flavours that just aren’t going to be compliant in Canada. I then need to recommend altering the artwork, often by removing those elements entirely. We have meetings to discuss alternate names for flavours (Cinnamon Bun? How about…Cinna-Swirl?) and work with the brand owners to ensure that we’re working within their guidelines. At the end of the day, however, it all needs to be compliant. We do try to keep the overall look of the brand the same, but more often than not the end result is something quite different from how that label would have appeared on U.S. shelves.
Canadian manufacturers went through a very similar transition several years ago when word of this new Bill got out. They had a deadline now, so many owners had to take a long hard look at their labels and decide which design elements just weren’t going to fly. It was difficult for some, as many owners had poured their heart and soul into the themes and concepts that made up their lines. Friendly characters had to be removed, delicious-looking pictures of chocolate bars and ice cream had to go, and even the names of the flavours themselves had to be generalized.
By now, every brand owner is very aware of what can and cannot be included in the artwork on their label. With bottling facilities like Dvine Laboratories helping to keep labels compliant as well, the end result is an almost unified look to every bottle of e-liquid sold in Canada. The artwork may differ, but there’s no doubt in anyone’s minds now that great strides have been taken to keep these products in the hands of adults, and not their children.
~ Adam Ryckman
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