Bringing the exciting story of Howard Marks, espionage and cannabis to life.

  • Area of work

  • Branding
  • Packaging
  • Website design
  • Website development


An exciting opportunity arose whilst at A Studio, to design the brand and packaging for Mr Nice, a cannabis brand setup by the family of Howard Marks that would speak to his legacy and continue his philanthropic work. The story around Howard Marks and how he became one of the world’s most wanted cannabis barons sounds almost like something out of a film. From graduating from Oxford as a nuclear physics and philosophy graduate to smuggling cannabis in the drumkits of Pink Floyd, the story of Howard Marks became well known throughout Britain. Howard was famously acquitted of the largest importation of cannabis into Britain after claiming that his involvement was on behalf of MI6 but a decade later was arrested by the DEA at the height of the drug war and sentenced to 25 years in prison. After serving seven years in one of the US’ toughest penitentiaries he was released on parole and started writing his best selling autobiography, Mr Nice. This is the autobiography that inspired the name for the family’s company and the legacy they wanted us to help continue.

We wanted the brand to be recognizable to the millions of people familiar with Howard’s story. With this in mind we looked to the graphic styling of the book for inspiration. Taking the Franklin Gothic typeface and refining it for a modern audience. We wanted the identity to be simple and practical, so we composed the “MR” within the “N” to create a wordmark that at first glance read “NICE”. This allowed the brand to insert itself into brand statements and become a mark that clearly communicated the brand’s purpose, to spread the power of being nice through cannabis culture.

When it came to designing the packaging, We were spoiled for inspiration. Howard was famous for creatively packaging his product before shipping it around the world, so we delved into the family archive to discover some hidden stories. We discovered that when shipping hash from Bangladesh and Pakistan, Howard used classic tea tins to hide the shipment. This inspired us to design a custom and modern tea tin to store CBD flower. Not only is the tin functional in its air-tight quality, but it also served as a distinctive and own able brand structure to leverage.