Zack Darling

CEO of The Hybrid Creative

Zack’s presentations are a dynamic and thought-provoking look into building meaningful brands in the cannabis industry, leaving the audience empowered with useful tools and clear understanding of the steps ahead. We hope you will consider booking him for your upcoming event.

Zack Darling

Zack Darling

Chief Eternal Optimist

Available For:

  • Panel Discussions
  • Workshops & Work Sessions
  • Keynote Presentations
  • Moderator
  • Emcee

Areas of Expertise:

  • Brand Strategy
  • Cannabis Brand Development
  • Marketing & Promotion
  • Naming & Trademark Strategy
  • Graphic Design
  • Copyright Protection

High Res Bio Headshots: 1 | 2 | 3

Zack Darling is the CEO (Chief Eternal Optimist) at The Hybrid Creative, a thriving digital creative agency in Santa Rosa, Ca. focused on cannabis, hydroponics and medical marijuana ventures. He co-founded the parent company, ZDCA Design & Development in 2009 with his colleague, Kate Schneider, who serves as President and CTO. The Hybrid Creative brings to the table a wide variety of skills with a primary focus on brand strategy, design, product packaging, web development and marketing solutions. The agency was recently acquired by cannabis industry heavy hitters Kush Bottles, a move that will help to grow The Hybrid into an international creative force in a quickly expanding industry. Zack launched his first design business, Greenfield Graphics, in 1997 where he first began creating brands and marketing materials for the music industry, sustainable ventures, and the young hydroponics industry. Since then, he has acted as Creative Director for thousands of industry-related projects. He has been a featured speaker at The Emerald Cup, Elevated Cannabis Compliance Conference, Women Grow, Sonoma County Grower’s Alliance events and many others. In 2015 Zack’s interests in focusing his attention the cannabis, hydroponics and medical marijuana industries was further strengthened when ZDCA launched its subsidiary cannabis agency, The Hybrid Creative. The Hybrid Creative is known as “Northern California’s homegrown creative agency” due to the lifelong immersion Zack has had in the industry’s rich and colorful history. Having been raised on Greenfield Ranch, a hippie commune in the hills of Mendocino County in the Emerald Triangle, Zack has been exposed to the cannabis culture his entire life and is truly “second generation.” With a broad perspective that ranges from the front lines of the war on drugs to building brand strategy for many of California’s most prominent cannabis businesses, Zack offers unique context and perspective toward the importance of building a meaningful brand. As a public speaker, panelist or workshop facilitator, Zack’s charismatic presentation style brings to light the importance of creating value-based brands and provides useful tools to the audience. His keen ability to turn the focus of the conversation away from the stage and toward the attendees leaves them with a sense that they have taken important steps in the soul-searching process of building or growing their cannabis brand.

Key messaging includes:

  • The Value of Authenticity
  • Identifying Your “Why”
  • Building a Value-Based Brand
  • Differentiation in a Crowded Marketplace
  • Brand Voice, Personality and Archetype
  • Creating A Strong Brand Story & Narrative
  • Naming & Trademark Protection Strategy
  • Product Design, Packaging & Compliance
  • Identifying Your Target Demographic
  • Understanding Your Competition
  • The Importance of Resonance
  • Radical Differentiation in the Cannabis Industry
  • Cannabis Industry Disruption

Throughout his 43 years, he’s been an active environmentalist, community activist, and event organizer. He was the lead producer of Harmony Festival’s night concerts for 13 years, the North Bay Burning Man representative for 7 years, two-time winner of the Bohemian’s “Best DJ in the North Bay” award, and the graphic designer behind many iconic festivals and concerts in Northern California and beyond. He was awarded the North Bay Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” award, and his agency continues to be the undefeated winner of the North Bay Bohemian’s “Best Digital Creative Services” award. In 2016 The Hybrid Creative was awarded “Women Grow Business of the Year” by the Sonoma County chapter. Zack Darling will be a dynamic and thought provoking addition to your upcoming conference, expo or workshop. We hope you will consider booking him.

“I had the pleasure of hearing Zack speak on a panel focused on a variety of different aspects of the cannabis industry. As a fellow cannabis industry professional who has heard and seen it all, I found his perspective on the industry to be incredibly unique and refreshing. On top of that, he was also a fantastic and engaging (and entertaining!) speaker, so much so that I requested his participation in an upcoming panel the very next day”

Tamar Maritz
California Regional Director
BDS Analytics, Inc.

“I have had the distinct pleasure of sitting on a panel with Zack Darling on the topic of brand development and protection. As a trademark attorney, I have always found Zack’s contributions to be incredibly insightful and practical, and as a co-panelist he certainly did not disappoint. Zack’s energy and enthusiasm for his work shine through in all that he does, and his public speaking is no exception. I admire Zack’s commitment to providing useful, concrete guidance to audience members, never using his platform to make a sales pitch. Cannabis and non-cannabis industry audiences will be well-served by hearing Zack’s thoughts on developing a compelling and engaging brand presence that aligns with company values and resonates with customers.”
Amanda R. Conley
Brand & Branch LLP

“Zack Darling is an engaging speaker with a refreshing perspective. It is clear that his presentations are fueled by his passion for sharing information and instilling inspiration in others. His experience in the industry and his ability to connect with others is profound! Zack is a valuable speaker with much to share!”

Ilana ‘Sugar’ Laytart
CEO and Co-Founder – Giggle Therapeutics
Former Sonoma County Chair – Women Grow

“Zack is knowledgeable, personable and excellent choice as a speaker with expertise in cannabis branding, marketing and packaging.”
Joanna Cedar
Sonoma County Grower’s Alliance


Zack Darling is the CEO (Chief Eternal Optimist) at The Hybrid Creative, a thriving creative agency in Santa Rosa, California, focused on cannabis, hydroponics and medical marijuana ventures. His 20+ years experience in branding, design and marketing serve as a wealth of valuable information that he loves to share with fellow entrepreneurs. Having been raised on a hippie commune by pot growers in the Emerald Triangle, he is truly “second generation.” With a broad perspective that ranges from the front lines of the war on drugs to building brand strategy for many of California’s most prominent cannabis businesses, Zack offers unique context and perspective toward the importance of building a meaningful brand in the cannabis space. Zack’s presentations are rooted in his core belief that the most successful brands are fueled by authenticity. His favorite topics include, Cannabis Brand Strategy & Marketing, Identifying Your “Why”, Building a Value-Based Brand, Differentiation in a Crowded Marketplace, Brand Voice, Personality and Archetype, Creating A Strong Brand Story & Narrative, Naming & Trademark Protection Strategy, Product Design, Packaging & Compliance, Identifying Your Target Demographic, Understanding Your Competition, The Importance of Resonance, and Cannabis Industry Disruption & Differentiation.

Zack has presented and participated in panel discussions at the following events:

  • Women Grow – July 2015
  • The Emerald Cup – 2015, 2017, 2018
  • Elevated Cannabis Compliance Conference – April 2016
  • CannaCon – April 2017
  • Cannabis Design & Packaging class at Santa Rosa Junior College – May 2017
  • Sonoma County Growers Association – Packaging Design Presentation, Branding Workshops 2015 – 2019
  • Cannabis & Cocktails event at Catalyst SF – Feb 2017
  • Cannabis Marketing Association event at Harvest – Building Brand Awareness for Recreational Cannabis in California – March 2017
  • Bar Association of San Francisco – Trademark & Intellectual Property in the Cannabis Industry – July 2017
  • Green Flower Media Master Class: Don’t be Just Another Pot Brand – December 2017
  • Green Flower Industry Summit – 10 Steps to Building a Successful Cannabis Brand – June 2018
  • NCIA / CCIA California Cannabis Business Conference – Protect Your Brand Panel – Oct 2018
  • The Emerald Cup – Cannabis Branding: From Strategy and Packaging to IP Panel – Dec 2018
  • ICBC San Francisco – Industry Disruptors Panel – Feb 2019

Book Zack to Speak at Your Next Event!

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