Top Packaging Design and Color Trends

By: phase1
March 15, 2019

Packaging design, like so many other things, has trends that come and go. These developments influence the colors, shapes, fonts, patterns, materials and more used in the packaging for the products people see when shopping in stores and online. New technologies, shifting customer expectations and other factors can all impact packaging trends.

Understanding the current trends can help companies decide which packaging design elements are right for their products. Keeping tabs on what’s popular can help you better understand what customers are looking for, give you new design ideas and help you make your product stand out from the competition.

You don’t have to follow every fad. Instead, you should use your knowledge on the latest design trends to help you choose the packaging that works best for your product.

Below are some of the top packaging design and color trends of today. They range from a resurgence of vintage design and the use of bold colors to the incorporation of environmentally friendly materials. Here are the trends you need to know.

1. Simple Designs

When trying to design packaging that stands out, your first thought might be to make something so intricate and wild that people can’t miss it. This approach may work, but when the competition is using elaborate designs, you sometimes need to go back to basics to get people’s attention. The trend of simple packaging designs typically resurfaces every so often after more complex designs start to become common.

In our fast-paced world, simplicity can be beneficial, as it enables people to quickly determine what a product is and whether they want to buy it. Simple designs can also help with brand recognition. A simple design conveys a company knows what it is and what it stands for. It can help customers connect with your brand, as there’s a clear brand personality and fewer details to remember.

To create a successful simple design, you need to use symbols and copy that will get your message across in as few characters as possible. Don’t incorporate too many elements. Instead, let each element shine on its own.

Using simplicity in packaging design works well for products that don’t require a lot of explaining, often something customers are already familiar with. It also works well for “natural” products in food, beauty and other sectors. A selling point of these products is that they have minimal ingredients, so a simple packaging design compliments that.

2. Personalization

Everything’s becoming more personalized. Instead of consuming mass media, people get their news from social media feeds tailored to their interests. Instead of buying mass-marketed shoes, you can custom-design a pair online. People can now even buy 3D printers and manufacture one-of-a-kind items from anywhere. Packaging, too, is following this trend toward personalization.

Why is personalization so popular? It gives the customer more choice. People also like unique products, especially when they’re customized for them. It helps the customer form a connection to the product as well as the company behind it.

A well-known example of this approach to packaging comes from Coca-Cola. The company put more than 1,000 different names on Coke bottles so customers could find bottles with their names on them. They also sold customized Coke bottles on their website.

Including personalization in your marketing could work for any product an individual might use on their own, rather than share. This enables you to personalize the packaging toward one individual and helps the customer connect with the item.

You have various options when it comes to packaging personalization. You can create several personalized variations of your design and let customers find what fits them. You can also create unique packaging for each customer. For example, when someone places an order online, you can print their name on the packaging or on a card you put inside of it.

3. Vintage Designs

Trends go in cycles. What was once popular but fell out of favor tends to come back eventually. As a result, some vintage design elements are coming back into fashion.

Companies may also opt for vintage design if they want their brand to have an old-timey charm or a style reminiscent of a particular era. Sometimes, it’s just fun to look back on the past.

These are a few of the reasons why vintage-style packaging is gaining popularity.

Vintage packaging can work well as novelty, limited-edition packaging that customers will want to collect. Brands which have been around for a long time can go back to designs they used in the past. Doing so reminds customers of the company’s longevity and continual commitment to quality.

You may also want an old-school style to be part of your everyday design. New brands may also want to use vintage packaging design if their product reminds people of a certain period. For example, a company that makes cowboy boots may use old western-style fonts and graphics on their packaging.

You might also want your brand to have an old-timey feel but not necessarily from a specific era. Using classic design looks for your packaging will give your brand an air of dependability, comfort and simplicity.

4. Eco-Friendly Materials and Designs

Today, many companies are working to make their packaging more environmentally friendly. This is in response to pressure from consumers stemming from a growing awareness of environmental problems, such as pollution and climate change, and how humans cause them. People now realize the products they buy influence how eco-friendly their lifestyle is, so they look for products that will help them live greener. This is especially common with younger generations. Seventy percent of Millennial shoppers say they take a companies’ environmental policies into account when making purchase decisions.

How can you make your packaging more eco-friendly? There are various changes you can make. Using materials that are easy to recycle, such as cardboard, aluminum and certain kinds of plastic, can help. Minimizing the amount of packaging you use will also help limit its environmental impact.

Make sure you clearly print recycling information on your packaging. To help appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, you should also prominently display information about the environmental benefits of your packaging and product. Using earthy colors like greens and browns can help display your company’s dedication to the environment. Of course, you need to make sure you can back up all of your environmental claims to avoid being accused of “greenwashing,” which could damage your reputation.

5. Illustrations

Using illustrations on packaging isn’t a new idea, but it’s one gaining popularity. More and more companies are including intricate drawings, simple doodles and hand-written text on their packaging to create a unique, down-to-earth feel.

Illustrations can help attract shoppers to a product and then draw them in and make them want to learn more. A picture is worth a thousand words, and that saying certainly holds true when it comes to packaging. Illustrations can tell a story, convey a mood or explain the benefits of your product.

Many companies are also using simple, handmade-looking drawings and lettering on their packaging. These types of illustrations convey a casual, fun feel and add a personal touch to your packaging. They remind shoppers that there’s a person behind your company and helps them connect with your brand on an emotional level.

Illustrations are ideal for when you want to give your packaging a casual, personal feel. This approach works well for products which could be handmade, such as food and drink items and beauty products.

To add an even more personal feel, try commissioning art from local artists. If you have a small local brand, work with artists in your local community. If you sell your product across a broader area, work with artists from various locations and put their name and hometown on your packaging. You can also try asking your customers to send in drawings or doodles for you to use.

6. Sleek Designs

This trend goes against some of the other ones on this list, but it’s another popular choice among today’s packaging designers. Sleek, modern packaging design is gaining popularity for its ability to give a product a sophisticated, contemporary look.

Sleek designs are usually relatively simple. They often use long, clean lines and sans serif fonts. The colors are critical to the overall design. To make your design look sleeker, choose color palettes that are simple and bold. Use only two or three colors. Black and white is a common choice when you want your packaging to have a sophisticated style. You can also incorporate metallic effects in silver or gold to suggest luxury and wealth. Also, be sure to stay away from informal wording in your copy.

This type of design will work well if you want your brand to have a modern, stylish feel. You might use it for beauty products, wine and other items customers may associate with luxury.

7. Special Edition Packaging

Special edition packaging can be a great way to spark interest in your brand, boost sales and get a little creative with your packaging design. Due to past successes, this packaging tactic is gaining popularity. Here are some tips for executing it properly:

  • Have an established reputation: Creating special edition packaging works best if you already have an established brand and consumers know what your typical packaging looks like. If you want to use special edition packaging but don’t have a well-established brand, you can use the next tip to counteract this.
  • Incorporate special events: Special events are an excellent time to put out special edition packaging. You can use it to celebrate, for example, the anniversary of your company. You can also create packaging themed around a holiday, sports championship or another high-profile event. Basing your special edition packaging on a well-known event allows you to incorporate familiar elements and can spark interest from consumers even if they don’t know your brand.
  • Make it collectible: If your packaging is collectible, it may make customers more likely to purchase it. Make sure your packaging is durable enough that people can keep it. Try creating multiple versions of your special edition and encouraging customers to collect them all.
  • Emphasize scarcity: When you introduce your limited edition packaging, make sure you emphasize that it will only be available for a limited time. Because customers know it won’t be around forever, they’ll make their purchase decision more quickly. This also avoids confusion by reminding customers that your special edition packaging isn’t going to be your standard packaging.
  • Stay on brand: Although you’re changing elements of your packaging, you still need to make sure all of the new elements work with your brand identity. You can introduce new ideas but don’t do anything that contradicts what the brand you’ve built stands for. Doing so can hurt your brand identity and confuse customers.

8. Bold Designs

Companies are increasingly making bold choices with their packaging. Bright colors, large fonts and dynamic patterns are taking center stage in much of today’s packaging design.

Color is one element with which you can go bold. Choose strong, vibrant colors to catch people’s attention and help them remember your brand. Color is essential in shoppers’ decision-making processes. One famous study found people make up their minds about most products within 90 seconds of their initial interaction with it, and color is the basis of between 62 and 90 percent of that evaluation.

Different colors can evoke different feelings, so choose one that compliments your product. Colors can even make people hungry. You can also use colors to differentiate between variations within a product family.

Large, bold fonts can help your product stand out from competing products. Choose distinctive words that will get people’s attention. You might incorporate humor to get a reaction from shoppers. Using unique patterns and shapes can also make your packaging more eye-catching.

Bold packaging works well for brands that want to be seen as modern, fresh and dynamic. It works well for lifestyle products since customers often feel like they’re making a statement with these items. Bold packaging design complements that notion.

Get Inspiration for Your New Packaging Design

Did these trends spark any new ideas you could use for your packaging? You can use them as a source of inspiration for packaging that will help you improve your sales and your brand recognition. When it comes time to update your packaging, keep these trends in mind.

Once you design your new packaging, you can test out your new concepts using prototypes. Phase 1 Prototypes can produce these mock-ups using a variety of materials and print specifications. To learn more about how we can help you update your packaging, contact us today.


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