Despite the fact that customer loyalty is largely determined by the quality of a product, the packaging is the first thing a potential consumer sees.
Furthermore, the experience of receiving and unboxing a product allows customers to connect with a brand on a deeper level.
Businesses of all sizes understand this.
As a result, Brands are investing more money in unique packaging design.
However, what exactly should a company look for when it comes to product design?
A good idea would be to look at the latest trends.
Trends are mysterious things.
Some disappear as quickly as they appear, others stay active for years.
There are also a select few trends that evolve.
Thus, they transform into the driving forces behind new trends.
It is important to note that, as far as design trends are concerned, 2016 was tumultuous.
The federal elections and other stressful events permeated throughout the year.
2017 started on a more optimistic note and promised fresh ideas.
I expect many of this year’s packaging designs to emphasise the idea of unity and shared experiences.
With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at:
The most creative packaging design trends for 2017
1. Bold and Minimalist Designs
Clear and uncluttered designs have always been well-received.
As a matter of fact, designs that go back to the basics have a tendency to resurface throughout the years.
This year, it would seem, designers are emphasising the power of minimalistic design, great colours, and concise messages more than ever.
In the words of a famous architect: “Less is more”.
The idea behind a minimalist design is to create a package that elevates the product.
This type of packaging design should highlight the most important features.
In a fast-paced world, where customers only take a few seconds to make up their minds, a bold and minimalistic package design can make the difference.
Examples of bold & minimalistic packaging designs: Tapped: Birch Water, The Primal Kitchen, Mast Brothers Chocolate Bars, SOTO Bottle.
2. Building a Narrative
As I mentioned in the introduction, packaging design is not just about the creative use of colours or elements.
It’s about shared stories, emotions, and unity.
A great package should convey some message that allows customers to connect with your brand.
One of the most interesting package design trends of 2017 revolves around the art of story-telling through illustrations.
What’s important to your customers should also be relevant to your brand.
By developing a strategic understanding of cultural trends or using behavioural insights, you can add a human touch to your marketing campaigns and build meaningful narratives.
Examples of packaging designs with narratives: Elderbrook labels, SmashMallow (designed by Owen Davey), Fornum & Mason, etc.
3. Unique Printing Techniques
For publishing connoisseurs, few things are more thrilling than a package enclosed in an elegantly designed cover.
Serving as an extension of the product itself, paper packaging must meet certain criteria to be safely delivered to the customer.
This is when unique printing techniques become an essential part of the creative process.
There are several printing techniques that you should look out for:
Flexography (the modern version of letterpress) is a form of publication that utilises flexible relief plates.
This technique can be used to print on various materials suitable for packaging, including plastic, cellophane, paper, and metallic films.
Digital printing is one of the fastest growing creative segments.
Various printing techniques are expected to develop further in 2017: spot matte and gloss.
Cutting carbon is preferred by companies that care about the effect that printing has on the environment.
Recycled materials are also being used in various packaging designs.
4. Social by Design
The least visually creative, but easily the most engaging, social packaging allows customers to act as mini-CMOs for their favourite brands.
In 2017, creating a limited edition package or product for consumers demonstrates that you are listening to them.
Coca-Cola has the most iconic example of social product packaging.
It’s “Share a Coke with” campaign took the concept, as simple as sharing a drink with a buddy, and transformed it into a new form of packaging.
The company’s 3D holiday label was also successful because it changed a simple drink into a holiday cheer.
More and more Brands are listening to their fans on social media and engaging with the help of personal package designs.
For example, a national beer company (Blue Moon) started a campaign called Artist Series that showcased local artists through its labels.
These are only a few examples of simple, yet effective social packaging designs.
5. Custom Lettering
Designers love to get creative with their lettering.
Crafting your typeface for a logo can reveal new things about your brand.
Fluid imperfections, irregularities, or quirky letter details can add warmth to your brand and set it apart from other digital designs.
This human touch can help you connect with your audience because it has a wholesome handmade nostalgia.
2017 has seen a huge comeback in custom lettering.
Hand-lettering, in particular, is preferred by photographers and hand-made shops.
6. Vintage Packaging Design Inspiration
The old trend, ironically, is one of the strongest trends in the world of packaging design.
It evolves every year through the use of new materials, technologies, and printing solutions.
Vintage packaging design has a distinctive flair that makes it resonate through time.
This is probably because it evokes the memories of an older generation and peaks the interest of a younger generation, eager to understand the past.
What makes vintage packaging design successful is its ability to balance modern aesthetics, while evoking nostalgic design elements from our yesteryears.
Vintage inspiration design is typical for alcoholic beverages, speciality foods, hipster fashion, and hand-made products.
7. Textured & Laser Cut Packaging
From prototype, construction to packaging design, texturing and laser cutting represents innovative new techniques.
Laser cutting allows the creation of intricate designs, 3D layering, and interesting cut-outs.
There are also many materials such as balsa, wood, or carton that are sturdy, as well as familiar.
Laser cut packages are sturdy enough to handle rough transportation and are easy to customise.
I expect 3D printing and laser cutting techniques to become even more popular throughout 2017, especially since the latter can be used on recycled materials.
As far as texturing is concerned, it is a well-known fact that designers have been imbuing their creations with different textures to improve their physical quality.
After all, sight is not the only sense that is engaged in the unboxing ritual.
Texturing can give customers a hint of what’s inside and create a sense of anticipation.
The most popular forms of texturing right now are paper pulp (eco-friendly design trend), topographic mapping, marbling, and narrative motifs.
8. Bold Pattern Repetition
Pattern repetition has always had a special place in the creation of unique designs.
This creative technique can be seen in hundreds of designs, old and new.
The repetition of certain visual motifs can help a brand transmit a strong message, especially when the pattern is meaningful for the company.
The idea of pattern repetition may sound simple, but it requires a delicate hand to create a dynamic design.
When used correctly, pattern repetition can encapsulate the essence of a brand.
Whether you decide to go with a bold motif, or a playful interplay of aesthetics, make sure you stay faithful to the voice of your brand.
Examples of successful brand repetitions: Austin Beerworks, Bob Studio (food), Napa Valley, SuperEats, etc.
9. Ingenious Cutting
One of my favourite packaging trends for 2017 is clever cutting.
Most traditional packages hide the contents.
Modern designers are experimenting with new ideas that expose the inside and integrate it into the design of the box.
Integration can be achieved with the help of tactile interaction or by forming identifiable shapes quickly using the contents of the package.
10. Speciality Packaging & Custom Structures
Speciality packaging presses the limit of packaging design and requires extra finesse.
Every successful brand should attempt to challenge the norm in a way.
Speciality packaging means thinking outside the box.
Speciality packaging can come under the form of uniquely shaped packages, experimenting with elegantly functional designs, and mixing it up with special coatings and exotic substrates.
Note: this packaging design for Ozmetics features an interplay of colours united through the technique of marbling (mentioned earlier).
Custom structures have been mainly embraced by designers of alcoholic beverages, who are willing to incur substantial costs to make their product stand apart from others.
Custom arrangements may not be a new trend, but it is certainly one that will be used for years to come.
Simplistic products can be significantly elevated by the subtle aesthetics of custom structures.
A great example in the non-alcoholic beverage industry is the Icelandic Glacial water, which imitates ice glaciers.
This concludes our list of 10 biggest packaging design trends for 2017
Did we miss a trend? Let us know in the comments below!