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Creative Packaging Design: Elevating Product Branding

Creative Packaging Design: Elevating Product Branding

Do you know that feeling when you find a package so visually appealing that you just have to pick it up? That is the power of creative packaging design. In a world of options and noise, well-thought-out packaging cuts through all the distractions. It seizes attention, provokes curiosity and creates an emotional bond between people and the brand.

However, creative packaging goes beyond beauty; it is a vital marketing tool that can significantly affect buying decisions. Imagine walking along grocery shop shelves stacked with various items, including packets of biscuits. One has a dull brown box, while another displays lively colours and an artistically drawn scenario. Which one would attract your attention more? Exactly.

Before reading any words written on it, unique wrapping speaks volumes already. Therefore, let us explore imaginative branding, where designers act like magicians, turning standard containers into irresistible artwork in present-day society.

Why Creative Packaging Design Matters

Future Of Reusable Packaging Design

Brains can be wired to adore beauty. According to researchers, good-looking product packaging can fire up the reward centres in our brains, leading to dopamine release; you know what that means- feeling good.

You may not believe it, but even if these creative packages have the same content as their plain competitors, people will still think they are of better quality. Somehow, it’s like some sort of magic spell is cast on us by this wrapping before we get opened up or tried out by ourselves.

However, being visually appealing isn’t just about standing out on store shelves. Creative packaging also:

  • Builds brand identity and recall
  • Communicates core product attributes (luxury, sustainability, fun etc.)
  • Tells stories which create emotional connections between brands and customers
  • Delivers share-worthy unboxing moments (essential in today’s video-sharing age)
  • Sets products apart from others when markets are crowded with similar options

Some situations call for not judging books based on their covers, right? Wrong! Product packaging is where creativity becomes marketing gold.

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Elements of Captivating Packaging Design

Beverage Packaging Design Example

You're sold on the importance of creative packaging, but what ingredients go into an attention-grabbing design? While trends ebb and flow, these key elements reign supreme:

Art and Illustrations

If packaging is the canvas, vivid illustrations and artwork are the masterpieces that adorn it. From whimsical characters to intricately detailed scenery, custom artwork allows brands to narrate their story and persona visually.

Take Toronto-based company Ivory, for instance. Their vegan milk cartons feature striking elephant illustrations amidst a vibrant jungle scene. At a glance, this design exudes the brand's ethical, natural, and exotic allure.

Bold Colour Palettes

Have you noticed how specific colours just call to you? Whether eye-catching neons or profoundly saturated jewel tones, daring colour combinations pack a visceral punch. They're disruptive, memorable, and capable of symbolising brand identity at a glance.

U.K. company Tony's Chocolonely takes this concept to heart with their shockingly loud teal and fluorescent accents. These hues firmly plant the brand in the fair-trade ethical chocolate space while giving it an unmistakable edge.

Unconventional Shapes and Structures

Who says packaging has to be a standard box or cylinder? Getting imaginative with shapes jolts consumers from their trance-like supermarket meanderings. Distinctive silhouettes are intriguing and spark curiosity about a product before it's lifted off the shelf.

Remember those iconic curvy Coca-Cola bottles? Their hourglass shape made them stand out in a blur of cylinders. And the sharply slanted “Toblerone” logo matches the brand's signature triangular chocolate bar shape. This harmonious packaging strategy reinforces brand recognition and shelf appeal.

Tactile Textures and Materials

We all know better than to judge books solely by their covers. But in product packaging? The feeling is undoubtedly part of the experience. Raised patterns, soft-touch velvetized coatings, and sustainably sourced materials like kraft and wood engage the sense of touch. This tangible delight deepens the product interaction and connection to the brand's identity.

Typography and Wordmarks

Packaging real estate is limited, so the words you choose and how you style them matter immensely. Custom-crafted typographic logos and wordmarks are compact brand ambassadors with mighty staying power. Think Coca-Cola's iconic scripted logo or Nutella's mouthwateringly chunky font—both ingrained in our visual lexicon.

Well-designed text hierarchy and layouts also enhance legibility amidst the visual intricacies. When typography complements the overall branding aesthetic and concept, it's the cherry on top of an overly creative package.

Innovative Packaging Design Spotlights

Ready to see packaging creativity in action? Let's explore some brands bringing their A-game to shelf space near you:

1. The Rainforest Alliance's “A World Alive” Product Certification Seals

Product certifications like Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance can feel overly corporate and dull. Not these babies! The new “A World Alive” seals are whimsical, forest-themed illustrations celebrating the biodiversity these organisations aim to protect. Vibrant, scenic, and tucked amidst product branding like hidden gems, they seamlessly enliven green-focused packaging.

Creative Packaging Design Ideas

2. Líra Garment Care – Biopack Dissolvable Detergent Packs

Talk about outside-the-box innovation! Líra's Biopack detergent pouches ditch plastic packaging entirely. Instead, the cleaning formula comes pressed into an organic dissolvable film made from wood pulp and other plant fibres. Just toss the pack in your wash, and it dissolves, leaving no trace! Plus, each film is embedded with seeds to grow wildflowers once discarded. Talk about a refreshing take on sustainable packaging.

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3. Seedlip's Sophisticated Non-Alcoholic Spirit Bottles

With non-alcoholic beverage sales rising, Seedlip seized the white space as the first distilled “non-alcoholic spirit” brand. Their bottle designs beautifully convey the beverages' refined, botanical essence through minimalist illustrations of fruits, herbs, and florals. The slim cylindrical bottle shapes, monochromatic colourways, and gossamer patterns evoke the sophistication of top-shelf liquors while nodding to the healthy (and hangover-free) nature of Seedlip's drinks.

Seedlip Creative Packaging Design Example

4. Supreme's Playfully Branded Skateboards and Accessories

Teenagers might crave radical, over-the-top packaging, but streetwear giant Supreme flips that notion. Their simplistically branded decks, apparel, and accessories rely on clean, minimalist elements. The signature bright red box logo balances its recognisable graphics against plain white backgrounds and textures like wood grain or camouflage. Consistent, iconic, and undeniably cool—these low-key designs keep Supreme's cult following hooked.

5. Cadbury's Wildly Imaginative Easter Candy Characters

Who says seasonal packaging has to be forgettable? Not Cadbury. For Easter, their iconic cream-filled eggs undergo wild transformations, visually moulding them into fire-breathing bunnies, fuzzy chicks sporting shades, and other anthropomorphised characters and scenes. Cadbury leans into childlike creativity and whimsy in an over-the-top yet delightful way.

Cadbury Easter Packaging Design Example

Creative Packaging Design Trends to Watch

Like most significant art and design trends, creative packaging's future will continue blurring boundaries and breaking conventions. Here are some thought-provoking trajectories shaping the industry:

D2C Brands Leverage Unboxing Moments

Direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands recognise the entire consumer journey, including ceremonious product unveiling—aka unboxing. YouTube stars have elevated this ritual to a video genre of its own! Innovative companies like Dollar Shave Club and Bokksu cultivate enchanting unboxings with packaged layers of brand storytelling and build-up for that climactic reveal.

Shape and Structural Innovation Defy Categorisation

Brands are rejecting conformity to standard product packaging shapes and structures. Household cleaning spray bottles mimic elegant perfume flasks. Beauty blenders and eyeshadow palettes resemble smooth stones and gems. Reusable straw cases emulate petite vials or pencils. Such boundary-breaking package designs transcend categories to stake out new creative territory.

Biodegradable Plastics and Mycelium Materials

Sustainability is a driving force reshaping numerous industries, including creative packaging. Beyond paper and glass containers, we're witnessing an exciting rise in biodegradable plastic alternatives made from plant sources like corn, mushroom roots (mycelium), and seaweed.

For instance, UK supermarket chain Waitrose has adopted tomato-based plastic pouches for some produce. The trendy footwear brand Ananías uses mycelium “leather” made from mushroom roots to form shoe uppers. As these renewable biomaterials scale up, their unique textures and material stories offer fresh creative potential for inspired packaging design.

Interactive Print Technology Bridges Physical and Digital

Creative packaging design has traditionally lived in the physical world, but the future will blend it with immersive digital activations. Companies like Shiseido and Miller Lite are experimenting with QR codes and other interactive printed graphics that spring to life through smartphone augmented reality (AR).

Imagine scanning a makeup compact to pull up a tutorial from the brand ambassador or demoing a beer's brew process and origins through animated AR graphics on the bottle. Such blended digital/physical experiences open new avenues for conveying brand narratives through packaging in richer, more captivating ways.

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Minimalism Reigns for Premium Feel

In stark contrast to the maximalist and illustrated trends, many luxury brands are stripping packaging down to its most minimal essence. Muted colours like greys, blacks, and browns meet ultra-clean typography and materials like soft-touch coatings.

The reduction in branding allows the pure product shape and accents of texture and material to speak volumes about quality and sophistication. Design luminaries like Apple, Aesop, and Glossier have long championed such stripped-back minimalism. But as premium brands explore smaller sustainable footprints, this bare-yet-beautiful aesthetic will likely increase.

Moving Beyond “Packaging” Towards Holistic Brand Expressions

Lush Cork Packaging

One thing's for sure—we've transcended the days when packaging was an afterthought. Today, brand owners recognise it as a critical extension of identity and a key touchpoint shaping perceptions. Packaging is now a holistic brand expression that factors into everything from sustainability initiatives to unboxing ceremonies.

Packaging presents an increasingly valued and nuanced challenge for creative agencies and in-house brand design teams. It's an opportunity to infuse mind-bending creativity into the entire consumer journey—from first glance on the shelf to the product experience at home and beyond.

Adequate creative packaging design resonates with authenticity, story, and emotion. It artfully visualises intangible brand values, allowing companies to forge deeper connections with consumers. And as our world grows increasingly digital and virtual, the real-world product package may become an even more powerfully tactile representation of a brand's humanity.

Packaging is a canvas awaiting your imagination. Just be sure to pick up all those minds you've blown off the floor afterwards!


What can be called “creative” in packaging design?

Going beyond primary branding and utility, creative packaging design should elicit an emotional response through imaginative visuals, shapes, materials or experiences that stimulate the senses and resonate with consumers more profoundly.

Why is creative packaging important?

Well-thought-out packaging enhances product desirability, differentiation and brand identity storytelling. It also merchandises on shelves, reinforces brand loyalty, and provides memorable unboxing experiences – all these drive sales!

Which design features are usual for creative packages?

Typical creative elements include lively illustrations or artwork, intense colours, unique shapes/structures, tactile textures, custom typography and immersive unboxing rituals.

How could packaging better connect the brand with the product?

To bridge this gap, packaging must authentically and creatively reflect a brand's essence, values, and personality traits while staying true to what it stands for within how you perceive the branding versus experiencing the actual products themselves.

What role does sustainability play in creative packaging?

Sustainable, eco-friendly package design is a big trend and a priority for many brands. This entails exploring renewable resources, reducing waste, and rethinking disposable formats – basically, being green can be pretty innovative!

How has technology affected creativity when developing ideas about what goes onto packs?

With technologies such as augmented reality (AR), interactive print or QR codes, among others, there has been an increased ability for packages that would have otherwise been confined to offline media channels, like physical displays alone on shelves just waiting for people who walk past them to pick up one-off said shelf look at backside then put it back where they found it before leaving store never even remembering ever laying eyes upon their existence let alone what was inside let alone any stories those might reveal had we asked ourselves why someone decided certain things deserve said treatment.

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In what ways can brands draw inspiration from creative packaging design?

Inspiration can be found anywhere: in the fine arts, graphic design, industrial design, or even fashion. The most imaginative packages break boundaries between disciplines.

Why does simple packaging appeal to premium brands?

Simple and elegant packaging allows premium products or materials to speak for themselves without any need for excessive branding. This kind of aesthetic communicates luxury as well as sophistication.

Is it always true that creative packages cost more money than regular ones?

Not necessarily, although it may at times seem so because custom packages with intricate details tend to have higher initial costs. However, increased sales, improved brand equity, and loyal returning customers can make such investments pay off handsomely in the long run.

How can small companies without much capital employ creativity in their product wrappings while working within limited means?

Even on a tight budget, packaging designs can still be elevated by making inexpensive changes such as bold colour choices, contrasting textures, unique shapes, and creative copywriting. Just think smart about where to apply these high-impact yet low-cost alterations.

Photo of author

Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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