Product packaging design is incredibly diverse because packaging serves all sorts of different needs.
You’ve got bottles, bags and boxes. Oh, and canisters, jars and wrappers.
Packaging comes in every shape, every size, every material and every color—for every type of product imaginable. It’s the first impression we get about a product, but also represents the entire brand. A product might be fantastic with an equally killer logo, but awesome, trendy, on-brand, creative packaging is what really seals the deal. In fact, a box looks on a shelf or how a container feels in our hands can easily be the #1 factor in our decision to purchase a product.
Unlike other types of design, product packaging design results in something tangible. It’s more personal: we hold it, share it and carry it. In fact, packaging has become so personal that there are huge fanbases that just love packaging. Have you heard of “Unboxing” videos? Dozens of YouTube channels exist just to showcase the packaging of products like the iPhone, Apple Watch, PS4 and more.
But perhaps most importantly, packaging is design that we have to live with everyday. A product might spend just a few days on the shelf in the store, but it will spend weeks and sometimes months on the shelves of your home. Great packaging needs to last and be a work of art that people are proud to have in their home, pocket or bag.
So, whether it’s a box, bag, bottle or something totally beyond, we’ve put together some of the best, most unique packaging designs to inspire you. From classic to cutting edge, these products prove that the right packaging makes a difference. We’ve kept it pretty real with most of these—meaning that these packages exist in the real world and something similar could be easily created with a great design and solid production process. But, we also threw in a couple fun, conceptual packages too. Because, well, great design is great design.
Anything can fit in a box. And when most folks think about packaging, that’s probably what comes to mind. But boxes don’t have to be boring…
Use your product
Combine your packaging with the product itself to make a unique statement.
Say something about your brand: Fit Buns are a high-protein way to build muscle or Trident helps whiten teeth. Or just have a little fun like Kleenex did.
And just for nostalgia’s sake, let’s not forget the ultimate in the “package is product” example: the Pet Rock. This weird (but kind of awesome) fad took the US by storm in the Seventies, and pretty much all of it had to do with the packaging. Without its cardboard kennel and straw packing material, all you had was, well, a rock.
Simplicity is magic
Apple makes masterful, beautiful packaging. And that’s because they keep things simple and elegant—both inside and out.
A single colored box showcases just four things: the product name, a logo, a product beauty shot and information about the product. Inside things are just as minimalist, with each pocket, tab and notch in the perfect spot. Apple is all about ease-of-use, and their packaging ties their entire brand together.
Let’s have storytime
Creative packaging can be the perfect place to craft a story about your brand or product—whether it’s fact or fantasy.
RioCoffee uses travel stickers and postage on their coffee boxes to indicate the source of their coffee beans that come from all over the world. The Great Bonza, a wine from Australia, turned a whimsical product name into an even more fantastical story about an Australian circus.
Don’t be square
Or rectangular. Or anything else cube-like.
Pits in Bowties (yeah, totally a real thing) designed their unique packaging with 99designs and designer syakuro developed a presentation-style “jewelry box “to stand out on the store shelf. Two die-cut windows showcase a doggie-sized bowtie and a matching leash—a unique look that puts their products front and center so customers have to take a closer look.
Lanna Spa used a nature-inspired leaf shape for their line of soaps. A textured material completed the illusion and reinforces the brand’s earthy, natural feel.
Use your packaging creatively
You know those little flaps that are glued down on the sides juice boxes? Why not use ‘em! This juice company turned them into flippers and feet for this perky penguin.
When packaging has limitations, see you can use them to your advantage and work them into an awesome design.
A box with beats
Now this is crazy cool.
Pizza Hut developed this a pizza box that not only holds delicious pizzas but also actually operates as a DJ turntable. Tiny Bluetooth magic and printed electronics allow pizza lovers to connect the box to their phone or laptop and play music. How cool is that?
Though this might be out of the price range for most folks, think about clever ways to give your packaging a second use beyond just holding your product. Customers will love it.
Soda, soap, and… socks? Bottles are a clear and clever way to hold just about anything. Take a look at these beauties.
Pop that color
You’ve probably seen these little guys in a local store.
Method—purveyor of soaps, candles, detergents and other home care products—uses a simple, clear bottle design to define a single product category. Then, they let the color of the product speak for itself, creating a stunning rainbow of identical bottles on the shelf.
Not just a bottle
Why not make a bottle more than a bottle?
Beer goggles: nature’s surefire way of turning a 2 into a 10. Ready to up your game with a pair of wine goggles? Pink Glasses wine prints different styles of eyeglasses on their wine bottles so you can find your perfect match at your next boozy brunch.
Another wine concept packs every bottle in a “break-apart” plastic container that instantly transforms into two wine glasses. Invite your customers to skip the trash and use your product packaging for something practical or just plain fun.
Be inspired by nature…
Blk Rose came to 99designs looking for a bottle for their new rose-infused water product. Designer cabinet went straight to the source, incorporating the elegant curves of rose petals into this gorgeous 3D bottle.
Short on inspiration? Sometimes, you don’t need to look any further than nature itself.
…or inspired by your product
What does your product do? What does its name mean? These are great places to start when looking for creative packaging ideas.
What does Canteen tequila belong in? Not your standard bottle, but a canteen made out of real glass. 3M’s earplugs help customers control the volume of the world around them. So, how about a volume knob instead of a boring plastic cap.
Create an icon
Here’s a challenge: create packaging so distinctive that a customer can identify your product simply by its shape.
For more than a century, Coca-Cola has used the same contour bottle design, tweaking it ever so slightly over the years. Even without a label, customers know exactly what they’re getting when they pick up that curvy bottle. In fact, the design has become so iconic that just the bottle shape itself has been flattened out and used as a logo.
Come out of left field
Sunna Wear makes waterproof socks that prevent your feet from getting wet, and designer WORKK from 99designs told that story with “socks in a bottle.”
Through a very simple packaging choice, customers get instant product information and something that’s unique, surprising and delightful that they’ll be sure to grab.
Bags, sacks, pouches… They can carry anything from shoes to sandwiches. Take a peek at some of the boldest bags you can buy.
Puma developed their “Clever Little Bag” a few years back, and it’s still just as clever now.
The bag, along with a rigid cardboard insert, actually starts as a shoebox. Remove the shoes and “Presto!” you’ve got yourself a little everyday tote bag. This is also a great example of “green packaging” that reduces the amount of packaging that gets thrown away.
Go for the chuckle
I mean, what more could we possibly say about this?
Cute: check. One-of-a-kind: check. Delicious: check check. Whether it’s a bag or something else, make your packaging playful. Surprise your customers with a laugh, and they’ll instantly remember your product.
Brown isn’t boring
Unless you’re Bloomingdales, the brown paper bag isn’t all that fancy… Which makes it the perfect place to spice things up.
Modagram, an online retailer, came to 99designs looking for a chic bag for their fashion and lifestyle products. Packaging designer Elandil created these bright, origami-inspired bags that are sure to leave a lasting impression on customers.
City Harvest of New York City launched a program to encourage food donations, or in other words, fill the bellies of hungry New Yorkers. And what better way to do that then to invite shoppers to fill the bellies of these grocery bags.
Playful plastic baggies
The mighty plastic bag. Keeper of leftovers, lunch meat and loose change.
These two companies one-upped the basic baggie: one with some puppy potty humor and the other with a surefire way to keep sandwich thieves at bay.
Begin your brand story
The perfect packaging can tell a brilliant brand story from the moment your customer pulls it off the shelf.
Nuala, an organic granola company, came to 99designs looking for a new product logo, and designer Martis Lupis created this full brand package: a paper bag encasing a jar with a matching paper lid. Together, the color and texture of these elements tell Nuala’s earthy, all-natural story.
Beyond boxes, bottles & bags
Sometimes a box, a bottle or a bag just won’t cut it. Here are some packaging designs of all shapes and sizes that take it to a whole new level.
Whoa: check out this spaghetti skyscraper!
A plastic mold at the bottom of this box forces pasta into the shape of the Chrysler Building in Manhattan. Like we said, products spend many more weeks on your shelves than they ever do in the stores. Design like this is an art piece that a customer might keep in their home even after the product runs out, which makes a constant remind of how fantastic your product and brand are.
Wear a costume
Nothing beats an ice cold beer in a chilled mug. Looks like Volksbier knows what we’re talking about.
They might not be fooling anyone, but these creative cans give customers just a little taste (literally) of this lager at its best.
Style can’t get much higher than 8-inch stilettos.
Fashion designer Christian Louboutin launched a line of 31 shades of nail polish and used that very same stiletto spike as inspiration for the bottle design. Why reinvent the heel?
Packaging that transforms
We’ve already seen some simple ways that packaging can change as you use the product. Here’s another: artwork.
These cups use an illustration of a pomegranate along with the color of the juice to complete the image.
Add some character
This is too cute. Deep Dealz had a one-of-a-kind product: a fluffy whiteboard eraser with googly eyes for classrooms.
Designer Evelina G brought the character to life with a goofy grin and fantastic artwork. Finding the right mascot or character can give your product energy and a deeper emotional connection with your audience.
Show how it works
Who likes to tie shoelaces? Leazy doesn’t. That’s why they invented no-tie laces for kids and adults.
They came to 99designs look for a product package that also shows customers how their product works. This canister from WORKK fit the bill and shows exactly how Leazy’s colorful laces line up with shoe.
Cats are sassy. Their food should be, too. At least that’s what Snookums cat food thinks. They brought their canned food to life with angry kitty faces accompanied by sarcastic and slightly angry cat quotes. It’s a simple idea: great copy gives your brand personality and your packaging flavor creating a memorable customer experience.
Want more inspiration?
Creative packaging can make or break your product—and stunning design can deliver stunning results. Find even more ideas online or explore the 99designs Discover page for some of the design work created by our talented global community.