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Trends are mysterious things. Some stay for years and others are just a swift shimmer that leave as fast as they enter the scene. Still others shift and evolve with the times. Design is both the driving force and the result of this cycle of trends—with packaging design creating personal experiences (like the unboxing experience) that connect consumers to brands on a deeper level.
With that in mind, here are the 9 packaging trends that we are predicting for 2017.
1. Be simple, bold and clear
Going back to the basics is a trend that resurfaces regularly. This year’s version will appear better articulated and more compelling to the customer.
Minimizing the elements used in a package design can elevate a product… as long as it gets the point across. In our fast-paced world, shoppers don’t always have the time to study each and every product detail. Stick to the essentials and make sure they help the buyer make a more informed decision; a clean-cut design can convey information and make a product shine using simplicity.
2. Embrace custom lettering
Almost every designer loves to get crafty and create some of their artwork by hand. We do this to get the organic effect: fluid imperfections—like irregular lines or natural texture fills—can make a product stand out through warmth and set it apart from digital designs. This warmth can create an emotional tie to the product, making it feel handmade and wholesome, or communicating a feeling of nostalgia. Either way, for 2017, we are seeing a massive comeback of hand-lettering.
3. Go wild with color
It’s no secret that colors evoke emotions and affect purchasing decisions. Because of this, color has always been one of the most important choices in packaging design. Lately we’ve seen designers put colors to work in new and exciting ways. Bright colors and vibrant associations are beginning to make a scene on store shelves.
In particular, we’ve seen color used to differentiate different different variations within one product family. A buyer might not remember the name or number of their favorite flavor, but they will surely be able to recall if the packaging was was a bright turquoise or vivid purple. This takes the psychology of color into new design territory: where words might not be needed if colors are used effectively.
4. Repeat a pattern
Using well-chosen and beautiful patterns can elevate a package design from ordinary to ethereal. Although the idea of repetitive shapes might seem simple, the technique can be dynamic and compelling when used correctly.
Repeating a visual motif that captures the essence of the brand sends a strong message. Whether your pattern is bold or playful, patterning your package can create a strong identity that customers will remember.
5. Use illustration as narrative
Behind every design there is a story. We seek out and cherish the stories that feel closest to our hearts. Packaging design has begun to incorporate narrative illustrations.
This style can transport you to a fantasy world, like Owen Davey’s design for SmashMallow. Elderbrook labels—part of a full brand identity—create a mood and sense of place in the same immersive manner.
Illustration is reclaiming its rightful place in the arsenal of package designers, and the new year will bring carefully crafted, content-rich illustrations that will remind us of stories long forgotten or give us a taste of the stories to be discovered.
6. Put it in the mail
Remember the joy of getting something in the mail? With faster, more efficient ways to communicate, that experience has become more rare. Packaging design is here to save the day with an emerging postal trend.
Kokomo uses customized stamps for each of their coffee blends, making the product feel authentic. The unusual package for ice-cream, cookies and cakes used by Luxembourg pastry shop, draws attention from passersby, giving the gift of nostalgia with one glance.
7. Imagine ingenious die cuts
Traditional packaging tends to hide its contents, but modern designers are experimenting with die cutting to show products to their advantage. Whether it’s encouraging tactile interaction, mimicking a brand’s logo, or forming identifiable or humorous shapes, creating a window in your packaging can show the product in a meaningful or clever way, making a buyer stop and take notice.
8. Find vintage inspiration
Vintage package design is evolving each year (ironically) through the use of new technologies and materials. There’s something about vintage design that resonates through time. It brings back memories for people who lived through the original era and satisfies the curiosity of younger generations eager to explore the past.
The key to going vintage is to find a balance. Makers & Merchants, for example, evokes nostalgia, while maintaining a sharp and modern look at the same time.
9. Explore eco-friendly packaging
Eco-friendly, biodegradable, natural, sustainable… Call it what you will, going green with packaging is a trend that’s here to stay. Beyond its positive impact on the environment, it can also save companies money and attract customers.
The expanding bowl by Swedish design studio Tomorrow Machine shows the great potential in sustainable design in a number of ways: saves space, uses 100% bio-based and biodegradable material and has multiple uses.
One of the leaders in sustainable design, method sells bottles made with recycled ocean plastic.
From using more renewable resources to keeping materials recyclable, more consumer brands are integrating eco-friendly design into their business. This is a trend that we hope to see grow with each year because it benefits everyone.
We hope that you’re inspired by our predictions for the top packaging design trends of 2017. Bear in mind that design should always look to add simplicity, authenticity and meaning. Trends may come and go (and come back yet again), but they’re most impactful when communicating the values of a brand and helping to create a human connection. Here’s to an exciting new year!