Corrugated Box and Packaging Design Trends of 2021

Product packaging design has always been a great way to convey the message of your brand. In the past year, this practice has become more important than ever before. Here, we’ll share some examples of the biggest packaging design trends in 2021 and help you consider which trends your brand should adopt.

Packaging Trends in 2021

Some of this year’s most popular product packaging trends include the following:

1. Ultra-Simplistic Designs and Geometry

An increasingly popular packaging trend is the use of bold and extremely simple geometric ideas. These geometrical concepts feature the use of expressive colors, clean lines and sharp angles, giving customers a preview of what the product represents. While this trend may appear subtle at first glance, it’s an effective way to make your product stand out.


product branding

2. Front and Center Product or Brand Names

Designers in 2021 often choose to make the name of a product — not a logo or illustration — the focal point of their packaging. These designs may feature imaginative lettering that draws attention to the name of the product. The names on this type of packaging design are art in themselves and give the entire design a unique look.

When a consumer sees this type of packaging, they know exactly what the name of the product is and what it’s used for. If you’re a product-focused business and want to increase awareness of your brand, you may want to consider adopting this trend. This type of design relies on strong typography that is able to carry the entire aesthetic of your brand. Any other elements of this design serve merely to help the product’s name stand out.

3. Color Blocking

Color blocking has been used in the packaging industry for a long time. In 2021, it has taken on a new appearance that features distinctive color combinations, textures and variations in block weight and shape. Whereas color blocking of the past was characterized by its straight-edged boxes that form clean lines and perfect grids, color blocking in 2021 is unbalanced, uneven, dappled and freckled. In other words, it feels organic and real.

4. Recyclable and Eco-Friendly Boxes

Another thing consumers have been looking for in recent years is eco-friendly packaging. In 2021 as the continued COVID-19 pandemic has led to an explosion in single-use plastic, this need for environmentally friendly packaging has become more urgent. Consumers understand this urgency, with some reports suggesting that nearly three-quarters of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging.

5. Flat Graphics

Today, consumers appreciate the value of story in branding. On packages, pictures can convey the story of a brand more quickly than a body of text, particularly when the product is sitting on a crammed retail shelf. A number of retail brands have decided to tell their story using simple and sometimes cartoonish illustrations that use color blocks to make images that are immediately recognizable, much like online icons.

Through customization, you can transform a simple style of illustration into a mode of creative artistic expression. Some brands that have made good use of flat graphics include:

  • Fuerst Wiacek: This Berliner brewery has beer can designs that are as memorable as the brews themselves. The Fuzz Fruited Berliner Weisse features a colorful, funky pattern. The Space Jelly IPA has trippy waves, and the Turtle Dove DIPA features solid, simple shapes of a bird. These beers all come from one brand, although each design feels like one of a kind.
  • Cacao 70: The wrappers for each one of the Cacao 70 chocolate bars are all variations of a single theme. Each design tells a unique visual story, giving the flavor a little extra personality.
  • Munch’n: This berry fruit company from New Zealand features a cartoon mascot on the freshness seal on its berry containers. This mascot always appears to be “munching” on the berries inside. This simple idea adds some fun to an otherwise merely functional container.

6. Sustainable Packaging Practices

In recent years, the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has frequently been discussed as a way for companies to enhance the perception of their brand. One popular new way to do this is by “rightsizing,” which refers to reducing the overall size of the package as well as the paper waste and fill material by making conscientious design choices. Another benefit of rightsizing is that it reduces shipping costs.

As e-commerce continues to grow, the demand for smaller, lighter packaging that lowers shipping costs will only increase. Some notable examples of brands that have adopted rightsizing include:

  • Patagonia: The packaging on Patagonia’s base layer clothing is an excellent example of this practice. Their new packaging, which was made to reverse declining sales, is a hexagonal box with a varying size depending on the size of the product. These new boxes can be stacked more efficiently and they snugly fit the clothing, which reduces the amount of space and material used. This format dramatically increased their sales and even earned the company an award.
  • Allbird: Allbird’s shoe packaging is another example of good rightsizing and demonstrates the company’s dedication to sustainable business practices. The shoe packaging consists of recyclable materials and uses inks that are soy-based. The shoes are protected during shipping with molded inserts instead of the usual crumpled paper, reducing materials. What’s more — the shoebox doubles as a shipping box, which eliminates the need to ship a box inside another box — an industry standard practice.

There are third-party organizations that certify certain types of sustainability practices, including multi-material recycling and waste stream management. For instance, some of these organizations help companies adopt more sustainable practices and offer certifications and evaluations to responsible companies to promote the sustainable management of the forest. If you’re a packaging designer or brand hoping to adopt green practices — or perhaps vet prospective partners — certifications like these provide proof that the company is committed to helping the environment.

7. Porous Packaging Materials

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there has been a need for packaging that reduces viral transmission. Studies have shown that while the SARS-CoV-2 virus can live for a day on cardboard and several days on plastic, it has trouble surviving on porous surfaces. For this reason, many socially conscious companies are using porous packaging whenever they can to further lower the risk that their packaging could help the virus spread.

8. Reassuring Copy

An effective packaging design is one that resonates with consumers. These days, the average person tends to be anxious, stressed or depressed. In fact, depression and anxiety have been on the rise since the pandemic began. For this reason, many businesses are using the copy on their packaging to put customers at ease and deliver a more relevant message about their brand.

Experienced business owners and marketers are aware that if a company can provide solutions for consumers and induce calm, they may earn loyalty from those customers in return. A business may leverage emotional marketing and other types of marketing psychology to promote reassuring and positive emotions and feelings. This trend to calm customers is also seen in logo designs, where designers are using softer colors and less white and black.

make sure typography can be easily read

9. Clear Typography

While many shoppers have always wanted to keep their errands quick, never has this desire been as strong since the pandemic began. This is why many businesses are using clear typography to make their brand immediately recognizable to those unfamiliar with it. To make typography easy to read from a distance, designers might:

  • Use complementary color palettes.
  • Use bold colors, which help grab the attention of shoppers.
  • Use easy-to-read fonts.

Examine your package design and make sure your typography can be easily read both from a distance and from up close. If this is not the case, you may want to capitalize on this trend and pick typography that’s clearer.

10. Clear Package Labeling

Many shoppers in 2020 had difficulty locating the brands they typically buy in stores. With disruptions in the supply chain and changes in buying habits, brand loyalty and awareness often disappear. In a time when many products were in short supply and shoppers didn’t want to spend more time than they had to in stores, they often grabbed a new brand because it’s the first one they noticed.

To take advantage of this shift in 2021, a brand’s packaging should be designed to grab shoppers’ attention and make it immediately clear what the product inside is. If someone unfamiliar with a brand comes across the package, they should immediately know what it is.

Pros and Cons of Adopting Current Trends

Some pros of adopting new packaging design trends include:

  • It makes your brand trendy: By adopting new design trends, you are allowing your brand to remain relevant, hip and fresh. If your customer base is primarily in their 20s and 30s, this may be especially important.
  • It may attract more customers: A trendy design is likely to attract more customers compared to a non-trendy one — at least for as long as the trend stays in fashion.

Some reasons to stick with your current design may include:

  • Some trends are better than others: Even if you’re open to adopting the latest custom shipping box trends, this doesn’t mean you have to adopt every trend out there — or any at all. If you like your current design and feel no new design trends will mesh well with your brand, there’s no reason to change your design.
  • Some trends die out fast: When adopting a trend, it’s often difficult to know whether the trend will endure long enough for your design change to be worth it.
    You can stand out: By going against the grain in terms of design, you can more easily stand out from the crowd. However, if you choose to stand your own ground, be sure the ground is worth standing on. Depending on the choices you make, you can stand out in a good way or a bad way.
  • Your brand’s current design may become trendy later on: If your brand is distinctive but not trendy, there’s always a chance it could become trendy later on. This may be a reason to stick with your current design.
benefits of custom boxes

Benefits of Custom Boxes NOW

Whether customers are aware of these trends in packaging or not, there’s a good chance that a product incorporating current trends will leave customers with a good impression. And there’s no better place to make a good impression than with packaging — the first thing the customer sees when looking at your product.

Once you’ve decided to create custom boxes for your business, you’ll want to work with a fast, reliable custom box manufacturer that is committed to making high-quality products. Custom Boxes Now manufactures high-quality corrugated boxes and delivers them faster than competitors — and at more competitive prices. Some other benefits of our services include:

  • Unparalleled customer service: We are committed to providing the best customer service in the corrugated box industry, and we believe this is one of the reasons we’ve been in business for over 50 years.
  • Flexibility in design: We offer a variety of printing methods for our boxes, allowing you to design a box that fits your needs exactly. Once you’ve figured out the products you must package, you can easily provide us with the specifications using our online configuration tool. You can also send us the details via email. If you don’t know what you need exactly, you can provide us with your product specs and have our design team create a tailored solution.
  • Commitment to high-quality products: We are ISO 9001:2015 certified, which reflects our high design and manufacturing standards.
  • Eco-friendliness: We are committed to protecting and improving the environment through green manufacturing practices. Our kraft boxes are completely recyclable and made from 60% to 95% post-consumer waste. Check out this short video to learn more about the lifecycle of our boxes.
  • Ultimate quality control: Instead of using outside manufacturers, we make all our corrugated boxes in-house and therefore have complete control of the quality and timeline of all the custom boxes we make.
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Increase Awareness of Your Brand With Custom Boxes Now

Custom Boxes Now is a shipping box company specializing in custom-made cardboard boxes. We are a one-stop shop for all your custom corrugated shipping box needs. Start by using our handy configuration tool today to specify the perfect custom packaging boxes for your business. With our fast and reliable services, you can receive your custom packaging within just a few days of ordering it.