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.
Some of this year’s most popular product packaging trends include the following:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Some pros of adopting new packaging design trends include:
Some reasons to stick with your current design may include:
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.
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