Popular Packaging Design Trends of Today

23 September 2021

Your product packaging design does more than you think. It's a first impression that tells your brand story, elicits emotion, and influences purchasing decisions in one fell swoop. Package design wears many hats and needs to address several objectives simultaneously. 

This is why designers are always on a search for the next big trend to elevate their packaging designs and achieve results. 

Why Does Packaging Design Matter? 

Besides the good old-fashioned, "people judge a book by its cover" mantra — packaging design has become significantly more important in the digital era. Yes, we know it sounds strange — but hear us out. 

Social media has opened up new doors for businesses to effectively market their products by creating memorable packaging. 40% of consumers will show off packaging on social media if it's unique. Many consumers will also try something new if the packaging stands out. 

On top of all this, YouTube has become a one-stop shop for product reviews and unboxings. As you can imagine, this puts packaging design center stage as hundreds of thousands of consumers tune in to see if your products are worth their hard-earned money. 

We’ve covered some tips and tricks for packaging design in the past, and offer these six general rules. 

  • Clarity + Purpose 
  • Authenticity 
  • Transparency 
  • First Impressions
  • Practicality
  • Product Variation

Let's take a look at some of this year's packaging trends and how you can elevate your packaging designs today. 

1. Reusable Packaging For the Win 

Plastic has gotten a bad reputation over the years. While it's an incredibly versatile material, it also contributes to our carbon footprint and is renowned for washing up on shores around the globe. That's why reusable packaging has become a major trend for brands looking to evoke sustainability as a core value. 

Resealable flexible packaging is a great way to package a wide variety of products — but it can also be reused time and time again. 

2. Heritage Branding 

Does your brand have a long and extensive history? Tell your story by taking your packaging designs back in time to revisit old logos and colorways. A retro look captures the attention of your longtime customers and provides some much-needed nostalgia.

Now, not every brand has a storied past to draw from — but that doesn't mean there's not an opportunity for heritage branding with your packaging designs. Newer businesses across a wide range of industries look to traditional styles and legacy designs for their products to gain their own taste of nostalgia — aptly named newstalgia. 

3. Minimalism Never Goes Out of Style 

You can't go wrong with minimalist packaging design. There's a reason why it's lasted so long in so many unique industries. It conveys honesty, simplicity and offers a clean foundation to build a trusted brand. Clutter-free packaging allows businesses to provide clear messaging with a "less is more" approach. 

It's why so many companies eventually transition to minimalist designs for both their packaging and brand at large. 

4. Simple Geometry 

Piggybacking off the minimalist aesthetic, bold and simple geometry can make an impactful statement. Strong colors and strong patterns can intrigue and catch consumer attention. Geometric package designs are abstract and creative — leaving a lasting first impression when done right.

5. Flat and Flexible Packaging For the Win 

While rigid packaging had its time to shine, it poses several hurdles for companies around the world. It takes up a significant amount of space, can't fold or change shape, and is costly. 

Products that rely on flexible packing, on the other hand, are much easier to transport and store, providing incredible cost benefits. But, savings aren't the only benefits.

  • Environmentally-friendly production 
  • Quick and convenient for consumers 
  • Extends the shelf life of perishable foods and products 
  • Unlimited design potential 

Flexible packaging has taken over industries such as cosmetics, food, and household items. With no sign of stopping, flexible packaging is here to make a statement in packaging design.  

6. Smart Packaging 

Now, all of your packagings should be "smart" in some sense, but we're talking about interactive integrations. Interactive AR features or unique QR codes allow brands to integrate value beyond a simple purchase.

Imagine you have BBQ sauce packaging with a unique QR code that allows a consumer to see step-by-step recipes for BBQ chicken pizza, wings, or ribs. Or, check out McDonald's AR integration for the World Cup.
<p><iframe allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/AHuwaqwyDN0" title="YouTube video player" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Smart packaging is all about extending the customer experience beyond the purchase to create loyal advocates for your brand. </p>
Smart packaging is all about extending the customer experience beyond the purchase to create loyal advocates for your brand. 

7. A Touch of Fine Art 

The trend of fine art packaging has found its way into luxury or high-end products. Designers take advantage of paint textures or entire paintings to draw inspiration. Whether it's integrating components of fine art into design or establishing them as the focal point — packaging designers have incredible flexibility with this trend. 

The goal is to make everyday packaged items into art pieces — and its found immense success with a wide range of industries. Whether it's coffee, cosmetic products, fine cheeses and more — a touch of fine art can be the splash of creativity needed to bring package design to life. 

8. Symmetry Makes a Return 

It seems as if every other year, symmetry and asymmetry fight for the spotlight in packaging design. However, as more and more companies realize the impact of their package creativity — the room for interpretation also grows. While geometric shapes are certainly here to stay, perfect symmetry helps to ground consumers in these uncertain times. 

Whether it's complex and intricate designs or disconnected patterns that leverage negative space — perfect symmetry provides that "weirdly satisfying" feel the new generation adores. 

10. Technical Drawings and Anatonimical Designs 

Last on our list for this year's packaging design trends is a bold step forward. You've seen technical drawings from product manuals in the past. What about the anatomical models of life from your biology books? Well, these have become versatile design choices for packaging in a wide range of industries. 

Nothing says "transparency" more than technical illustrations on packaging designs. These are incredibly detailed designs that scream innovation, originality, and purpose. 

Take Your Packaging Design to the Next Level 

From small businesses and startups to medium-sized businesses and industry-leading corporations, packaging design can transform a company. It's an important step as it will be the first point of contact for many shoppers who haven't experienced your brand before. 

Take the opportunity to revaluate your existing packaging designs and discover if any of these emerging trends could help with your branding.