Trends In Packaging: Graphic Design

Trends are an important concept to any business. They reflect increasing consumer or producer demand, what worked for other businesses in your industry, and influence the way we and our customers see the world around us. Additionally, they help brands communicate their value by tapping into what those trends represent and can help your business appear modern and fresh.

This year when creating our Trends In Packaging series, we saw some similarities to last year, including a committed focus to sustainability, minimalist design, exploration of alternative materials, and nostalgia. We also saw some differences, including more 3D design elements, use of mascots, illustrative designs, and more.

This year, brands will continue using their packaging’s graphic design to communicate their value while standing out from their competition. We’ll see elements of nostalgia, an emphasis on earth colors and transparency, curves over straight lines, bold typography, and more.

To help you make sense of all these trends, we’ve compiled the Trends In Packaging series. In this part of the series, we’ll talk about graphic design. Other parts of the series talk about trends in sustainability and structure and function.

Clear & Illustrative Graphic Design for a Transparent Brand

One of the biggest trends we expect to see in 2023 is the use of a clear graphic design to convey a brand’s and a product’s value to consumers. Consumers are busier than ever before, and a clear design helps them determine whether they want to buy from your company. Designs that create too much noise will complicate a buyer’s decision making process and risk being disregarded.

Additionally, some brands will use the designs on their packaging to communicate their product, how it’s made, or what ingredients it uses. For instance, they may visually show the ingredients in a microwavable meal or depict how the brand raised or grew the food in a package. These illustrative designs help your brand show how it creates products and what values you hold. In turn, this builds your brand’s authenticity, increasing consumer trust and perceived value of your brand.

How Inno-Pak can help: Building brand authenticity requires a broad and robust brand strategy. Inno-Pak can help you execute that strategy by turning the packaging your business relies on into a consumer touchpoint. Use our Custom Print Program to turn each product into a tool for consumer education or brand advocacy. Look for Custom Print Program eligible items on our product page.

Minimalism Vs. Maximalism

In order to make the most of their clear graphic designs, many brands will use uncluttered designs, clean lines, and a simple color palette. These minimalist designs will naturally complement those brands that want to convey their transparency by making it easy to see and understand their products. They’ll cut away all the superfluous elements until only the essential ones remain and let the empty areas, or whitespace, draw your eye to those essential elements. Fonts will be clear and easy to read, and many of the design elements will be lined up with an emphasis on drawing the viewer’s eyes in a certain way.

In 2023, we expect to see some brands zag while others zig. Instead of adopting a minimalist design, these brands will try to stand out in the marketplace by being loud, proud, and colorful. Where others will use generous whitespace, they’ll fill up that space with decorations, words, and other items. Where minimalist brands will use a small color palette, maximalist ones will stand out with a lot of colors or very vibrant ones. Expect to see these brands to use saturated colors, layers and patterns, playful use of various elements, and bold looks.

Whichever design aesthetic you go with, make sure that your packaging represents your brand’s values and tells its story. If part of your brand story includes simple ingredients prepared in a simple way, for instance, you might want to use a minimalist look that reflects those values. If, on the other hand, your brand values include individuality and standing out, you may want to consider using a maximalist design.

How Inno-Pak can help: If it’s time to update the look of your packaging, then look no further than Inno-Pak. Not only do we have products that already emphasize a minimalist design, but we can work with you to create a minimalist or maximalist design for your products. Use our Custom Print Program on eligible items to give your products the look they need. Look through our products page to find Custom Print Program items and contact us once you’re ready to bring your design to life.

Earthy Colors & Natural Looks

A palette of blues, greens, and yellows—natural colors that we expect to see more of as a trend in graphic design.

As brands continue to take strides in their journeys toward sustainability, many of them are going to want to convey their sustainability bona fides through their packaging. By adopting a color palette of natural, earthy colors, such as greens, browns, and blues, they can communicate their eco-friendliness before customers can even read the words on a package.

Accordingly, we expect to see more of those kinds of colors on packaging in 2023. Additionally, we expect to see more use of natural elements. For instance, more brands will use materials like plain kraft paper or fibers and then choose not to bleach them or even print onto them. Instead, they’ll treat the plain material less like a canvas to paint on and more like part of the artwork itself.

Soft Curves, But Bold Typography

A closeup of bold typography on a paper bag. In 2023, we expect to see more brands use bold typography.

Another couple of trends we expect to see in 2023 has to do with the text we put on packaging and the lines we draw.

For a while now, straight lines have been popular in graphic design for packaging. Now, we expect to see a transition to more curved lines and softer designs. These softer features will help create a more natural impression as lines in nature are rarely straight and curves create more of a handmade, natural feel to the packages and the products they contain.

Conversely, we expect to see typography become bolder and seek to stand out more on the page than it does already. Brands will place the typography front and center so that it can draw in customers, give them a focal point, and communicate the product’s value clearly to them. Minimalist brands may use their ample whitespace to frame the bold typography for consumers. This will complement those transparent designs by creating a sense of being upfront.

Playing with Dogs and Nostalgia, Illusions, & Texture

In 2023, we expect to see brands playing with new and old elements in their designs. Nostalgia and vintage designs will continue to gain in popularity, more brands will experiment with illusions of depth or other fake 3D elements, and we’ll see the use of textural elements on packaging.

As a trend, nostalgia isn’t new. In fact, we wrote about it last year. Just like then, consumers are yearning for less stressful and challenging times when they didn’t have to worry as much. They want to make new memories with their friends and families and return to simpler times. Nostalgic designs done well evoke happy memories and feelings. It can also help your brand feel like it’s been around for a long time, even if it’s new to the market.

Another trend we expect to see is the use of 3D elements. Illusions of depth can create a feeling of looking at a three-dimensional image and has the potential to draw a viewer further into the artwork. It can add more visual interest in your product, help you tell your story, or stand out apart from the competition.

Some brands will look to add textural elements to their designs. These could be adding embossed details to their packaging, using die-cut molds to create specific shapes or designs, or other elements that consumers can touch and feel. These will help create a sense of uniqueness for your packaging and build your brand through custom packaging. They can also convey a sense of being upscale and help convey your products’ value.

Mascots are readily available in the business world, and for good reason. They help connect your brand’s story to your customers. In 2023, we expect to see variations on mascots by brands that want to feel more playful and put their customers at ease. Brands will make small changes to the appearance of their mascot to stand out, to commemorate milestones, or to support causes important to that brand. Brands will also work their mascots into the graphic design on their packaging as though it were another element.

How to Use This Trend In Packaging

Using these graphic design trends in your packaging can help your brand appear modern and fresh which can help your brand stand out in a competitive marketplace. Clever use of the trends can also help you tell your brand’s story and make a case for why consumers should spend money on your products over others’.

If you’re not already using custom prints on your packaging, you should consider doing so. You can freshen up your packaging’s look and tell your brand’s story with a well-made custom print. If you already have a custom design, you should revisit your packaging design to see if adding in one of these trends makes sense for your brand.

If sustainability is important to your brand’s story, then your packaging design should be telling that story, too. Using the earth tones and natural materials we talked about earlier will help, but so will a minimalist design or a design that illustrates how your brand helps the planet.

Whatever design you need, make sure that you have a packaging supplier that is capable of meeting those needs and will communicate with you every step of the way. At Inno-Pak, our creative team can provide you with the guidelines for the custom packaging you want and either use a design you created or create one with you. If you’d like to explore our Custom Print Program, please contact us with your ideas and the Custom Print Program-eligible items you want customized.