Trends in Packaging: Graphic Design
Trends are everywhere. Trends in the fashion, music, or social media worlds are in front of us every time we pick up our smartphones or turn on the tv. We are bombarded with them and pay attention to them, knowingly or unknowingly, every day. We pay attention to trends on Wall Street and in our business lives because they can affect a company’s bottom line and market reach. These are all examples of how trends affect us and our businesses and alter how we perceive things and the decisions we make throughout the day, including how we use our purchasing power.
In the packaging world, this is no different. Trends come and go, and keeping track of it can be a monumental task. Are you using the right colors? Similarly, are your graphic design choices reflective of your business and what it stands for? Conversely, does all of it convey the right messaging and attract consumers to your store? Are you using the right kind of packaging? Whether you are a single unit operator or a worldwide chain, these are all things you need to consider and know. We are here to help you keep track of the biggest trends in the packaging world right now.
Here is our take on what is happening in the packaging world regarding color, design, physical package design, and sustainability. Accordingly, you’ll see how many of these trends interconnect and can complement each other. Our hope is this information helps you make decisions that help your business prosper in this ever-changing world.
Trends in Graphic Design
One of the major points we have stressed to our customers over the years is this: the packaging you use and the graphics printed on those packages, in some cases, are the first experiences a consumer will have with your business.
The design work that goes into the graphics on your packaging should be well thought out, cohesive, and set the tone for your brand. Most of all, the design should attract customers. One of the most effective ways to do this is by utilizing graphic design trends to keep your brand fresh in the eyes of fickle customers in our distracted, “ooo, shiny” world. While you don’t have to reinvent the brand you have worked to develop, here are some of the top trends you can utilize to update or make the most of your brand image.
There are tons of products on shelves to choose from and more restaurant concepts and stores pop up every day. All those brands and packages are competing for a limited amount of attention. How can you make your products or brand stand out with so many options? Despite sounding counterintuitive, the answer could be minimalism.
Have you ever been told to “keep it simple” by anyone? Minimalism in graphic design is one of the most significant trends today, and keeping it simple is the key. The world is busy and complicated. As a result, lots of packaging designs scream for attention with intricate patterns or loud colors. Creating a visual break with a simple, clean design can offer a completely different experience to an overwhelmed consumer.
The most significant benefit of taking a minimalistic approach to graphic design is your brand and the messaging you want to highlight become clear focal points for consumers. Minimalism allows you to prioritize and create a proper, visual hierarchy. Correspondingly, these visual cues act like breadcrumbs for consumers to follow, ensuring the story you are trying to tell is clear.
Another great thing about minimalism in graphic design is its links with other food packaging trends. This tone of simplicity is a great way to imply freshness, minimal use of ingredients, cleanliness, and even your commitment to the environment. (More on that later). Design minimalism goes hand in hand with the second graphic design trend we will talk about, vintage designs.
Whoever said something old can’t be new again? Vintage, as a trend, is nothing new. It is seen all the time in fashion, but in food packaging, an emerging trend is a vintage look. Why, you ask? There are a couple of main reasons.
As we emerge from the pandemic, we are realizing how stressful and challenging the last two-plus years have been on all of us. We’re all looking forward to better times, making new memories with family and friends, and getting back to life as we knew it. Here is where vintage designs come in. The look and feel of a great vintage design should evoke good vibes and memories of better times before the pandemic. The memories and nostalgia that come to the forefront of the mind should feel like a warm hug and bring smiles to all who see it.
Even if you are new to the market, a great vintage look can make it seem like your company has been around for years, even if it hasn’t. This nostalgia can also work in a brand’s favor by giving consumers a sense of longevity and stability. One way to accomplish this look is through vintage-looking illustrations.
Simple, Flat Illustrations
With a vintage look also comes simple, flat illustrations and patterns, which is the next Trend in Packaging we’ll cover. Simple, flat illustrations and patterns are very versatile. And, they’re a great way to add visual interest that help attract the attention of consumers. You can make your iconography or patterning look old or modern to give your packaging a more contemporary look. Design it to suit the brand’s image and story.
You can use simple drawings of the food your package contains, the ingredients that go into making it, or even your founder. In vintage graphic design, artists have used simple line drawings of people for forever, making them a natural addition to a vintage design theme. If you want a more contemporary look, then use shapes and angles to create a modern art look to your design, if that fits your brand aesthetic more closely.
You can use patterns with simple illustrations in much of the same way and be just as versatile. Patterns can also create the look of texture on a flat surface or tell a story by using icons. You can even use type to create a unique design to set your brand apart.
If brands look for additional ways to stand out, then they may increasingly turn to typography to accomplish this. That’s why a unique typographical treatment creates visual interest that attracts a consumer’s attention.
This trend is all about having fun and creating interest. Designers are taking a lot of latitude with typography these days. For instance, you can stack words to create a dynamic look. Additionally, break words into syllables and stack those or break lines between the sides of a package. By keeping type to a minimum, you can use typography and negative space to highlight the right messaging in a design. Consequently, this design tactic is an excellent example of how typography can align with minimalism.
There is no limit to the imaginative things that can be done with unique typography. Use collections of words or a copy block to create design blocks or patterns for a less minimal look and use them as a design element. It all can add interest and excitement and is a great way to liven up a design.
To put typography over the top, pair it with a beautiful, on-trend color scheme. The combination could be the icing on the packaging cake.
Out are the bright neons and colors seen for the last few years, and in are natural colors. Please do not equate this trend to the return of boring neutrals, topes, or tans. The natural colors included in this trend are rich jewel tones through light pastels. This color trend is so big that for 2022, the Pantone Color Institute dared to be different.
Pantone’s color of the year is Very Peri (17-3938). This bold, new color is a playful merger of blue and red hues that create “a twinkling blue hue.” This color creation is versatile and meant to inspire creativity and hope as the world starts to emerge from the pandemic.
Very Peri marks a first in Pantone’s history. This color represents the first one to be newly created as the year’s color. Typically, the institute picks an existing color for the honor. However, 2022 needed to be different.
Leatrice Eisman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, said, “As we move into a world of unprecedented change, the selection of Very Peri brings a novel vision of the trusted and beloved blue color family, encompassing the qualities of the blues, yet at the same time with its violet red undertone, Very Peri displays a spritely, joyous attitude and dynamic presence that encourages creativity and imaginative expressions.”
Very Peri is quite versatile and lends itself well to different color palettes. It works well with darker and earthy palettes as a pop of color or, among other stronger, natural tones. As we look at the overall color trends in 2022, this versatility is needed.
While Very Peri has a vivid quality, it is more restrained and muted. This characteristic is emblematic of the shift in color trends that is going on. Jewel, neon, and bright colors are out for 2022, even though they have dominated color trends recently. The trend is more natural, rich, earthy tones.
How does this translate to colors chosen in graphic designs? People are looking for a similar feel in a store environment and their products. This refreshing pallet of natural colors provides a clean, calming range that can communicate stability, nostalgia, nature, and eco-consciousness.
By muting the colors used in graphic design, companies can convey a more natural look and feel for their products. Combining a natural green with yellow or brown provides an earth-friendly feel. This trend, tied together with minimalism in design and ink coverage, creates eco-friendly graphic designs consumers will associate with a healthier environment.
So far, we have covered different graphic design and color trends you can use to enhance your brand and story or just to freshen up your look. Whatever the reasoning, give a few of these suggestions a try for your restaurant, grocery store, bakery, or convenience store packaging. We can help you with that.
While knowing about the trends presented here is good, it is only part of the process that leads to excellent packaging. In the coming weeks, we will cover the other two critical parts of the packaging process and their trends, structural design, and sustainability. This intersection is where great packaging is born.