Product packaging is everywhere, from your local grocery store to your favorite online shops. There’s no escaping it, but thankfully packaging design is evolving every year to meet our changing needs and wants. At the forefront of those needs and wants is our reliance on e-commerce. Recreating the visual experience we are used to having in stores virtually can prove to be rather difficult at times, but we’re getting better at it. And it’s really all about the unboxing experience, anyway. Isn’t it?

10 packaging design trends to unwrap in 2018

  1. Simplicity
  2. Pastels
  3. Doodles
  4. Movie posters
  5. Big words
  6. Standout shapes and materials
  7. Vintage
  8. Photography
  9. Holographic effects
  10. Vibrant gradients

1. Simplicity

Minimalist design has been around for some time now and it’s not going anywhere soon. Although it can come across as somewhat abstract and primitive, keeping it simple plays an important role in helping us access our intuitive side.

The hardest part about going minimal is finding symbols and signs that many people can relate to. Once you’ve nailed the symbolism, the message explains itself, often with few-to-no words. If you can pull it off, using less language will keep you in sync with our fast-paced society—people will barely have to slow down to grasp what your product is all about.

Soylent
Stripped down to the essentials via Soylent.
Abacus Pills
A strong minimalist design via Abacus Pills.
Alpha Project
Clean and elementary design via Content Form Context.
Content Form Context
Blend Station
Eye catching packaging design via Blend Station.

2. Pastels

Feminine, calming package design is moving into the spotlight in 2018, which means that pastels are seeing a resurgence. Pastels feel like a natural reaction to the hyper-stimulating and explosive colors we’ve been experiencing. They speak to our softer side.

The reduced saturation makes pastels a great choice for creating a soft, pale effect that gives products a candid and warm aura, which is translated into a pleasant and welcoming message for the potential customer. Instead of being rushed and dazzled in order to look, touch, smell or taste and eventually buy, we’re being gently eased into it. Ahhhhh. These easy shades remind us that color is light and light is energy. And the energy we materialize has an impact.

BitterFit
Packaging design by katerina k. for BitterFit.
Bonnie & Clyde Gin
A well balanced playful approach via Pearly Yon.
Float bubble
Vivid and warm packaging design via min.
Lucid cannabis skincare
A unique take on packaging design via Angela Pak.
Pearlfisher
A subtle and feminine design via Pearlfisher.

3. Doodles

Everybody doodles—from 9-year-olds to 90-year-olds, so you’re set as far as target markets are concerned. Adults relate to this kind of free form drawing because it reminds us of the energetic, happy-go-lucky kids that we all were once. And let’s be honest: a good doodle can turn a frown upside down any given day. When seen on packaging, doodles can turn a product into a fun universe that was born from someone’s imagination and shared with the world. They also have a wonderful way of describing what’s inside the box. Many times we’re smiling before we even touch the product. Happy customer? Check!

Misfit Juicery
Raw and explicit label design via Misfit Juicery.
Brosé
Summer vibes…design by LoudFrog.
Cup Noodles
A packaging design featuring doodles via Packaging of the world.
Cat Cookies fish biscuits
Dynamic & cartoonish design via melvas.
Coronado Brewing Company
A sketchy yet classy design via John Schulz.

4. Movie posters

Keeping us entertained is the game! What better way to do that than by evoking the same atmosphere and narrative as movie posters, which can be as respected as the movie itself. Movie poster packaging also taps into well established fan bases that vary from casual sympathizers to die-hard collectors. It’s not easy to have that wide of a market reach.

Posters transport you with a narrative that becomes intimately connected to the product itself creating an unmistakable identity.

Im in love with the simcoe
A cool label design by Lucadia for Connecticut Valley Brewing Company.
Several beers from Kerze Brewing
Immersive poster-like labeling via Amateur (dot) rocks.
Director Beer
Classics reimagined via BrandHolic.
MIKKELLER COLLABORATES WITH DAVID LYNCH ON TWIN PEAKS BEERS
A great collaboration with David Lynch! Via Mikkeller.
ALMANAC BEER CO. TROPICAL GALAXY
Sci-fi cinema look via DKNG.

5. Big words

If you’re looking to send a clear and loud message about what your product is all about, then big words might be what you’re looking for.  Words are a great way to get creative with the message you’re bringing forth. Be it funny or serious a clear message will work as long as it’s in a bold and easy-to-read sans serif font. Combined with a wise choice of colors your product will surely make a splash.

Give a care tea
Give a care, as suggested via lg2.
The Rag Bag
A straightforward message via The Rag Bag.
Eboost
A witty branding approach via Eboost.
Mother Veggie Tonic
Bold & funny branding via Forth and Back
Mother Veggie Tonic
First World problems suplements
First world problems are not problems via SUE Amsterdam.

6. Standout shapes and materials

For the ones that aren’t about words or pastel colors, but all about innovative shapes and materials—you’re in luck! This approach falls under the “extreme packaging” category, but in a good way.

Turning your juice can into a bamboo segment or your resin package into a sheltering tree stump, literally means that the only thing left to do is place your logo on the package. No other words required. This method showcases the thoughtfulness and ingenuity your product brings to the market—always something to aim for when building a brand identity.

Bamboo juice
Nature inspired packaging via Marcel Sheishenov.
Peckish Bird Seed
A captivating student project via Shohaib Iqbal.
Pchak
Crafty and skillful packaging design via Backbone Branding.
FAMOUS cider
A resourceful concept via Depot WPF.
Babushka foods
An ingenious blend of old and new via Team Wunderbar!.

7. Vintage

You can’t go forward without knowing your past. The past is ingrained in our current collective reality, which is why vintage design thrives on us remembering. Throwback design give us a little something that was left behind: an essential part of our culture or memories.

Vintage design is also an effective way of demonstrating dedication to a certain level of quality, perhaps unaltered since the inception of the product, decades or centuries back. Vintage tells a story of tradition, respect and passion, elements that remain alive—from a design standpoint—through organized structure, dense details and strong, lasting identity.

Barncrofts of London Mojito
Old fashioned aesthetics by Mila Katagarova for Barncrofts of London.
Henry’s Original Cannabis Smokes
Classic packaging design via Pavement.
Mayfield Gin
Traditional-inspired label design via Stranger and Stranger.
Strap Tank Brewery
Badge inspired labeling via Helms Workshop.
vintage bottle labels
Reimagining vintage design via Constantin Bolimond.

8. Photography

Photography has always been strongly linked to design. The complex visual message that a photo conveys has the power to make you pause. It also gives the designer the freedom to dream up a crazy collage, like making a bear the chef (see below).

Black Bear Smoked Goods
Via Mariane Silva.

A photo can also bring a lot of order into the composition of a package (it’s easy to see why photography is pretty much always on trend).

This purple cereal box is good example of the balance obtained through the use of photography and negative space.

Good Grain Puffed Wheat
Via Robot Food.
Jelly Fresh Herbs
A creative spin using photography via Chiapa Design.
GO! Pet Food
A dynamic and realistic effect via Subplot Design Inc.
GO! Pet Food
Fieldwork Brewing
Using blown-up photos as labels via Fieldwork Brewing.
Commonwealth Brewing Co.
Great use of macro photography via Thirst.

9. Holographic effects

Holographic foil stamping can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. Depth, three dimensionality and an array a varying colors add elegance and value to any package. Holographs can give plastic or paper a non-tarnishing metallic effect that brings brightness and flair to any composition.

Black & Bone
In your face! via Parámetro Studio.
Project Charisma
Visual effects via Ken Lo.
Kola Premium Cannabis
Rainbows via Hired Guns Creative.
29th Summer Universiade Taipei 2017 Commemorative Token
29th Summer Universiade Taipei 2017 Commemorative Token via Midnight Design.
Twisted Spirits
Foil stamping compliments a colorful composition via Lyon and Lyon.

10. Vibrant gradients

Since the rise of flat design, gradients have been dormant, waiting for the “right time” to make their return. Now, the use of gradients seems to be making a comeback. We are seeing more and more colorful gradients, adding depth and form to package design.

Square One
Textured gradients via POP & PAC.
INDIGO condoms
Eye pleasing packaging design via Fabula Branding.
INDIGO condoms
Bombay Electric
Multicolored package design via Michael Thorsby.
Miami wine
Enchanting gradient sunset via Vlad Likh.
Blend - Premium fruit & vegetable drink
Deliciously colorful branding via Siegenthaler &Co.
Blend - Premium fruit & vegetable drink

Here’s to 2018 packaging design trends

Packaging trends are born out of a clash between the new and the old, between the organized and the freestyle. As long as these two facets of the ecosystem keep finding a way to coexist while pushing boundaries, progress and innovation will continue to thrive and prosper. Who knew packaging could be so exciting?

Need some packaging designed for your product? Our designers can create something on-trend and perfect for your brand!