One of the major trends in packaging over the past few years was minimalistic packaging. I’m sure you know about it, but in case you don’t, here is a quick rundown.
Minimalism is a trend that has been around since the 1950s and is characterised by extreme simplicity. There are tons of present day examples of minimalism – many people even live a ‘minimalist lifestyle’ where they basically throw out everything they own. Can’t relate.
With regards to packaging, the minimalistic trend calls for only pertinent information to be on a plain background. There is no secondary information, no slogans, nothing like that. A common pairing would be a sans serif font and a solid one-colour background. The text is typically black, or a major colour of the company.
Why Minimalism Works
Minimalistic packaging is extremely effective because it doesn’t distract the consumer from the focus of the packaging – the product.
This packaging design approach allows for a straight forward message to be delivered to the customer without the mayhem of the artwork that doesn’t necessarily relate to the product within the packaging.
The minimalistic design can also help the environment – the simpler the design, the more likely it is to be reused by your consumer, which cuts down on the amount of trash thrown out at the end of the day.
A few years ago when simple packaging was still emerging on the scene, it stood out among competitors because of the stark difference. We had packaging bombarding all of our senses cluttering the shelves and then just one or two brands with packaging stripped down to its essence. Ironically, the plain and to-the-point packaging was catching the consumer’s eye because of its lack of artwork and direct marketing.
Simple packaging allows the customer to easily identify the product and make a rapid purchasing decision. It eliminates confusion for customers as well as decision-making steps. Consumers gravitate towards minimalistic packaging because of the simplicity of the marketing message from the company.
There are two iconic examples of minimalistic packaging in vastly different industries: Apple and No Name.
Apple Brand Packaging
Apple’s packaging is a reflection of their products. All of their branding has the same overall look as their products – solid colour, metallic fonts, simple logo of an apple. This company actually hires a designer whose sole job is to create packaging. Furthermore, there are employees who spend their days opening hundreds of different box prototypes.
They know the importance of branding and packaging on a large scale which is why they need an iconic look to match their brand.
If you asked anyone to describe an iPhone box, they will all be able to envision that white matte box with metallic text on it, and a simple image of the product on the cover.
All of Apple’s products are user-friendly and they wanted to extend that thought to their packaging as well. Visibility comes into play as visual contrast is a key component to competing in the marketplace.
No Name Brand Packaging
A bright yellow background with a black Helvetica font and the name of the product on it (sometimes with a modest description of the product) but not much else.
No Name is a generic grocery and household items branding that’s actually one of Canada’s most recognised brands currently. They’re a brand that prides themselves on essentially being brandless – and yet everyone can identify their products.
When you walk down the aisle in your grocery, you can always differentiate the No Name products from others because of their iconic colour – a sunshine yellow. They basically own that colour in grocery stores because of the immediate association with the brand and is the perfect example of how minimalistic packaging can thrive in the current market.
You may have seen this brand a lot more in recent times – they’ve just launched their largest ad campaign in the company’s history. They’ve capitalised on their simplistic packaging and taken it to the streets – literally. In their latest campaigns, they have claimed a residential building with the text “building: may contain people”, and have branded other objects such as taxis, TTC buses and art posters.
Trends to Replace Minimalism
So you must be reading this article and thinking that minimalistic packaging is great! no downfalls at all! What can be better?
Well, remember earlier we discussed that minimalistic/simplistic packaging was effective because it stood out from the crowd. That led to more people adopting this packaging approach until almost every brand had simple packaging designs in some way or another.
That means that once again, all the packaging looks the same and companies need to find a way to stand out among their competitors. If you’re looking to switch from minimalistic packaging but want to sustain the overall message of your packaging then we have two trends that are on the rise and are on completely different sides of the spectrum.
Follow us for a minute.
Minimalism is very efficient in capturing the consumer’s attention – we don’t dispute that. But that’s only when it looks different from the rest of the products on the shelf. When all of the products have the same packaging and are only differentiated by colour, the customer becomes desensitized.
Take advantage of the simple surroundings and create a wall of difference with your branding.
Create a colour palette of 2-3 colours to accompany the white that everyone else has, and use a unique font. Add graphic elements that remain in your colour scheme but don’t distract the consumer. Use accessories with your logo or company colours on them (e.g. stickers) as closures for your packaging, the minimalistic approach is guaranteed not to have them. Try doing something out of the ordinary like combining Kraft paper with coloured text – your consumers won’t expect it!
I’m sure you can tell by the name, but this trend is the complete opposite to minimalism.
Maximalism is all about “bigger is better” in a sense, as maximalistic designs are bold, exaggerated and even energetic.
They’re in your face but don’t necessarily have to be loud. Maximalism is another trend that you see in everyday life from art to living spaces – it all just depends on what message you want to convey. This trend uses images and an overload of text to fill every empty space while telling a story.
Maximalism incorporates as many frills, patterns and colours that it can manage on a packaging product hoping that these heightened aesthetics draw the consumer’s eye.
so Is Minimalism Dead?
Not at all.
Minimalism is here to stay – just ask all the designers who thought it was only a fad.
With that being said – does minimalism work for every brand and for every product all year round?
The best way to figure out which kind of packaging you should use, is to do some brand reflection. Think of what you want your brand to convey, as well as its personality. What is your brand’s mission?
Once you can distinguish between a soft personality and a loud one, and figure out which one your brand is closer to, you’ll be able to choose the correct direction for your packaging.
Or if you want to skip all that then let us do it for you. Our custom packaging specialists are trained in the latest trends, material combinations and more. Contact us to start working on your packaging redesign today.