One of the constants of branding has been communicating a brand's evolution over time to show its resilience through different trends. While some packaging trends come and go, certain trends that result from new research on consumer psychology have lasting impact. According to the head of brand marketing for 99designs, Caitlin Collins, the following four trends are impacting the current approaches to packaging design.
Brand personality mixed with diverse characters
The era of the brand mascot has never really ended, as these characters help create associations with feelings among target audiences. The mascot strategy has been used across various industries from breakfast cereals to fast food restaurants. Mascots are useful for mirroring the personalities and values of target consumers. They add a spirit of fun to a brand, which can make consumers smile when they see the mascot on packaging.
A brand mascot or avatar can be a character of any kind that has an expression matching the mood of the brand. Cheerful mascots make it easy to associate celebration with an entire line of products. The most successful brand mascots in history have been simple but unique and colorful characters. An ongoing packaging trend has been brands periodically updating their traditional mascots with a fresh look. The current Tony the Tiger, for example, is much different from the original from last century.
For the past several decades, a persistent branding trend has been the use of nostalgia. When a brand taps into an earlier era, it can be an emotional experience for people for which it triggers memories. For adults who are busy with their careers and don't have time to keep up with current trends, nostalgic branding can have exceptional value. Consumers generally find comfort and familiarity in brands that echo nostalgic themes, especially of childhood memories.
A classic theme that has managed to remain current is minimalism, which is easy to convey on packaging. Minimalism is a type of simple presentation that takes people back to simpler times. Many times minimalism can convey freedom from over-hyped products. A great way to capture the spirit of nostalgia, minimalism and product protection all in one package is to use metal containers. Aluminum particularly touches various eras of the past century. Its shine contributes to the concept of a classic quality.
Nostalgia comes in many forms, as it can be embedded in visual designs in subtle ways. Sometimes certain color schemes or fonts become symbolic of corresponding eras. The sixties, for example, is often characterized with bold and curvy letters. One of the main reasons to use nostalgia in food packaging is to connect with a specific older age demographic.
Key product highlights
Unique packaging is an effective strategy for making a brand stand out on a store shelf. As long as the packaging communicates what the product is, its uniqueness can draw attention among shoppers. The best way to present the product accurately is for all the emotional cues embedded in the packaging design adding up to a cohesive message. The color and brightness of the package, for example, should match the mood of the product.
The packaging design can be abstract and allow for individual interpretation. Using an abstract approach gives designers more flexibility and freedom to be more artistic. The idea that "art doesn't sell" simply isn't true. Today art is what stays in people's heads the most from logos to mascots to other creative packaging elements.
Creative colors and textures
Ecstatic colors have emerged as a branding trend in recent years, with bold and saturated images growing in emphasis. These colors match well with black or white logos, allowing for a wide range of visual experimentation. Brands that focus on minimalism can turn to foil printing on reflective metal. Embossing on packaging adds the perception of higher value, due to its classy appearance.
Giving consumers a unique but minimalist texture can create the impression of a more upscale product. The combination of creativity with color and textures on packaging makes people curious, sometimes enough to touch the package. The beauty of metal packaging is that its shine can accent colors ,while its texture communicates strength and durability.
Branding through packaging design has plenty of different aspects for packaging designers to explore. In 2023 the key trends involve personality, nostalgia, colors, textures and emphasis on product highlights. In an era when many manufacturers question what types of packaging materials are most sustainable, metal packaging remains a resilient selection. Its ability to protect food products makes metal packaging timeless beyond trends.
References and Further Reading
[ 1 ] Four Packaging Design Trends for 2023 (2023), by Caitlin Collins