Has the packaging design industry maxed out on minimalism?

Every package design trend has its day. What is in vogue eventually becomes passé, as designers look to zig against the existing zag and ensure their products have the greatest impact on shelf amidst a sea of sameness. Eventually, the market catches on, a new design style emerges in popularity and the evolution begins all over again.

Over the past decade or more, minimalism has become the gold standard. Entrepreneurs, marketers and designers alike have all attempted to take a bite out Apple’s success and the brand’s singular focus on clean and simple design. Minimalist design operates on the philosophy that less is more. This approach contributes to a strong and focused layout that radiates a quiet confidence and allows the product to speak for itself. A minimalist approach also traditionally entails displaying only the necessary information in large, sans serif type. When imagery is used, it’s typically a two-dimensional illustration using colours that stand in bold contrast against the background.

Minimalism is a design approach Bellwyck has gladly embraced over the years, while attempting to push the boundaries ever-so-slightly with luxe printing techniques such as UV coatings, metallics and a strategic use of embossing or debossing. This hybrid approach has enabled us to pursue greater creative liberties while giving our clients a more noble shelf presence.

Now, we’re noticing the pendulum has started to swing back in the other direction. While minimalist design has a certain cachet that easily appeals to consumers because of the simplicity and clarity embedded in the style, a maximalist approach can help your brand stand out on a wall of minimalist-driven designs. While minimalism conveys a refined elegance, maximalism is loud and shameless. The design style has a certain ostentation and extravagance built into the creative palette, both lavish and whimsical at once.

Hallmarks of maximalist design include bold colour choices and unexpected colour combinations, elaborate details, contrasting patterns and motifs, rich three-dimensional imagery and ornamental serif or script fonts. Want to use UV coatings, metallic foils, soft-touch textures and holographic images? Sure, why not! The only rule is that there are no rules.

Except there is always one very important rule when it comes to packaging design: whatever creative flourishes and embellishments utilized, everything still has to be in keeping with your brand personality. Never lose sight of who your brand is and what it stands for. For this reason, maximalist design isn’t for everyone. An elaborate package design with all the bells and whistles for a generic in-house value brand is simply wrong. Outside of the package design realm, a maximalist brand identity for not-for-profit charity sends exactly the wrong message.

Not sure whether your brand should have more of a minimalist or maximalist vibe? There’s lots of room for compromise between the two extremes. Rather than going all-out, we can explore one or two strategically selected elaborate features that can be incredibly effective at increasing your visibility. Perhaps we can explore a unique shape to your packaging that screams for attention, or apply one of our myriad luxe print techniques in a new and innovative way that will stop consumers in their tracks.

While the tide is turning from minimalist to maximalist, now is a great time to start thinking about your next design iteration. While simplicity will likely continue to have a big presence in the consumer world in the near term, there is no doubt that incorporating some maximalist techniques now will be highly effective at conveying a unique brand character while enhancing memorability. Originality in the CPG sector always has and, hopefully, always will be a value that stirs consumer interest. A maximalist or near-maximalist design could be just what your brand needs to stand out from the crowd today and into the future.

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