June 4, 2019

6 Packaging Design Trends Dominating 2019

Packaging design trends fall in and out of fashion. It was true 100 years ago, and it’s true today. But sometimes certain design trends transcend the “fad” state and become full-blown best practices that any company can put to work in service of its brand goals. And in terms of 2019 package design trends, we expect these six to be the most popular.

1. Plastic-Free

One of the most powerful trends we’re seeing over the years is the push towards sustainable, plastic-free packaging. This is a great goal for any business, and through sustainable packaging tends to be more expensive than oil-based plastics, brands can generate serious goodwill from their customers by making an effort.

Plenty of companies have already made great strides in the eco-friendly packaging realm and use these products as a point of competitive advantage. For example, consider 60BAG and its eco-friendly alternative to disposable plastic bags.

Purported to decompose in 60 days, the company has made a name for itself as a pioneer in plastic waste reduction, even encouraging other brands to get on board by describing how a partnership with 60BAG can support other brands’ efforts to support an eco-friendly lifestyle.

If that’s not the perfect fusion of packaging design and brand messaging, we don’t know what is.

2. Minimalist Design

Minimalist design isn’t a new trend for 2019, but it’s gaining steam across all industries. Most of us know the benefits of minimalist design already: It telegraphs elegance, it removes clutter from cramped designs, and it lets customers focus more on the product itself.

These benefits translate to massive shelf appeal when compared against your more confused competitors. Just look at the packaging for the Mandarin natural Chocolate bar for an example.

This package must be the pinnacle of minimalist design; there’s barely anything there aside from a bit of black text against a white backdrop. But this simplicity works to its advantage. The packaging offers the product’s two key value propositions front and center: It’s natural, and it’s chocolate. What more do we need to know?

And while your own brand doesn’t need to go quite this minimal, it’s a great example of how less can be more in packaging design.

3. Bold Gradients

Minimalism is great, but what if your brand needs a bolder approach? If in fact, less isn’t more, we’d recommend another strategy making waves in 2019: Bold gradients.

Gradients are simple blends of two different colors, with a smooth transition between the two that creates a simple, yet eye-catching design. For a couple of great examples, look at the Mexican confectionaries from Bermellón, or fragrance bottles from The Body Shop.

Both examples feature rich color gradients that are just gorgeous. In both cases, the packaging design is meant to telegraph energy, excitement, and comfort—which is exactly what they get with their eye-popping designs. Here, it’s easy to see how bolder colors in a package design can translate to shelf appeal.

These stimulating designs encourage viewers to stop, engage with the product, and enjoy the rich color palettes as they decide. As brands get more courageous with their designs, we expect to see plenty more of these gradients in the coming years.  

4. Pastel Themes

You don’t have to go bold to see results—indeed, certain brands may get better results by taking things down a notch with color schemes based on soothing pastels.

Pastels are defined as any color with a high value (or lightness) and a low saturation (or intensity). Colors with these features tend to be soft and easy on the eyes, with an almost faded appearance. In terms of emotional resonance, pastels support optimism, joviality, and freshness—great connotations for any brand.

While pastel color schemes in packaging have been popular for a while, we’ve seen a resurgence in them throughout 2018 that’s extending well into 2019. Just look at how luxury brands like Cacao 70, Prescription Lab, or Bybi use soft, inviting pastels to telegraph the quality of their products. As time goes on, we expect many more luxury brands to pick up this torch.

5. Vintage Images

There’s something about vintage imagery that captures our attention, especially in 2019. Vintage branding is easy to spot in the wild, typically characterized by old-fashioned typography, soft colors, simple images, and an overall layout that suggests a “hand-made” aesthetic.

Check out the logos for New Belgium Brewing or the Bib & Tucker Bourbon from Deutsch Family for a few examples. They’re simple, understated, and effective. There’s a reason so many alcohol brands use vintage imagery in their designs. It’s a type of packaging design that doesn’t take much effort to implement but creates powerful associations in a viewer’s mind related to authenticity, style, and old-fashioned comfort.

6. Black and White

One packaging design trend for 2019 that nobody will be surprised to see is the growth of black and white design. There’s a perennial elegance and modernist appeal to black and white designs, something exemplified well in packaging design. Let’s look at tattoo care provider Electric Ink for our example.

These stark packages show how powerful black and white design can be. Featuring eye-catching images, scrawling text, and sharp, bold lines, Electric Ink’s branding is immediately recognizable. Without getting too flashy with colors, the brand uses contrast to push its hip, modern style.

Incidentally, this a good example of a layout that works best without color. With so much going on, varied colors may overwhelm the senses and be hard to look at. But by sticking to a monochrome color scheme powered by detailed images, Electric Ink has the perfect packaging style to support its brand goals.

2019 Package Design Trends to Watch

A quick note: This list is by no means a hierarchy of importance. All of these trends are effective ways to manage your package design, and different brands will get more mileage out of different tactics.

Look at your own packaging and see which of these trends fit best with your established packaging persona. None of these strategies is hard to implement—you just need to know which elements work for your brand and which new strategies will best support your goals.


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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