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Minimalist VS Maximalist Packaging Design: Appealing To The Right Audience.

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Minimalist VS Maximalist Packaging Design

Minimalism is a buzzword in packaging design, maximalism… not so much. There is, however, a silent debate about these two approaches and which is best. At SmashBrand, we believe that what matters is how a product performs, not what people think of it.

In this article, address minimalism vs. maximalism. From the beginning stages of the package design strategy to the finished product, with comparisons across various CPG categories. Then, we compare minimalist and maximalist packaging design, weighing out the risks and opportunities of each approach.

Is Minimalism A Packaging Design Trend?

The minimalist trend is all the rage among smaller boutique brands taking a D2C approach. Yes, we consider minimalism to be a graphic design trend. But less so among the category leaders, especially in retail environments.

Certain consumer audiences prefer simplicity. Their attraction leans towards calmer packaging. Other CPG consumers find their attraction to product packaging with bright colors, stylistic typography, and unique oversized packaging. There will always be a trend at both ends of the design spectrum.

Are these trends a direction for your brand? Before answering this question, narrow in on your ideal consumer and determine what they are looking for in packaging design. Then test against your hypothesis.

Minimalism vs. maximalism in the packaging design process

Minimalist and Maximalist Packaging In Supplements

In CPG, industry terminology often differs from consumer understanding. This is true for minimalist and maximalist packaging. Here’s a look at how we define both package design types.

What is Minimalist Packaging Design?

From a designers perspective, every successful design is minimalistic since it includes the packaging, messaging, and design element that most resonate with consumers. At our CPG agency, we exclude everything unnecessary from the design. Essentially, this is the theme behind the entire minimalist movement.

Across all CPG categories, minimalist packaging includes the right amount of white space. It lets the packaging breathe where messaging is visible from the appropriate distance. Crowded content, blurry design elements, and a confusing package will never be minimalistic in appeal.

What is Maximalist Packaging Design?

The maximalist design is lesser known. Essentially, the intent of maximalist packaging is capturing an audience that loves a loud label. Think about industries like MMA, motocross, and heavy metal music. We expect bold and intense is a part of branding.

This maximalist approach also applies to any category that showcases abstract artistic designs. Think of clothing brands like Ed Hardy, Affliction, and Cross Colours.

Maximalist Clothing Designs

Sometimes this can be bold color choices, whereas other times it looks like messaging turned into art that tells a story without the words being read.

When To Meet In The Middle

Having experience with successful CPG brands gives us a unique take on minimalism vs. maximalism. Whether its new product launches and product redesigns, we have seen heads scratch at the result of package design testing. We speak from experience when stating that often finished designs land somewhere between maximalist and minimalist in design.

  • The most simple designs may not win out even when brands understand minimalism to be a category driver.
  • The most bold designs may not win out even when maximalism matches the consumer profile.

We might assume that consumers are either a minimalist or a maximalist. In fact, even focus group lead you to believe you need to live at one end of the other. But what it always comes back to is actual purchase intent.

We consistently find that what consumers say differs from what they do.

Start With Your Package Design Strategy

The ideation of either a maximalist or minimalist approach begins during the package design strategy. Use both an abstract creative process and a streamlined process to determine. Here are questions a brand should ask when comparing a minimal vs. maximal design approach.

  • What is the current brand strategy? How does either option align with our existing brand resonance?
  • What is the competitive landscape? Are we trying to fit in or stand out against the competitors?
  • What does our buyer persona want? How does their lifestyle and interests dictate our packaging?

Chocolate Bar Minimalist vs maximalist design

What is Your Design Shelf Life?

Design life span is an important strategic consideration when approaching minimalist vs. maximalist designs. If you’re marketing to an industry where maximalism is a short-lived trend, designing for the moment is the wrong move. It makes more sense to create a design that’s congruent with your long-term brand identity.

However, you may be in an industry where the design needs to change frequently. While your design may not have the intention of aiming at a moving target, you can create your design understanding that its focus is predominantly on today’s market.

Testing Packaging Trends For Performance

Whether it’s choosing a minimalistic design or taking a maximalist approach, testing validates the packaging design strategy. Sometimes, it interrupts the design strategy and requires us to go back to the drawing board for a second attempt. Many CPG brands with a minimalist approach would have benefited from this S.O.P. as a part of their packaging design strategy.

SmashBrand Packaging Design Agency

Want your brand to have the best possible packaging for on-shelf performance? We can help. Our proprietary package design testing process makes certain that your product packaging will meet your brands and the retailers expectations. Whether it’s a maximal or minimal design, our team ensures that the look and feel of your package satisfies the consumer.

Book a time to discuss your project with our team.