Design in 2017 – what will packaging look like?

As part of our series on the future of design in 2017, Coley Porter Bell CEO Vicky Bullen looks at what will happen in packaging design over the next 12 months.


What do you think 2017 will hold for packaging design?

I hope that we will see the pack design brief banned, to be replaced with a brand world brief. Modern marketing makes a nonsense of thinking about packaging design in isolation of the influence that it will have on the rest of the brand’s world.

We will see more of a different kind of sustainable packaging: not just in terms of recyclability and minimalism but rather packaging made from waste products. Even the luxury brands have tiptoed into this area, with Veuve Cliquot making packaging from grape skins. And it is even more meaningful in cases like this, where the waste is linked to the product itself.

There will be more randomisation and limited editions in packaging design. This is the new personalisation. Brands can help people express themselves by giving them choice and allowing them to pick the design that best expresses them. This is critical to a millennial audience who strive to express individuality in all they do.

We will continue to see the rise of ecommerce having an effect on packaging design. Hierarchies need to be simplified and clutter stripped away so that the most salient visual equities can sing. Unilever have been ahead of the game in this respect. The role of packaging here is to win hearts at home rather than in-store; a beautiful pack without the sales clutter, and engaging back-of-pack storytelling.

The rise of the challenger brand, and the ability of the small player to gain traction through the online world has made many of the big boys think again about their strategy. There will be an ever-increasing need to challenge category codes, to find a more unique voice, to do things differently if they want to stay ahead of the smaller brands snapping at their heels.

What was your favourite packaging design project in 2016?

jkr - Domino's 3

I had many favourites! I loved the single-minded design of the brilliant Domino’s packaging created by JKR – simple brilliance. On the same theme, the Polo designs by Taxi Studio again stripped back to the essentials and were incredibly bold as a result.

The other one that caused a stir in the studio was Elderbrook Drinks by &Smith and We All Need Words. The beautiful integration of design and copywriting resulted in a gorgeous illustrative style and a brand with a very distinctive tone of voice.

And in a totally different vein, I loved the Weingut Knipser ageing wine bottles created by German consultancy Kolle Rebbe. Each one will become a unique and truly beautiful work of art as the copper casing ages with its contents.

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