Packaging Design Trends Packing a Punch in 2023

Packaging design plays a pivotal role in how your product and brand are perceived by customers. Not only does your label or package need to inform the buyer about what’s on the inside, communicating your brand personality through clever design choices is also key – whether that’s to stand out on a crowded shelf, or create connections with customers in their homes.

Every year we speak to the global community of professional freelance designers working on the 99designs by Vista platform to get their take on what packaging design trends we’re going to see in the year ahead. Their predictions for 2023, based on countless hours spent working directly with small businesses and brands all over the world, clearly reveal a trend towards the expressive and playful. This comes as little surprise as consumers and brands alike seek comfort, joy and escapism from some very challenging times.

If you’re looking to refresh your packaging design for the year ahead, then look no further than the biggest packaging design trends set to take 2023 by storm.

Creative displays of ingredients

Illustrated ingredients in punchy palettes are giving brands a fun, bold new way to showcase what customers can expect from their product. The simple, cartoonish illustrations give products a fresh, youthful feel and the bright, juicy colors help draw attention and differentiate between each variation.

In 2023, designers and brands are also using more abstract concepts to tap consumers’ growing appetite for transparency when it comes to the products (and brands) they invest in. Rather than just placing the product image on the package, creative use of color and geometric shapes give more subtle hints as to what’s on the inside – creating even more room for brands to be visually expressive.

Creating intrigue with pattern and texture

It’s a well known fact in the packaging design world that the more tactile a product is, the more memorable it is. With more and more designers leaning into this adage as we head into 2023, we’re seeing a rise in creative printing techniques like debossing, embossing, foil printing and die cut labels. These effects add more physical appeal and intrigue to packaging and can also help them feel more high end and luxury.

Another trend set to dominate packaging in 2023 is the use of wrap around patterns. Instead of confining the design work to the front of the product, seamless lines and shapes travel across all sides of the label and external packaging. This creates a flow and fluidity to designs that customers can help but pick up and explore.

Tapping into nostalgia

Nostalgia will forever offer us a sense of unparalleled comfort – which is why we see design styles from previous decades coming through time and time again in the trends of tomorrow. In 2023, we’re looking back to the ‘70s and ‘90s for some of that familiar relief after a tough few years.

The sticker book aesthetic that dominated the ‘90s is coming back in force, allowing many to escape back into happier and simpler times of childhood. These designs feature cute icons, stamps and doodles, placed seemingly haphazardly on a product to mimic the visual effect of a sticker book. Largely featured in bright colors, these designs are fun, youthful and charming.

Equally, the ’70s vintage aesthetic never goes completely out of style and in 2023 we’re seeing more and more packaging designs favoring the grooviest era to win the hearts of customers. Warm, earthy color schemes, particularly browns and oranges, chunky serif fonts and wavy lines make for some cool and comforting designs – which is exactly what so many of us need after another challenging year.

Bringing the fun with color and charm

Mascots have long reigned supreme in branding – and for good reason. These cheeky characters are incredibly effective at communicating a brand’s personality and creating connections with customers. Traditionally, brands tend to feature the same mascot across all their products but in 2023, we’re seeing these characters evolve and come into a life of their own. Whether it’s a change in outfit or activity, or exploring a new landscape, these subtle variations of a recognizable design element tie product lines together without sacrificing continuity – while also providing some light hearted relief.

Ecstatic colors are also providing plenty of joy in packaging design for 2023. It’s no secret that bright colors grab attention and in the year ahead you can expect to see these hues become flashier and brighter than ever. Saturated, ecstatic and largely neon colors are in vogue as designers amplify playfulness and personality to capture the attention of customers.

Keeping it personal with a hand drawn aesthetic

Typography trends in packaging almost deserve a list of their own. Playing such an integral role in the overall aesthetic of a product, each year we see new and different takes on type to draw customers in. In 2023, typographic scrawl is taking us back to basics with a casual handwritten, permanent marker style of lettering. The unevenly weighted brush strokes and imperfect handwriting style gives the impression that someone wrote it on the package almost as it left the production line.

Also adding a personal hand crafted touch to packaging design in 2023 are charming, line drawn cartoon characters that wouldn’t look out of place in a newspaper comic. The simplicity associated with this trend produces effortless illustrations that embrace imperfections rather than looking too pristine, which makes them eminently relatable. In contrast to the more polished trends for 2023, these two hand drawn styles give a more authentic, down to earth, DIY look and feel to a brand.

From quirky mascots and cartoon characters, to designs brimming with bold colors and vintage aesthetics, these trends are certainly a mixed bag of design styles and tastes. But one thing is certain: with packaging design becoming more fun, expressive and playful than ever, embracing the packaging design trends of 2023 makes creating a long-lasting, memorable impression for consumers easy.

Written by Caitlin Collins, Head of Brand Marketing & Comms at 99designs by Vista

Read next: 8 Graphic Design Trends that Will Dominate 2023
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