What to expect in 2023 – a further look at packaging & branding trends…
Welcome back to the Equator crystal ball, where we look into the future and make our predictions for the year ahead. In part one, we explored three ‘macro’ trends set to dominate the packaging landscape in 2023: sustainability, accessibility, and digital interactivity. In part two, we’ll be diving deeper into the design features we expect to take centre stage this year, from typography and illustration to materials, colours and even emotions.
Against a backdrop of rising inflation and shifting consumer behaviours across the board, staying on top of trends and patterns – and predicting their forward direction – is important for brand owners, retailers, and the creative partners they trust to guide them. So, let’s get into it…
Enter the Magentaverse
It wouldn’t be a piece about trends if we didn’t mention one of the most anticipated: Pantone’s Colour of the Year. In the world of design, it’s more than just a colour. It’s reflective of prevailing moods, fears, and hopes, revealing people’s shifting priorities and perspectives. This paints an informative picture for brands looking to position themselves for future success.
The Colour of the Year 2023 is ‘Viva Magenta 18-750’ which, interestingly, was created with the input of AI yet is described as being “a shade rooted in nature” that welcomes “anyone and everyone with the same verve for life and rebellious spirit. It is a colour that is audacious, full of wit and inclusive of all”.
Laurie Pressman, VP of the Pantone Color Institute, set the scene for Viva Magenta. “The last few years were transformative in many ways in terms of people’s sense of self and the way well-being, priorities and identity are being thought about,” she commented. “As a result, space has been created where we are free to explore and be accepted for exactly who we feel we are, whether in a cybernetic universe, a conventional space, or a magical blend of both.”
As consumers, we are no longer grappling with a global pandemic or reeling from its emotional effects quite as viscerally. We’re looking ahead and thinking big, conceiving of innovative new ways to build a better world. While Viva Magenta is brave, it is also joyful and expressive. Brands looking to tap into consumer desire may want to go bigger with packaging that’s bold and inclusive.
We’ve already seen big, punchy colours hit the mark. The bold, brightly coloured cans we designed for Schnucks’ range of sparkling water were pure fun and scooped a Vertex Award, too! If there’s ever a time for pushing the boundaries and being a little rebellious, it’s now!
As with the Colour of the Year, typography also appears to be moving towards the more individualist, experimental end of the spectrum. We certainly expect to see more cursive, ‘hand-scrawled’ elements on pack in 2023 – something we utilised in the redesign of Dairy Farm’s ‘Nature’s Heart by Meadows’ brand to convey trust and warmth. And there’s evidence that disruptive new brands are using it too. Take Eat Fishwife, a female-founded food company that makes ethically-sourced, premium tinned seafood. Their vibrant, fun colours hit the Viva Magenta vibes on the head, while ‘hand-drawn’ doodles and typographic scrawl add an extra dose of personality and fun.
As we reconnect with physical touch post-pandemic, brands are increasingly using tactile packaging to engage consumers’ senses, engaging them emotionally and conveying quality at the same time. Previous research in sensory marketing has demonstrated the importance of the sense of touch during the in-store consumer experience, making tactile details, such as those created through processes like embossing important – and it’s not just luxury brands taking note. Those claiming to be sustainable will likely want to choose packaging materials that feel natural in consumers’ hands. A slightly rougher, recycled material may not convey ultra-premium, but it does send the right message to shoppers looking for brands that live their values.
Packaging as the product
Another trend inspired in part by sustainability concerns – but also by the cost-of-living crisis – is reusable packaging that has functional re-usable elements – even if that’s just as a keepsake. This is, most often, seen in packaging for giftable beauty products, which can then be used to hold toiletries or makeup. Take the Swedish skincare brand Oquist, which encourages its customers to upcycle its products’ packaging as decorative homeware! Non-luxury brands can get a piece of the action by simply getting creative. That could mean using illustrations or bright colours that make packaging interesting as a piece of art. Lush’s ‘knot wraps’ are a great example. Used to package gift products, they can then be used in a whole range of ways, from a wall hanging to an accessory! Not only does this help brands push their sustainability narrative; it also appeals to the part of us, as consumers, that enjoys a ‘free’ gift!
Ultimately, all of these trends share a feeling of optimism and a desire to do things differently moving forward. They are representative of a collective urge to be ourselves, to live our values, to connect with others and the world around us, and to be kind. It seems that 2023 is the year for brands with the courage and personality to be authentic and bold.
* Image via Pantone