When it comes to packaging design (opens in new tab), sometimes it's the simplest of designs that can be the most effective. These minimalist (opens in new tab) designs don't rely on glitzy or complicated packaging to define them or set it apart from the competition, nor do they rely on wordy text to describe their contents to the customer. Instead, it's what they don't say that speaks volumes.
Minimal packaging can portray elegance and refinement, purity and simplicity. It can demonstrate sophistication, or show off honest, quality ingredients, allowing the product itself to be the true star.
But perhaps most importantly, less complicated designs can be more effective in communicating a message to the consumer, making their decision-making process of which product to purchase much easier. And in a consumer marketplace bombarded with distracting visuals, a clean, minimal design on a shelf can offer the consumer a welcome break in an otherwise loud world.
In the case of the 10 examples we've selected here, less really is more...
01. Cheeky (opens in new tab)
Cheeky is a line of cosmetic products from Cowshed. Pearlfisher (opens in new tab) is the design agency behind the brand, which, although simple, is unique and instantly recognisable across the product range. Targeted to an audience of 18 to 30-year-old women, it has a fun, playful feel to it that goes in hand with the brand name.
Pearlfisher have previously designed for Cowshed, but their new design for Cheeky is distinctly different. Poppy Stedman, Design Director at Pearlfisher, explains: "Pearlfisher was asked to capture the lighthearted tone of Cowshed and translate it for a younger audience. Bold shades are designed to stand out and reflect Cheeky's more mischievous image."
02. Verso Skincare (opens in new tab)
Verso Skincare is a Swedish brand, and with its clean black on white design, it demonstrates a crisp, cleanliness with minimal fuss - a great message for a skin care product. When viewed next to other products on a shelf, its lack of colour and spacious design can offer a welcome breathing space for consumers, making it eye-catching. Today Creative (opens in new tab) is the agency behind the brand identity and packaging, which took a year to develop.
03. Mad beer (opens in new tab)
MAD Beer is a collaboration between brewer Mikkeller, and chef Jakob Mielcke, and the beers have been specially designed to be enjoyed with food. Keith Shore (opens in new tab) of Mikkeller is the man behind the label design, which, while being bold, distinctive and undeniably different, still remains very minimal and tells you only what you need to know.
04. Jing Tea (opens in new tab)
The Allotment (opens in new tab) were tasked with repositioning Jing as the alternative to traditional teas and coffees. They explain that their solution to this is 'focused on a journey of discovery'. "A multi-layered approach," they explain, "helps people uncover Jing's depth of knowledge, passion, and craftsmanship." The design - while on the surface appearing quite straightforward - reveals an intricate paper design, which progresses in layers further into the packaging.
05. Undercover Wine
Think twice before you decide to pour this on your cereal. As the name suggests, this is wine, undercover. Romanian agency Ampro Design (opens in new tab) designed this humorous wine packaging to demonstrate its reputation for being creative, and sent it out as a holiday gift for their clients. Who wouldn't be pleased receiving a fine Pinot Noir dressed up as milk for Christmas?
06. Waitrose Herbs (opens in new tab)
Here, design agency Lewis Moberly (opens in new tab) have put the herb at the very heart of their design. The bold flavours of the herbs are complemented by the bold, tabloid-style text which tells the consumer playful snippets of information about each product.
07. Dry Soda (opens in new tab)
Turnstyle worked on the rebranding of DRY Soda. They explain: "Like the original design, clear bottles allow the purity of the product to show through, and the founder's signature on each bottle connotes a sense of craft behind each flavour's recipe."
We love the use of bold colours that set apart each flavour, and the transparent packaging designed to show off that clear, thirst-quenching water.
08. ChariTea (opens in new tab)
ChariTea is another example of packaging putting the product to the fore. Design agency BVD (opens in new tab) explain that they gave ChariTea, "unique, characteristic packaging in which the contents play a highly visible leading role".
09. Puma Fragrance (opens in new tab)
Puma Fragrance was created to complement the Puma 'i'm going' brand campaign. The companion fragrance for men and women was launched in Europe, and Tank Design (opens in new tab) were behind the packaging and campaign art direction. The resulting design has an elegant simplicity, and is instantly identifiable as a fragrance from Puma.
10. Toscatti (opens in new tab)
Anagrama (opens in new tab) came up with a great solution to the problem of presenting the customer with the product's wide range of sizes and capacity characteristics. They kept it clear and straightforward, using an eye-catching Pantone-style colour scheme. They explain, "we developed a packaging system that would categorise the containers in a practical manner. Each product's capacity specifications come first in the design's hierarchy, and the distinctive colours come second."
Words: Samantha Stocks (opens in new tab)
Samantha Stocks is a freelance writer and editor.