Package designs are successful when they truly stand out.
The tricky part is determining what standing out means for your audience. To me, the products that stand out the most are the ones that take a confident stance on being beautiful things unto themselves. They don’t try to sell themselves too hard with giant product claims and flashy colors. Instead, they are like decorative objects. They are things you want to display proudly in your home. Or better yet, they feel like special gifts.
I tend to think that simple, understated design is the best way to communicate elegance and quality. My favorite package designs use ample white space and a few carefully selected elements. This doesn’t have to translate to austerity or coldness. Quite the opposite. Minimal design can evoke warmth and character just as powerfully as busier designs.
The principles of simple package design can apply to anything you’re trying to sell. Ask yourself: what’s the single most important thing your product should communicate? Focus on that message and let it breathe.
Use design to evoke core feelings like tranquility, sassiness or humor. Add subtle touches that surprise and delight. Refrain from saying so much that you mask the core beauty of your offering. In other words, don’t make a product, make a special thing that you want to look at again and again.
Here are a few of my favorite minimal designs. Their simplicity is what makes them most memorable.
Cleaning products should feel clean. These labels are so simple and charming. The clear bottles and the bright white says pure and environmentally safe without having to actually say it.
Jamie Oliver Sea Salts
I love the authentically handwritten typography and the little touches of illustration. These packages are like fun gift bags for a foodie party that I can’t wait to join.
Mast Brothers Chocolate
This packaging really feels like a gift. Each flavor has it’s own unique pattern, and they’re all gorgeous. But there’s something special about the absolute simplicity of these wide blue and white stripes. They really evoke sea salt without having to illustrate it.
Kings County Distillery
You can’t throw a rock in Brooklyn without hitting some kind of artisanal distillery. There’s something nice about how little this bottle is trying to be anything other than that: a local, hand-crafted product.
Juice to You
This label lets the beauty of the juice shine. The color is enough to clue us into the ingredients, and the basic claims (organic and raw) are present without being overbearing. The choice of a glass bottle over plastic adds a more premium and local vibe. I feel healthier just looking at this bottle.
Here’s another case where the beautiful product is the hero. But these labels add rather than distract from the cute gelato pops. The scalloped edge and the italian typography adds just enough nuance to make these pops feel sophisticated without compromising on fun.
The pink in the logo is powerfully set against classic black and white. The girly script, the clean sans serif and the casually drawn logo all add up to an approachable but sophisticated look.
I love how the bear and the colored circle tell a different story for each product. There are a million ways to reinvent these stripped down elements to keep them fresh and distinct. This is a perfect example of minimalism not taking itself too seriously.
I would never advocate for minimalism just for the sake of it. The design approach should always serve the brand.
But if you’re packaging a product—whether it’s an ebook, a workshop or a physical object—a minimal approach is a good place to start. Strip your message down to the barest essentials, and then polish those elements so they shine like gold. Add more information as needed, but don’t oversell.
The browsing experience should feel like a breath of fresh air, not like a trip to the bargain basement.
Aspire to make something that people genuinely want to integrate into their lives. If the presentation of the product is cluttered, it will feel ordinary, and the key messages will get lost.
Confident simplicity is a useful selling tool. There’s no right and wrong way to design a package, but the goal should always be: stand out in an authentic and artistic way. Sometimes that means saying less and showing more.
What are some of your favorite minimally designed packages? How can you use this concept of minimalism to bring more beauty and simplicity into your own life?