February 12, 2024

Dieline’s 2024 Trend Report on Packaging, Branding and Marketing Part 1

Trends are everywhere now, and businesses are constantly inundated with new flavours of the week or even the next five minutes. They can live anywhere from one week to two months. The temporary nature of trends makes it difficult to name a moment and settle – brands must keep up, innovate and pivot constantly.

In this article, let’s dive deeper into various trends and developments in packaging and branding, shedding light on the evolving landscape of design and consumer behaviour. It delves into several key themes, such as the impact of AI on design, the resurgence of Art Deco-inspired design, the importance of sustainable packaging, the prominence of typography in packaging, and the shift towards innovative refill systems.

The Bioplastic Shuffle

In recent years, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have focused on bioplastics instead of reducing their plastic footprint by 25%. They have developed a bioplastic bottle prototype using plant-based paraxylene (bPX) and corn sugar. They even shifted towards agricultural byproducts or forestry waste to make the bottles. 

However, brands are not interested in reducing their plastic footprint and prefer another polymer entirely. Bioplastics can be part of a circular design system, but they have yet to prove their viability in a circular ecosystem and can be made with a lower carbon footprint or using renewable energy sources, but they require land and are resource-intensive. Disposing of bioplastics is challenging due to their chemical structure and toxic chemicals. Bioplastics carry a resin code of 7 or “other” and are often rejected from recycling facilities. They also use toxic chemicals. 

Sandro Kvernmo, co-founder and creative director of Goods, believes that bioplastic is the plastic industry’s marketing dream, but it has many downsides, including spreading microplastics. Designers and brands need to address the challenges of bioplastics, as they are substrates that need to be recyclable and lack the infrastructure for wide-scale adoption. Brands must take responsibility for their waste and the entire life cycle assessment of these materials to ensure their success.

Graza Olive Oil & Its Practical Plastic Squeeze Bottle

The packaging industry has seen a surge in the popularity of chef-inspired designs, with many food and beverage products incorporating a back-of-house aesthetic. This trend has been fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a greater emphasis on cooking at home and the need for new revenue streams. This opportunity has resulted in the rise of instant noodles and other easy-to-make dishes, such as ramen noodles and homemade cocktails.

The trend of leaning into chef and food culture is expected to continue, with brands like Food Network’s Molly Yeh potentially launching a “hot dish” line in the freezer aisle at Target that revels in home cooking tropes. This could be an instant hit, as there are certainly worse things than slapping on an apron. The back-of-house aesthetic is not just about the taste but also about the presentation of the product. As the trend continues, more brands will likely follow suit, embracing the chef-driven aesthetic and embracing the food culture.

Barbie World

Greta Gerwig’s film and Taylor Swift’s tour have clearly influenced branding and packaging in the modern times, encouraging people to embrace designs centring on the female experience enthusiastically.

Barbie World is about the power of girls and women, with advertising Best Studio as female-led being one of their most significant selling points to potential clients. They love working with female-run brands and businesses. The female experience is simultaneously universal but unique to girls and women, creating a safe space for anyone of any gender or background who’s down to join. Best Studio‘s work on Girls Trip, founded by a mother-daughter duo, is a prime example of this trend.

New Wave Quirk

TikTok has inspired a visual aesthetic known as “Hipness Purgatory,” which emerged in the early 2000s as a response to digital technology. This aesthetic is characterized by nonchalant drawings, ironic undertones, and a quaint, retro vibe, similar to movies like Juno or Napoleon Dynamite. Day Job, an agency known for forward-thinking branding, released a design for beauty brand Radford featuring hand-drawn elements and a tween aesthetic, contrasting with refined frosted bottles, neon colours, and white space. 

The Nostalgia Trend

The 2022 Trend Report highlights the trend of 90’s nostalgia in design, which has become a mix of different eras and micro trends. This has led to cultural confusion in the industry, with designers pulling influence from various sources and creating their own remixed pastiche of everything. This is largely due to brands’ over-reliance on nostalgia marketing, which has become oversaturated with sentimental feelings and good times deja vu.

Design and branding can’t make up their minds, as everything is momentary, and nothing cements itself or becomes sticky to modern culture. The Kardashians are the only persistent trend, but it is essential to remember that nostalgic retro design IS a good design. Recent redesigns like Canada Dry, which relied heavily on brand archives but incorporated elements of the 90’s, have shown that nostalgia can be a powerful tool for designers to create memorable and memorable experiences.

In conclusion, the nostalgia trend in design results from the cultural zeitgeist and the need for brands to adapt to the changing landscape. However, it is essential to remember that nostalgia is not bad design, and there are still moments from the past worth highlighting in the present.

Pride Packaging & Campaigns

June’s annual Pride celebrations have brought about a range of brands with Pride packaging and campaigns, some great and some misguided. Brands like Harry’s and Skittles, have been criticized for monetizing marginalized people during a month designed to honor them. However, brands can approach Pride in an informed way that supports the community. 

In 2024, brands need to be louder and prouder than ever, taking inspiration from brands like Adidas, The North Face, Fenty Beauty, and Savage x Fenty by Rihanna. Companies can also get creative, such as Havaianas’s permanent Pride campaign and Scarlett Johansson’s The Outset, highlighting LGBTQIA+ nonprofits and sparking donations. Cracker Barrel, a Southern comfort food chain that previously discriminated against gay employees, participated in Nashville Pride in 2023 despite the hate they received.

Read more for Part 2.

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