Minimalism: Design Considerations to Ensure Less Is More

A look at the trends influencing minimalism packaging design and innovation.

perfume bottles

By: Moira Stein
Date: June 26,


A lot has been made of the “minimalist” design trend that has gained momentum over the last several years. This refers to brand design that embraces a simple, subdued, and uncluttered aesthetic. Consumers often associate minimal package design with premium or “clean” products with higher quality or fewer ingredients.

A recent Journal of Marketing study of 1,300 packages in the largest supermarket chain in the U.S. found that “the simplicity of the package design is positively associated with price.” So, using a minimalist package design for your brand may seem like a no-brainer. But it’s not that simple.

Here are some pitfalls to avoid when implementing the minimalist design trend.

Blackland Gin
The Ordinary

Minimal Shouldn’t Feel Cheap

While minimal design can feel more premium, the Journal of Marketing study found that is only sometimes true. Store brands using minimalist packaging design don’t benefit from the same quality perception as non-store brands, likely due to consumers associating store brand products with lower quality. Therefore, simple packaging signals a further “lack of investment” and may feel generic. Minimalism doesn’t always hit the mark, and there can be a fine line between what’s perceived as high-quality vs cheap.

There’s an art to maximizing the impact of your minimal design. The perfect shape, size, silhouette, materials, finishes, ergonomics, and more can elevate a minimal package structure. When it comes to branding, the perfect combination of typography, sizing, spacing, and color selection can make the difference between generic and gorgeous. It is essential to work with brand and structural designers who understand the nuances of minimal design. The team at Studio One Eleven® has decades of experience working across virtually every category. With eight locations worldwide, the Studio has a deep understanding of global design styles and aesthetics.

Minimal Shouldn't Be Boring

Today’s consumers are increasingly experience-driven and looking to interact with brands in unique ways. According to GlobalData, people are “willing to pay more for products that satisfy them on a more experiential level.” It’s important to ensure minimal design does not feel boring but attracts and entices consumers. Finding ways to engage with consumers through packaging can differentiate your product from the competition and drive brand loyalty.

When using a minimal design aesthetic, consider ways to still create a unique user experience. This can include primary packaging with unexpected shapes, multi-sensory tactile elements, and premium materials. Secondary packaging can be minimalist while creating a special unboxing experience. Consider how the package opens – does it build a sense of excitement and anticipation? How is the product displayed – does it feel special and unique? Do the materials and finishes elevate the experience? How can you add an element of surprise and create delight?

Spoiled Child
Jim Beam
Rare Beauty
Ben & Jerrys
Happy CBD
Obsession Gin

Minimal Can Be Sustainable

There’s no doubt that sustainability is a priority for consumers. People want to support brands that align with their values, including a commitment to the environment. Minimal packaging can have sustainable benefits. Reducing unnecessary components like overwraps or inserts can reduce packaging waste. Lighter weight options can reduce fuel consumption and emissions associated with shipping.

However, the minimalist packaging solution may not be the most eco-friendly. A refill and reuse system with more components may ultimately have a lower environmental impact than a traditional bottle that constantly needs to be replaced. Berlin Packaging’s Global Sustainability Teams help customers find the most impactful and effective sustainable packaging solutions. We conduct lifecycle assessments (LCAs) to quantify a product’s environmental impact over the course of its entire lifecycle.

Minimalism Isn't Always
The Right Fit

No matter the trend, it’s important to ensure your package design aligns with your product positioning and personality. According to the Journal of Marketing study, the minimal aesthetic did not perform as well on indulgent products, noting that “when consumers seek to indulge, they are less willing to pay for products with simple packaging.” That’s likely because complex packaging graphics suggest more ingredients, flavor, and indulgence.

Packaging should always reflect your brand story and feel authentic and meaningful. If your brand is all about exciting flavors, it makes sense to feature delicious ingredient imagery. If your brand positioning is playful or whimsical, fun graphics help communicate that message. If your brand has a big, bold personality, minimal brand design may not be a good fit. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to brand design - it requires a strategic approach.

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The brands mentioned in this report are trademarks of their respective owners. Inclusion of these brands in this report is not meant to imply an association with or endorsement from the respective trademark owners.