5 Creative Custom Packaging Trends to Try in 2021

Learn from the pros at noissue about the biggest packaging trends coming in 2021, and how you can make your own designs.

Elly Strang

If there’s anything people need more of in their lives after the year that was 2020, it’s a little surprise and delight. Increased activity online and the embrace of eCommerce due to the pandemic means 2021 is an opportune time to be thinking about the customer experience, and how to make it more engaging.

If you’re a creative or a brand, one way to spark joy for your customers is through using custom packaging. It’s an awesome marketing tool for creatives as it means the artistry doesn’t need to stop with your work. On the contrary, custom packaging allows you to continue designing onto any type of packaging, from tissue paper, to tape and stickers, to mailer bags.

When all of these elements are combined together, it can create an unstoppable unboxing experience.

packaging noissue

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: if this is your first time dipping a toe into custom packaging waters, you could experiment with customizing just one packaging item, or a combination of a few.
It’s entirely up to what suits your needs – and your budget! However, keep in mind many quality packaging providers now offer low Minimum Order Quantities (MOQs) which means custom packaging is more affordable for smaller players than ever before.

If you’re feeling stuck for ideas, here are some of the key packaging trends playing out this year to get the inspiration flowing.

1. Instagram-worthy bold designs.

While 2021 promises to be an improvement on the year previous, the ‘new normal’ is here to stay when it comes to working, shopping and doing basically any other activity from home. 

This adoption of online-everything means social media’s role in marketing products is more important than ever before. 

This year, we can expect to see an uptick in bold packaging designs that help brands stand out on the feed and capture their customer’s attention amongst all of the distractions. 

This means clever use of typography, vivid use of color, retro patterns and beautifully intricate illustrations are all going to be popular, as they encourage more excitement and social sharing.
Custom mailer bags, such as Kraft mailers, and custom tissue paper provide the perfect canvas for brands of any size to let their individual identity shine through in design.

Custom packaging from Noissue
Custom packaging and artisanal details from Noissue

2. Eco-friendly smaller details (like shipping labels)

Consumers are demanding more transparency and thoughtfulness from brands when it comes to their packaging. A study from Traackr found that from 2018 to 2019, there was a 100% increase in hashtag mentions such as “#wastefulpackaging” and keyword phrases like “too much packaging”. 

Luckily, the times are changing. There are now packaging options available that allow you to have a completely sustainable approach, right down to the finer details.
This year, we will be seeing more brands using compostable shipping labels, custom compostable stickers or eco-friendly custom tape to add an extra level of design and show that their brand is thinking about the sustainability of each and every packaging layer. 

It also means there’s no need to worry about educating customers on removing stickers, tape or labels before throwing them in the correct waste disposal.  

Mailer from noissue
custom packaging tape from Noissue

3. Minimalist packaging design: the less is more approach

Are bold designs not your usual design style? Never fear: keeping your packaging designs simple can be effective, also. While there’s been a push towards social media friendly designs, a clean, minimalist packaging design is always on trend, too. 

Minimalism in packaging design is usually monochromatic: minimal colors, minimal graphics, but maximum aesthetics. Brands or creatives looking to tap into this trend should review their brand identity and see what brand elements can be drawn out to tell a simple but powerful story. 
Custom tissue paper is a great way to use a two-tone repeating graphic, like Aragma Swim has done.

If you want to go for an even more scaled-back look, opt for natural kraft paper packaging and amplify the decorative details like custom stickers or a stamp.

Minimalist mailers from Noissue
Custom tissue paper from Noissue

4. Creative uses of insert cards

When it comes to versatility in design, custom insert cards can’t be beaten. They’re an incredibly popular way for eCommerce businesses to share more of their brand ethos with customers through a tactile experience.

While traditionally they’ve been used to showcase a brand’s logo and social media handles, this year we can expect to see many more creative uses for them that capture people’s attention. 

Whether it’s a custom card that says thank you, tells the story of your small business, showcases one of your illustrations, or acts as an interactive tool for your customer to write on and share with someone they love, there are endless possibilities to get creative.

There are more environmentally responsible choices for cards than others, like opting for a recycled card over bringing virgin paper materials into use. Choosing custom insert cards that are made from 100% recycled materials, or a recycled and FSC-certified mix means they can be composted and returned to the earth with ease.

Custom cards from Noissue
Custom insert cards for packaging

5. Regenerative packaging.

The world is moving towards a greener future in many aspects, and this includes the packaging space. The majority of shoppers out there are pro-sustainability, which means brands have to get on board or get left behind. 

This year, we expect to see many more businesses transitioning to zero-waste packaging options and swapping out high-volume packaging materials for eco-friendly options. For example, choosing a compostable or recycled mailer bag instead of a poly (plastic) mailer can make a world of difference. 

If you want to move into this space too, consider shipping your orders in compostable Kraft or plant-based mailers that will break down naturally and leave no traces behind. In other words, completely regenerative packaging. It’s a great way to show your customers what you value in the world. 

Custom packaging from Noissue that says Hey! I'm a 100% compostable mailer.

When it comes to custom packaging, let your creativity soar 

In 2021, it’s a whole new world out there. As a creative or a brand, you should be rethinking everything, including your packaging. 

Now you’ve explored the trends above, try incorporating a show-stopping new packaging design into your unboxing experience.

Creativity is easily achievable when it comes to customization, so don’t be afraid to be bold, stand out and make more sustainable choices when it comes to your packaging – we promise your customers will appreciate your brand all the more for it. 

Elly Strang is digital editor at noissue. Want to find sustainable, customizable options for your eCommerce business? noissue lets you design your own branded eco-friendly tissue paper, stickers,  tape and more. Simply upload your design, logo, or illustration, and we'll do the rest. Learn more about our packaging options here.