Minimalism vs Maximalism- Which is the better choice for your packaging design?

You may have heard the famous saying “less is more” used frequently in day to day situations and being used in conversation across industries such as interior design, fashion, beauty and art.

When it comes to graphic design, many successful designers have adopted the “less is more” concept throughout their work, also known as minimalism. The term originates from British philosopher Richard Wollheim’s 1965 critique of a group of artists for their “minimal art content”. Since then, it has evolved in meaning and esteem; people no longer view it as a critique, but rather a symbol for the everyday consumer.

The minimalist technique uses only necessary elements for functionality, producing a simple, clear and sophisticated look. It is prolific in design; from ‘millennials’ using a minimalistic approach when it comes to designing their homes, to web page designers using it to offer a better UX across web pages they create. Furthermore, the uprise of simplicity has been the catalyst for many successful businesses to turn to a rebrand. 

Maximalism, as you may have guessed, is the drastic opposite. As an aesthetic of excess, its philosophy can be summarised as “more is more”. Maximalist designers believe this technique expresses individuality by using bold colours, textures and patterns to fill up empty space. With more designers opting for minimalism, it’s no wonder that a number of brands are now leaning in the opposite direction in order to be distinguished: after all, a product that diverges from what is popular can now be seen as exceptionally unique.

Which is the better choice for your design?

Let’s take packaging design, for instance: your typical supermarket deals with an inventory of over 40,000 different branded products daily. Ask yourself: would your minimalistic design stand out from a crowded supermarket shelf?

Ultimately, it depends on the brand voice you want to communicate. Are you looking to be an unmissable, enthusiastic brand shouting for attention? Or do you aim to be sophisticated, to the point and no-fuss?

To explore the advantages of and highlight the differences between minimalism and maximalism, let’s start by taking a look at some recent minimalist rebrands…

Examples of minimalist design

BT

BT’s default mantra “Simple is good” is now reflected in their recent rebrand which delivers a no-nonsense brand identity, with greater focus on the product and customers. The simplicity and minimalism of their new logo has proven controversial, and many have criticised the amount of time it has taken the company to reveal this look; however, we would argue less clutter in design is always a positive. It allows the customer to immediately recognise the branding and straightaway discern the key message the company wants to display.

Mastercard

Mastercard’s completely wordless design couldn’t be more minimalist if it tried! Although the logo consists of only two overlapping red and yellow circles, this design has become an emblem that is recognisable worldwide; immediately associated with Mastercard.  This brand identity, again, links to the key message that the company wants to express: connectivity and seamlessness.

Now that have looked at two effective examples of minimalistic design, let’s look at how they can be the key to success.

Advantages of minimalism design in packaging

Now that have looked at two effective examples of minimalistic design, let’s look at how they can be the key to success.

-Stand out with simplicity

As David Raskin, professor of contemporary art says: “The richer you are, the less you have.” Some may disagree, but a minimalist design can actually be more eye-catching than an elaborate design. When all the other packages on the shelf are overflowing with busy designs, a simple design will stand out more. Therefore, it can stand out against all the clutter from other designs because it’s different and having a minimal design can grab the eye of passers-by. The design displays a quiet confidence of its own, which allows the product to speak for itself.

-Clarity of information

A minimalistic design can potentially convey honesty, with nothing else to distract the eye the minimal design can clearly communicate what your product is and what goes into it.  Minimalists work seeks to get to the heart of what is actually important, cutting away all the minor details and displaying only the most important. Having a minimalist approach to packaging, such as only displaying necessary information and uncomplicated designs, also presents your product as fuss-free, which is something that consumers certainly look for.

-Timeless

Minimalism is one of the few design trends that just never gets old, the simplicity of it makes minimalism easy to incorporate into a number of product variations across numerous platforms.

Examples of maximalism in design

Although minimalist designs cut out the nonsense, some consumers like the level of mystery from some brands that are less straightforward. Therefore, the levels of curiosity evoked by maximalist branding may also be something to consider.

Pukka Tea

This brand doesn’t like to go unnoticed when it comes to their packaging design. Each line of their tea is represented by a vivid colour scheme and pattern that evokes the tea’s flavours in a wild, repeating motif – invoking mystery, nature and adventure all at once which engage their target audience and spread their message by catching their eye with strong designs which can’t be missed.

Advantages of Maximalist design used in packaging


-Evokes curiosity and mystery

Contrarily to minimalism which uses the only elements that the design needs to function, a maximalist design uses a variety of patterns, designs, and elements that make the design become unmissable. Therefore, these designs may be quite random in their selection and not directly something you might associate with that brand. As a result of this, a maximalist design can evoke creativity and create a sense of mystery leaving the consumer wanting to find out more or purchase which can be a great aspect for a product on a busy supermarket shelf. A vibrant, loud design is certain to stand out. 

-Unmissable and can bring the brand to life

Your product may not be known for evoking excitement when people think about it. For example, you may be a dishwasher tablet brand which many people do not associate with excitement, joy or any similar feelings. However, your packaging design can bring your brand to life and make your product more exciting through its standalone design.

-More likely to be shared on social media and have greater brand exposure

We all know that social media is all about sharing what looks the best with the rest of the world. Whether this may be a flawless photograph of yourself, or a design you like the look of, by making your packaging more visually appealing and interesting it is more likely to get shared across social media platforms.

Ultimately, this is free advertising tool to a large audience for your product which is no doubt going to increase brand exposure. Also, 66% of consumers have tried a new product because of its packaging and 70% of consumers have stated that they form the decision whether to purchase on the packaging.

Conclusion

As discussed, simplicity and intricate detailing both have their place in the packaging world. However, the style that is best for you really depends on how you want your packaging/design to speak to its audience. Between latest trends, what competitors are doing, and your own preferences – there’s no question that defining your brand identity can be difficult decision.

Ultimately, we believe that originality is what entices consumers. Originality provides your audience with something other brands haven’t delivered, but this is easier said than done. You may not be able to get to the root of what your brand truly represents – which is why you should always seek professional advice when it comes to creating your trademark image.

Creative agencies such Media Village have a set of procedures and resources available to help you get the most out of your brand. We have successfully worked with many well-known food companies at every stage of the marketing process, collaborating creatively to reach the best design solution for their needs.

Together, we can also help you to unlock what makes you stand out for the crowd and create a brand identity that is unmissable and unique to you.