Trend Report 2020: Monochromatic Packaging

by Bill McCool on 12/18/2019 | 4 Minute Read

2020 is finally here, and it's that time of year where we get to play Nostradamus and tell you where the future of branding and package design is heading. 

This is the fourth installment in our 9-part Trend Report for 2020; to view the other sections, click on the following hyperlinks to read about Brand Merch', The Rise of Non-Alcoholic Booze, White Claw Summer, Patterns, The Plant-Based World, Non-Binary Branding, Flexible Logos, and Material Innovation.


The new minimalism for 2020 is monochromatic packaging, which, when you really consider it, doesn’t feel all that minimal.

Pretty much every designer got the memo last year when Living Coral was named Pantone color of the year, and they decided to run amok with it. Think deep, saturated, and bright AF hues. In some ways, it almost feels like a sister to the Scumbro trend of last year, and while the color itself might feel garish in the extreme, it’s more of a minimalist backlash to the excess of the previous year. It’s stripping everything down to its minimal core but with max color, minus the white or negative space.

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How we relate to or perceive color is essential when it comes to bringing a brand to market, and while there is a lot of research about what sort of feelings a color might trigger, a lot of it is unclear as studies show it’s far too dependent on personal experience and cultural differences. 

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But letting a color own an entire canvas can have a maximal effect, drawing consumers in and letting them take note of your product—instant recognition after stopping them dead in their tracks on the shelf or an Instagram feed. Which makes sense; in a study on the impact of color on marketing, 90% of snap judgments about a particular brand or product are based solely on color. 

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Grooming line Fellow, Method Men, YUNGBLD’s hair care line for blonde, Svedka’s Cherry and Citron vodkas, and even some of the products sold under Target’s new private label Good & Gather all had packaging that featured one prominent color. 

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A bold color can take something as clinical and mundane as tile adhesives or drink supplements and make it pop, drawing attention to the type or a brand’s logo. RXBAR’s branding does the same, except it frames the package design around the minimal use of ingredients in every bar, all against the backdrop of a single color (we’re looking at you Mint Chocolate and Pumpkin Spice).

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In some cases, the product itself can become the color of the packaging. Design Army rebranded JRINK juicery, and aside from the white text on the glass bottle, the juice does all of the talking, coming in a wide array of colors, showcasing the natural ingredients and all of the good stuff within.

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Even in the sustainable sector, you can find the same emphasis and focus on bold shades, sometimes lending a premium connotation. Myro serves up a refillable deodorant with minimal and functional packaging, while Stay Sixty’s stainless steel water bottles feature some elegant industrial design.

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Brands like Seth Rogen’s Canadian cannabis brand Houseplant uses multiple shades of the same color to brilliant effect. With its VHS-inspired packaging, their lineup of products comes in green, purple, and yellow—tones meant to convey the feeling of your high, but the text comes in a lighter shade of the base color. 

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Similarly, B&B Studio’s work for premium chocolate maker Raw Halo features a bold color with the brand’s wordmark in a lighter or deeper shade of the wrapper, while Eftihiai Liapi’s book covers for a series of psychology books (the amazingly titled School For Disquiet Parents) showcases an illustration in a darker hue than the background.

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The last thing you want to do is overwhelm a consumer when it comes to packaging design. If done well, using one vibrant color along with a simple type can help a product break through the noise and capture our gnat-like attention span. And, hey, who doesn’t like a little color now and again?

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