Minimalism means to omit needless things. It’s become quite the movement of sorts, influencing eating habits, graphic design, fashion and more. So, it makes sense that minimalism would take root in an industry like packaging, where supplies tend to be overused.

However, adopting minimalist packaging can be a delicate balancing act depending on your intentions and how you approach it. Let’s explore how minimalism affects packaging, how it benefits businesses, and 5 ways to create minimalist packaging without compromising protection.

What is minimalist packaging?

As minimalism is about reducing excess, minimalist packaging is achieved when all the unnecessary components are removed. And since packaging serves as both physical protection for products and a marketing opportunity for businesses, there are two ways to approach it:

Packaging design choices

As businesses and consumers discover over time, not every packaging choice made is the right one. For example, sometimes small products are shipped in huge boxes. That ends up consuming more packaging supplies than needed, costs more to ship, and runs the risk of not even protecting the product.

Using a smaller, more appropriately-sized box not only fits and protects the product better, it requires less void fill inside and lowers what it costs to ship it. That’s closer to minimalist packaging design.

Graphic design choices

Shipping packaging serves a second purpose: an opportunity for smart branding. In such an e-commerce-focused world, packaging is a chance to make your business look good and connect with your customers. Bright graphics, great copywriting and a smart unboxing experience can come together to create something unforgettable and arguably perfect.

But as it’s said, perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. It’s all too easy to add so many graphics, social media icons and printing techniques to a piece of packaging that it becomes unbearable to look at.

When it comes to graphic design, minimalist packaging is about removing all the elements that don’t get your message across. If your brand is uncomplicated and clean, your design should reflect that. Gold foil is impressive, but it’s best reserved for luxury brands. Printing on white boxes makes colors pop, but if you’re eco-conscious, kraft boxes often serve you better.

How does minimalist packaging help your business?

You’ll save money on packaging supplies.

Smaller boxes simply cost less than bigger ones. You’ll also buy less in the way of void fill materials like bubble wrap or packing paper. You may even find that you don’t need boxes at all, and that mailing envelopes like bubble mailers or eco-friendly mailers cover your needs perfectly.

You’ll save money on shipping costs.

DIM weight is how most shipments are priced these days. If you don’t reduce the size of your packaging and shed excess weight inside it, you will pay significantly when it comes time to ship it. Minimalist packaging helps to shrink your packaging footprint.

Your packaging will look better.

Minimalist packaging choices look cleaner and smarter. And, minimalist graphic design ensures your packaging isn’t plastered in clashing colors and excessive messaging. Messy and overwhelmed is not a good packaging look—we’re sure you’ve seen plenty of it.

You’ll have a better reputation with your customers.

By making smarter packaging choices, you reduce the amount of packaging materials in your shipments and you simplify your messaging. In turn, this gives customers the (accurate) impression that you know what you’re doing and that you take pride in the things you do. That kind of brand equity can’t be bought.

So, how do you create minimalist packaging?

1. Use the right size and style of packaging.

Survey your product and its shipping needs. There can be serious costs in using oversized packaging, so consider using more appropriate boxes. Or why use a box at all? A bubble mailer might be just what you need, and it doesn’t require tape or any extra filler. You know your products and your business best. You’ve got this.

2. Use less packaging material.

Can you reduce the amount of bubble wrap or packing paper in your shipment? If your packaging is sized to fit your products, you likely can (simply because there’s less of a void to fill). In fact, the right packaging can mean you may not even need protective fill at all, and instead—our favorite—concentrate on a great unboxing using something like custom tissue paper.

3. Use eco-friendly packaging.

That means any packaging made from sustainably-sourced, recycled, or minimally-treated materials. Thankfully, these days it’s becoming easier to find products like that (check out eco-friendly mailers and padded mailers to start). Creating an entire minimalist packaging strategy around eco-conscious material is absolutely possible.

4. Focus on one element of your packaging.

Choose one part of your packaging to focus on, rather than every possible aspect.

Use a custom printed box and close it with carton sealing tape. Or stick with plain corrugated boxes and imagine how good your logo would look in full color and endlessly repeating along a strip of custom packing tape. Even a simple custom label on a corrugated box speaks volumes about your minimalist packaging style. After all, less is more.

5. Make your shipping packaging into your product packaging.

Many e-commerce brands have embraced this tactic to great success. Have you ever signed up for a subscription box service? It comes right to your door, often in a beautifully printed custom front lock mailer, and it’s often the only packaging you’ll open. Everything inside is artfully arranged in a custom-cut insert, wrapped in printed tissue paper, or chilling alongside some colorful crinkle-cut paper.

It’s a seriously good look (and an unforgettable unboxing experience), and if it’s something you can adopt into your packaging strategy, you owe it to your business to explore it.

Minimalist packaging may seem like a trend, but its underlying intentions are changing the packaging world in some very interesting and permanent ways. It’s certainly not easy or quick to achieve, as it requires a lot of analysis and planning, but if you look at the growing number of examples out there, it’s certainly worth it.

You can explore the Knowledge Center for more ways to minimize and optimize your packaging. And if you’re looking to create that one standout piece of packaging, the Custom Shop has some incredible options for you. We’re kind of partial to the custom tape, as it’s simple to design, easy to use, highly effective and it’s also recyclable.

Have you pursued minimalist packaging for your products? Be sure to comment below or share pictures of it on social media. We’d love to see it!