Why design is one of the most impactful agents of change

How we consume and connect with brands today is rapidly changing. As we move into the future, this presents both a challenging and exciting opportunity for packaging design, as one of our most important consumer touch-points and cultural markers.

If we looked back at 2015 from even just 30 years into the future, packaging design would tell us huge amounts about the human culture of our time. It would leave a visual – and true – record of our society, our consumption and peoples’ needs and behaviours.

We live in a brand-dominated world – a world of unbelievable choice but one that can, conversely, also lead to confusion and overload. Brands need to refine their offer so that it all has real meaning, change their motivation from selling to helping, form more honest and relevant relationships and carefully select the channels and mediums in which they expect us to interact with them.

This is where design must come into play. Design is not just one of the most impactful agents of change but it is essential to culture and problem solving. By defining a future focus underpinned by the big idea, and using design to realise it, brands will be able to fully meet these new needs in a relevant and revolutionary way and also store what we need for our future generations.

The potential for packaging design is immense but these 5 predictions are the ones that I think will make the most impact creatively, culturally and commercially:
1) Increased personalisation – rather than products, we will want to buy providers of services that make our lives better. This will present new, if complex challenges for brand packaging and design to provide solutions with a strong designer’s aesthetic.

2) Home production – in a similar vein, we will look to create home production experiences, expecting brands to provide prescriptive but original viewpoints that allow us to interpret them to fit around our own lifestyles at home, taking us beyond the brand.

3) Shape-shifting – new ideals, new concepts of structure and new innovations in materials and technologies are shifting consumer perceptions of the physical form; steering new directions for brands and culture as a whole as we inevitably move from the brand design we know today to the biomimicry of tomorrow.

4) Scaling innovation – brands still need to succeed within the mass market but must address a moral, social, political and ethical agenda. We expect to see a stream of diverse and creative initiatives but what will be most interesting is to see how brands meet this new need through brand and packaging design, to bring innovation to life – and to better lives.

5) Sharing stories – brands need to refocus on just how they create, share and help us experience their stories. Today’s memorable brand stories are the ones that are able to break out of the category style, engaging and innovating in a new and distinctive visual and written narrative across all touchpoints from location to packaging that is refreshingly unique to create a deep connection and lasting legacy.

As designers, we have the power to illustrate what change will really mean – and could really look like – for brands, products, services and society in the future. It is design’s role to make change real, introduce the new and help us see the future sooner.

Originally published on D&AD.