5 Packaging & Design Innovations We’re Excited About

June 6, 2023 Design Sustainability

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The world around us is constantly changing and, we don’t know about you, but it feels to us like there’s always something new to read about, keep an eye on, and try out!

Trying to stay up to date with new innovations and learn how to make the most of them in your work can be overwhelming, especially in the fast-moving and saturated FMCG industry. 

Design agencies and brand owners are often looked at to lead the charge with packaging and design innovations and, while investing in and trialling new technologies and techniques can be time-consuming and costly, the pay-off can be massive (to put it in technical terms!).

New innovations give designers and NPD teams the opportunity to try new things and position themselves as market leaders and innovators – so we’re here to help you out with 5 things we’re going to keep our eye on as they develop. We’ve done the research so you don’t have to! 


Creating bespoke bottles can be time-consuming and expensive. For some, this isn’t a problem, they have the time and resources to perfect their dream bottle, reflecting their brand and targeted towards their ideal customer. 

However, for some, this just isn’t realistic. This used to be a deal breaker but not any more! O-I has developed new technology which allows it to create a bottle emboss effect through 3-D digital printing. 

We have first-hand experience with this one as we created our own Heaven’s Highball brand to showcase the technique. 

Originally a label design, Heaven’s Highball is inspired by the legendary 2% of whisky that evaporates each year when stored in casks (the so-called ‘angels’ share which is sacrificed to the heavens to ensure a perfect product). The label design was elevated by the ability for the intricate pattern of the angel’s wings to be placed beyond the label and onto the bottle instead. The innovative relief printing increases the shelf presence and calls out to you to pick it up and feel the effect for yourself. 

O-I : EXPRESSIONS RELIEF has already developed to cover an unprecedented number of colours so we’re excited to see how this develops in the future and where they’ll be able to push this technology to. 

2. 3D Rendering

“This has been around for ages”, you may be thinking. But 3D rendering has climbed to heights we could only dream of a few years ago, and it shows no signs of stopping! 

Having an internal team of rendering experts has allowed us a special insight into the capabilities and potential of the rendering space. We don’t want to give away too much…but our team has created a whole host of incredible renders (and an entire bar…but really, we can’t spill any more!) 

The development of 3D rendering is worth paying attention to as the potential is virtually limitless. It’s becoming harder and harder to see the difference between rendered and photographed images which can be a massive benefit for marketing and branding teams all over the world (if you want to see a few examples for yourself, keep an eye on our blog over the next few months!). 

This image was created by Graphic Brands’ team for The Reflex Group, to promote their work for Fortnum and Mason’s Coronation Collection, hard to tell it’s not a photograph isn’t it? 

Rendering can also be partnered with the next innovation on our list to create unique experiences, encourage connection, and build a reputation. 

3. AI in Packaging

AI. It’s been the talk of the town for a while now. ChatGPT has been tested by many curious souls, someone has created a series of images of the Pope playing basketball, and thousands have used AI to create fantasy versions of themselves (don’t believe us? Google it!).

It can provide a whole host of laughs and conversation starters but it’s quickly becoming smarter than many people gave it credit for and, when directed and used in the right way, it can assist designers and brand owners in the creative process. With Dieline even predicting that AI will one day become a tool used by designers as part of their working processes. 

With programs being developed such as Adobe Firefly and Dall-E, it’s important to stay up to date on the changes happening in the world of AI, especially as it’s developing quite rapidly! We’re looking forward to seeing how new platforms will be developed and how that may change the design and packaging processes. 

4. UV Inks and Fluorescent Foils

When we first saw UV foils used on a label we were blown away, we’ve had the pleasure of witnessing this new innovation in use over in our proofing house Proof Plus, and we wish we could show you how it looks – but for now you’re just going to have to take our word for it.

On first glance, the use of UV ink/foil doesn’t appear to make much of a difference, with It looking just like an ordinary label, but whip out a UV lamp and the label is transformed into something completely different!

We’ve been lucky enough to be involved in two projects using this great new concept and, although we can’t tell you all about it just yet (watch this space though!) be assured that this packaging innovation will transform the BWS space, it’s going to be lighting up the back of bar in a club or bar near you soon! 

This technology is still relatively new but it is incredible. 

5. Innovative New Materials and Initiatives

As the climate crisis intensifies, there is a growing focus on the impact that our choices can have, especially in the packaging and design industry. 

This has led to a rise in alternative materials and the development of new choices. 

While these new material innovations are not for everyone and will not be suitable for every project, it’s good to keep an eye on upcoming launches and developments which you may be able to utilise in the future. 

Back in February, we highlighted our work with UPM Raflatac on the Ocean Action launch (you can read more about it here). This material is a great alternative for companies wanting to use planet-friendly materials, and is among new innovations in the market such as Sway seaweed-based packaging, which recently won the TOM FORD Plastic Innovation prize! 

The pros and nature of these materials can be played upon in the design of packaging and new products, whether you include some witty, related copy or a colour scheme fitting of the material, you can lean into the credentials with your design choices. 

And there you have it, a roundup of the 5 newest innovations that we think will soon be taking the packaging and design industry to new heights!  

Have we piqued your interest in these new packaging and design innovations? Or do you have a new idea for a project that you’d like to try out? Enquire with us today and get the ball rolling – we love this stuff!