It doesn’t take a lot for us to scream for ice cream, but eye-catching ice cream packaging definitely helps. If you’re planning to launch a mouth-watering product that’ll freeze out the competition, we’ve got you covered for packaging inspiration.
Whether it’s vegan or eco-friendly options you’re looking to pursue, ice cream packaging design now carries the all-important task of staying transparent to their customers without compromising on style.
But before delving into designing, though, it’s important to take a step back and think about all the important aspects to go into your next ice cream packaging. Whether you’re helping a client or you’re looking for inspiration for your next packaging, let’s break down all the elements, before looking at current ice cream packaging design trends that are seriously chill… sorry.
How to plan your packaging
Ice cream packaging materials
One of the first things you need to consider is the type of ice cream packaging you’re working with. Figuring out the canvas where your design will live requires you to get familiar with what kind of ice cream you’re selling—is it an ice cream sandwich, or a gelato? A single scoop ice cream in a tub or a knickerbocker glory?
These are the most common types of packaging for the different types of ice cream:
- Plastic or paper wrapping for individual ice lollies or ice cream sandwiches
- Cardboard or paper boxes for multi-packs
- Plastic tubs or glass jars for scoop ice cream
It’s also important to think about the durability of your chosen ice cream packaging. It must go through strict food safety and hygiene standards to ensure it can withstand very cold temperatures to keep the ice cream fresh. This means you have a limited type of materials to work with, and that can affect the way you design your ice cream packaging.
Plastic has long been the favorite for ice cream packaging. If you choose to go down this route then talk with suppliers about what the environmental impact would be of using their plastics. Are the materials they are using made out of recyclable materials, for instance? And how much energy, time and resources does it take to recycle those materials? Even if this isn’t a top priority for your brand, it’s important to be conscious of the environmental impact your brand is making, so you can be transparent with your audience.
Ice cream packaging must withstand long periods in freezers at near-zero temperatures. The last thing you want is to have smeared ink or bleeding colors because the wrapping doesn’t mix well with the wax coating of your ice cream tub.
So, ensure you’ve researched into the type of ink that will work on your packaging surfaces. For example, if you’re working with polypropylene, which is a popular option for ice cream tubs or containers, you’ll want to use epoxy inks.
Alternatively, you can use a decorative wrap on your ice cream packaging, but be aware that this will cost more than a simple print.
Above all, your ice cream packaging material has to do its number one job: protecting the ice cream inside and keeping its original quality and shape all the way to your customer’s hand.
Explore sustainable options
Another important consideration to make when choosing your ice cream packaging material is whether it’s made up of sustainable components. With advancing technology making it even easier to process and develop sustainable materials for packaging, these days it’s rare to find ice cream packaging that’s not eco-friendly. From repurposed plastic or glass jars to compostable paperboard, sourcing durable materials doesn’t have to be unkind to the environment.
Other than using bio-based materials, another way to ensure your ice cream packaging is sustainable is by adopting a zero-waste approach to your design process. Ice cream brand Sacred Serve uses food-grade, one-piece design in a compostable carton. This eliminates the need to produce lids that would undoubtedly create more waste.
Where we as a society collectively shift to becoming more environmentally conscious, eco-friendly ice cream packaging wins brownie points, even without the fancy branding and loud design styles.
Create brand consistency
Your packaging has got to be consistent with the product you’re selling. For example, if you’re designing for an ice cream brand that’s geared toward health-conscious customers, it doesn’t hurt to support that messaging with a clean, minimalist design highlighting natural, pared-back ingredients. Or if it’s ice lollies targeting children, create colorful, jovial wrapping designs that clearly communicate the ingredients for their discerning parents.
Whatever you do with the look and feel of your packaging, the number one rule is to make sure it represents your brand philosophy well, and its messaging is in line with what your ice cream is all about.
Form and function
Considering this particular element in your design journey is so worthwhile and can create the extra opportunity to let your design shine.
Take a walk in your customer’s shoes. Consider who usually buys your ice cream, and think about how—and where—they would eat it.
Are customers finding your product at the supermarket, for example? How about a cafe or a minimart? If it’s one of the latter options, it’s likely customers are going to be eating it on the go. In that case, ensure your ice cream packaging design includes a small spoon tucked smartly into the lid. Or if your customers buy their ice cream in larger quantities, then consider designing a functional carry box so they can easily take it with them without fear of spilling.
Even if your ice cream packaging doesn’t need these extra functionalities, knowing what your customers want can help inform you of that extra flourish that will make your design truly special.
If you’re designing for an artisan ice creamery, then think about how your customers see it. They may consider a tub of ice cream from there as a special treat, and something to cherish. So why not add a beautiful, eco-friendly paper to wrap the polystyrene container in for that special unboxing experience? It will help create better engagement with customers, and make your brand more memorable for them.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some stunning ice cream packaging aesthetics!
Tasteful trends in ice cream packaging design
Text-driven design is everywhere at the minute, so it’s no surprise that it’s currently at the forefront of ice cream packaging too.
Foregoing images and patterns, these designs allow the written words to take center stage.
There’s one particular style that’s emerging to be the leading favorite, and that’s the rounded lettering styles. With healthier, more sustainable food choices becoming the norm, the softer and curvier lettering styles emphasize this message of kindness, foregoing angular lines and sharp edges that were introduced with the recent renaissance of the 80s and 90s retro style.
Smooth edges and fluid font styles are not only great to convey a positive message in lifestyle choices, but they’re also ways to build trust with customers because they’re considered friendlier and more open, which in turn promotes trust among their customers.
Now by Naturals ice cream packaging design cleverly uses this curvy font style to represent how their ice cream is made: its designer takes inspiration from the swirling motion of mixing milk and cream during the production.
The result? A gorgeously bouncy and fluid lettering that conjures up the image of a deliciously creamy and rich ice cream—yum.
Add the perfect flourish to an otherwise simple ice cream packaging with a whimsical flair. With its charismatic colors and imaginative motifs, it’s sure to be a hit among audiences of all ages.
These designs feature colorful characters, cartoon monster faces and video game-inspired illustrations to keep it playful and fun. Abstract illustrations help make the whimsical design style work here, as they allow you to get creative with the message and leave a lot to the customers’ imagination.
Bright colors and juvenile character expressions convey a sense of fun-loving mischief. The designs might look like they’re geared towards kids, but adults will surely appreciate the whimsical flourish for bringing them back to the joyful, simpler times of their childhood.
These days, our tendency to prefer healthier options that are vegan or made with real fruit makes us think back to the good old days when they were made naturally and using only pure ingredients. This yearning translates into retro-style ice cream packaging designs that pay homage to the authentic ’50s style ice creamery.
Think heavy use of pastel-hued stripes, old-school cursive lettering and rubber hose character design that call back to those days when you could pronounce every single thing that goes into your favorite ice cream.
The packaging itself may be veering more towards the conventional route too, so as to keep it in line with the old-fashioned ice creamery of yesteryear. Think a classic freezer-friendly tub or carton box that looks good and stores easily in your household freezer.
Not only do they serve as the perfect neutral canvas for your design—as opposed to irregular-shaped containers such as cones or wrapping plastic—but they’re easier designs to be produced sustainably. For example, the box ice cream packaging promotes waste reduction as a one-piece container, or the tub can use food-grade materials that are biodegradable.
Clear and transparent
With a whopping 94% of customers likely to show brand loyalty if a company is transparent about their business, it’s little wonder why companies opt for the open and honest route when it comes to showcasing their products and processes.
And ice cream brands are no exceptions. They utilize eco-friendly packaging methods to be more transparent with customers so they can get a sneak peek of what they’re buying and keep brands accountable. While suggestive imagery can be a great way to give customers a hint of what your brand is all about sometimes showing customers exactly how your ice cream looks is simply better.
These ice cream packaging designs either use clear plastic wrap, strategically-placed transparent panels or house their treats in clear glass jars, finished off with eye-catching illustrations to keep it fun or simple logo placement for a clean look.
Organic color blocking
As we gravitate towards the kinder side of things—whether it’d be eating more natural foods or using eco-friendly products—our focus gradually shifts to the softer reincarnation of color-blocking. While this much-loved design trend has been around for a while, these days we’re seeing a gentler approach to it with flowing lines and gradient colors as opposed to boxy shapes and sharp edges.
The organic color blocking style is perfect for most materials used in ice cream packaging, from wrapping to tubs. It’s a style that appeals to most customers, though it might be more attractive to those who like natural ingredients in their food and a sustainable production ethos.
Flowing lines, complementary color combinations and uniquely shaped patterns dominate these ice cream packaging designs, for that extra organic touch.
Elevate your next ice cream packaging design by using repetitive patterns. Other than being a great way to add interest to packaging, it can also act as subliminal messaging to drill your brand and product into the customers’ minds.
With ice cream—which usually conjures up happy and joyful memories in most people—the associated illustrations lean into this buoyant mood to encourage people to buy. For those who want to marry drama and playfulness into one design, this style is it.
Take a key feature of the ice cream, whether that be the flavor, a star ingredient or the brand logo, and repeat it across the packaging. Use alternate colorways and motifs to signal the different flavors your range offers and attract any sweet-toothed passerbyers.
For the icing on top…
Designing ice cream packaging doesn’t need to be a complicated process. By focusing on what your customers like, adopting sustainable practices where possible where possible and allowing the brand to be transparent with customers, then you’ve already got the building blocks of a winning ice cream packaging.