Custom package design

Custom Package Design Will Be A Major 2017 Trend

It's been a few year since the phrase "The customer is always right" was first uttered. While sentiments and exact interpretation of that phrase have changed over time, the reality of the consumer-driven market has not.  Businesses with products to sell need to sell to their audience wherever that audience *is*...and that is getting harder to define. The journey from prospect to customer has grown beyond advertising or marketing, and is now called the "customer experience." It encompasses everything from how prospects first learn about products to their interactions with sales staff/websites through their first *unboxing* (with custom package design). And, fingers crossed, turning them into repeat customers. 

The custom package design feature is something of a revolution in these past years. Consumers are expecting packaging that complements the product. A plain, cardboard box won't impress someone who just spent over $2000 on a computer (just ask Apple). It's not that the thrill of receiving packages has decreased; rather, it's that expectations have increased. 

Why Custom Package Design?

In Richard Shapiro's list of 2017 customer experience trends, he notes how fundamental packaging has become to the customer experience.  It can be a a differentiator in terms of extending the customer experience. Custom package design has been a major success for luxury brands, particularly make up brands like Urban Decay for example. Their unique packaging and magnetic box closure, along with perfectly-formed custom insert trays, turn a routine eye shadow application into an event every time. 

Custom package design

As Shapiro notes, it's another opportunity for a company to reinforce their brand and the values they uphold. Customer experience is about more than just the product; when today's purchasers select an item, it's rarely as an afterthought. The amount of information at our fingertips--even in our pockets via smartphones--is staggering. If one item doesn't have what we want, or if the company doesn't respond fast enough to a tweeted question, then we move on to another brand. Shapiro uses the example of opening an Apple box and finding it full of packing peanuts versus their perfectly-molded packaging. It certainly doesn't fit their aesthetic, does it?

Other 2017 Customer Experience Trends

It doesn't end with custom package design. In addition, supporting a positive customer experience can mean controlled touch points at every stage of the journey. When an item is ordered from Amazon, users can track its movement from warehouse to their doorstep. When we request an Uber, we can see the vehicle coming toward us in real time. It's one part instant gratification, and another part setting expectations.

Shapiro also notes that millennials prefer experiences over *things* (and they're willing to pay for it). This feeds into the desire to receive boxes worth opening, worth sharing with the world upon receipt. And this does more than generate content for social channel feeds; it can work toward your benefit as a business as well. 

While we name-dropped a few notable brands in this piece, it's important to find your own style and voice in the custom packaging design space. Inspiration is one thing, but copying is another, and definitely not accepted as authentic by consumers. Invest in your packaging, and make sure that you're addressing potential customers throughout the customer experience journey as a whole through 2017.

Check out this influencer kit for Whole Foods Form Digital Kitchen

Increase Your Reach With An Influencer Kit

Nobody likes labels, and that goes for your customers as well. However, the concept of influencer marketing is growing, and with it, so does the interest in putting together an influencer kit. "Influencer" is a hot term, and everyone wants to do it, but they don't really know how. So what do we mean when we throw this term around?

As GroupHigh's Kristen Matthews so succinctly puts it, it can't be defined. Not easily, anyways. It's something unique to every brand and the specific campaign, meaning that most organizations won't be able to put together a list of influencers and draw on those same people for every campaign going forward--

You can’t force someone to lie down in an influencer mold and there they will stay for every campaign for every brand.

--plus things like Twitter followers or Klout scores don't give the full picture of someone's ability to influence. Here are some things to look for (and things to steer clear of) when searching out influencers. 

Look for quality over quantity. Numbers might be starting point when it comes to finding influencers. But all they really tell us is if someone is popular.  For your campaign to be successful, the followers of this person need to trust them and be willing to act on recommendations. 

Credibility. Hopefully this goes without saying, but select influencers who reflect your brand and are the right audience for your product. Let's say your influencer kit is centered around eyelash growing serum, for example. 

An influencer kit should have brand advocates post about your company on social networks, like Instagram.

Would you send it to someone who's known for their content relating to video games? Probably not. Send it to someone who has a high level of engagement with beauty and makeup aficionados. 

Magnetic box as influencer kit

Authentic in their recommendations. Kim Kardashian might tag a drugstore brand of concealer in an Instagram post and call it an #ad, but do we  really believe that she's trucking down to Walgreens for makeup? Not quite.  

Utilize influencers who are believably using your product, and making authentic recommendations.

Choose The Right Presentation

When it comes to enticing influencers, don't forget to select a box style that works for their brand and needs. Magnetic boxes, or mag boxes, create a great experience for recipients as they bridge the gap between functional and luxury. The box used above creates a virtual stage for the contents your influencer kit. Magnetic boxes also add a layer of security as well as innovation to any project. 

You wouldn't compromise other aspects of your brand, would you? Don't skimp on the presentation packaging aspect, either. 

Influencer Kit To-Do List

We originally put these tips in a post on influencer marketing / advocacy marketing, and creating influencer kits, on Sunpack:

  1. Research to find influencers within your market segment 
  2. Contact potential influencers to gauge their interest, any fees, etc.
  3. Send influencer kits to your carefully-selected list
  4. Continue to cultivate the relationship and monitor ROI

Don't forget to pique their interest by engaging their skill sets.  Whole Foods engaged Digital Kitchen to design an unconventional influencer kit: a kind of build-your-own Mr. Potatohead alien-esque being with an artichoke or pineapple for a head. The literal "Earthling ambassador" resulted in hits exceeding 18,000 to a microsite. Getting creative is a great way to engage influencers.  

Rinse and repeat for every campaign in which you want to utilize influencers. Reach out today for more tips on creating an influencer kit!

Campbell's marketing kit

Marketing Kits for Small Businesses

Being a small business is often compared to being the small dog in the fight. The advantage are usually assumed to be with the bigger dogs (or the bigger businesses). But every so often, a small one turns out to be a little scrappier and a little more of a fighter.  The holidays will soon be behind us, and business might slow down all-around. In this post-spending season, it pays for small businesses to take stock of the previous year in planning for the future. This includes your marketing endeavors. Particularly in ramping up your marketing kits (or putting one together, if it's not around). 

Marketing Kits Help Small Businesses Compete With Big Businesses

On one hand, it's never been easier for small businesses to make an impact on the market. Basic marketing channels, particularly social media, are free (to a point) and give businesses both a platform and a voice. They can identify influencers and communicate with them like never before. If the product is good enough, fans will create the hype. 

Marketing kits help small businesses succeed

But hooking those influencers is the key to making waves in the industry, and especially when it comes to building advocates and buzz. The word *viral* is tossed around a lot, but viral is a synonym for flash-in-the-pan. Small businesses want longevity and repeat customers. This is where marketing kits come in.  Design an experience that people won't forget--and one that they'll share for others to seek out.  What products are popular? What will entice people to return? 

At Sunrise Packaging, based in Minnesota, we help people design the packaging for their marketing kits. Your products provide the value; we provide secure inserts, coordinates box style and materials that fit your price point:

  • Custom inserts are used to keep products secured in place through transit. Options can range from pockets for instructions or papers to thick foam.
  • Box styles can be more varied than you might originally think.  Depending on the effect you want to have, we can make recommendations. 

Inserts and boxes come in different materials, all of which affects price point. But don't forget to consider further box customization. Printing styles, lamination, foil stamping, and other options add that final special touch to marketing kits. 

Other Marketing Tips For the New Year

Marketing kits are just one area in which small businesses can focus their New Year endeavors. It's also a good time to revisit other areas that might have fallen off the radar in the holiday bustle. Set aside time to take stock of your website and other e-commerce channels, and determine which advertising paid off (and what didn't).  This time after the holidays is also a high return time. While no business wants to see their products come back, view it as an opportunity. Small businesses can find out what consumers didn't like, or what expectations weren't met, and take it into consideration in the future. You can even take the time to create a value add-on, where returns can sample other products that do meet their needs. 

These kinds of activities are unique to small businesses, and part of what's driving the small business movement. Customers want a personalized experience, and that extends to marketing kits. Share the best parts of your business with the world, and show that it's about the fight in the dog, not the size of the dog. 

Custom setup boxes from drescherpuzzle

Custom Setup Boxes For Holiday Treats

One of my favorite holiday traditions includes baking cookies with my family. It's hardly a unique tradition, but the best part is the end: we package them up and send them out to friends and family. Over time, it's expanded beyond just cookies to include leveled-up confections like caramel, chocolates, macaroons, biscotti, and others. We mix up the presentation packaging. For the classic cookies, we use tins and fill in the cracks with yogurt-covered nuts. For the more delicate creations, we started using custom setup boxes

Custom setup boxes are great for holiday candies because, with custom inserts, they're sure to stay in place and arrive intact. It's not for nothing that most smartphone and tablet makers also utilize this format for shipping products--custom inserts in setup boxes provide security--but they also allow for a degree of showiness. These types of boxes consist of two trays, with the top fitting snugly over the bottom (hinged is a possibility, too--like a bakery box, or the example below). 

Candy & Custom Setup Boxes

Our custom boxes come with embossed lids, designed by my sister. We usually don't send these through the mail, saving them for in-person gifting, and customizing the box to the person. We live in a time where diet sensitivities abound. Nut allergies, gluten sensitivities, varying levels of vegetarianism, and more make it challenging to put something together that delights every palate. But that's where the ease of customized presentation packaging--and baking--come into play. Use the setup box itself to create a road map of sorts. Think of the inside of a chocolate box lid, how it describes each slot. That's one way to not only help out recipients, but add to their joy in receiving something 100% customized.

Custom Setup boxes from Taylor Box Company

Purchasing custom setup boxes can be cost-effective. Large quantities can be re-purposed for other gifts. We store ours and use them over the years. It's become part of the process; our normal gift list knows what to expect, and look forward to the familiar package. The differentiation pieces come into play in how we accessorize that year. There's always some kind of custom finishing trending. One year it was burlap ribbon, another time it was bakers' twine. Just another way to signify the passing of time, and appreciation for those with whom we celebrated so many years. 

Presentation Packaging for the Holidays

With holiday baking, we let the product do most of the talking. But, if we're being honest, it's clear that the excitement starts with the custom setup boxes, embossed and embellished. Designed by my sister, and filled with the product of our combined efforts, there's an indefinably warm little bit of love that goes into every container. It's often said that giving is more gratifying than receiving, and it's never more true than when I get to hand-deliver a tin or custom box of homemade treats. 

Unique vinyl packaging

Vinyl Packaging Surpasses Digital

Okay, we know that it's not the vinyl packaging that's surpassing digital downloads in some music markets. But it might play some part in the disruption happening in the music market, specifically in the United Kingdom. 

Britain's Entertainment Retail Association released numbers earlier this week showing that records are selling at higher rates than digital downloads. It's the first time this has happened in history. In a world where technology advances quickly, and the music industry has struggled to adapt to various changes, it's interesting to see an album format invented over 50 years ago outselling other models in 2016. Vinyl has been on pace to increase dramatically, particularly in recent years, across Europe and the United States.  In the United States, vinyl has been increasing by around 10% per year. Today, it's roughly 6% of the album industry, or just over $2.5 million. Streaming, in comparison, accounts for more than a billion. So chances are we won't be seeing any similar toppling in the United States soon. 

But what is drawing people to vinyl in this day and age?


Vinyl Packaging and Tech Disruption

As retailers make more space on shelves for vinyl, and events like Record Store Day gain popularity, it's impossible to escape the magnitude of vinyl. The popularity of vinyl has occurred with the rise of other pieces of retro technology, like Polaroid cameras and different elements in fashion.  The digital age as transformed nearly every industry in existence, from travel to film to, of course, music.  

This return to an earlier age of technology is tied in part to nostalgia. Even though vinyl's most avid proponents might not have been alive in the golden age of records, they're certainly making up for it with enthusiasm now. Everything old is new again. The sound of that record needle, and the hisses and other flaws embedded into the fragile plastic of a record, speak to newer generations who aren't interested in the gloss and sheen applied by the industry. It's seen as fake, or over-produced. Flaws equal authenticity.

Vinyl packaging and cyclical technology (from Vulture

Vinyl packaging enters the equation here. People like holding something tangible in a digital world.  Record stores are social (as any fan of 'High Fidelity' can tell you)  and get people to interact with each other, and without the barrier presented by a smartphone or tablet.  Artists use vinyl packaging to communicate with their fans. The Beatles were masters of this; their album covers are iconic (everyone know the smorgasbord of celebrities on the Sergeant Pepper album, or the Fab Four crossing Abbey Road). It's another platform that sets the tone for an album. A picture is worth a thousand more; music is countless more. 

Packaging for the Ages

Vinyl is one example of how iconic packaging can become in the right sense. As record sales grow (including toppling digital in the UK), the reasons behind its increase become stronger as well. People are searching for something tangible and memorable. Is your packaging meeting that need?

Unwrapped gift box

Let Your Gift Box Shine

Ah, the holiday season. It’s a time of cheer and merriment, generosity and–in this part of the country–snow. It’s also a time to spend a lot of money. Not the least of which tends to be on gifts, plus the gift box, and then the gift wrapping and trimmings.

However, a new, frugal trend is becoming more popular. More and more people are choosing NOT to wrap gifts (or to wrap in clear packaging/reusable materials).  The movement has its foundation in a few ideas:

  • Cut down on waste
    The average American family tosses out upwards of 25% more trash around the holiday season, which equals an extra 25 million tons in the month of December.  This encompasses more than just wrapping paper and ribbon. Holiday cards–over 2 billion sent every year–could fill a football field 10 stories high.
  • Spend time with people, not on presents
    Yes, part of the fun at the holidays is watching the surprise and reaction from others as they open a gift, but the tradition takes time and draws the focus to the more commercial side of the season. Not wrapping at all (or using clear materials) takes away the surprise, but also relieves the need to react or spend time specifically on gifts.
  • Save money
    Wrapping paper, ribbons, tape, gift bags, they all have a cost associated with them.  And they add up. Wouldn’t gift recipients prefer the money to put toward their gift–or left in your pocket?

The Gift Box SolutionA blessing gift box is a great way to give back

As the movement to stop wrapping gifts gains momentum, the importance of the gift box increases as well.  Personally, I love giving gifts, and taking the time to wrap them to make them look attractive for the person receiving it. I understand the logic in not wrapping…but it still feels like it needs a little sparkle. Gifts still need homes, and a custom gift box that can be reused or recycled is the way to go.  Gift givers can still maintain an element of surprise, and recipients still have the joy of something to open.

In addition to a gift box, gift givers who are looking to get away from wrapping paper can also consider:

  • Gift things that don’t require wrapping
    No wrapping or packaging necessary (except maybe a pesky holiday card…!) for subscriptions, gift certificates/cards, memberships, tickets, etc.
  • Using material to wrap
    Make the wrapping part of the present, and use a blanket, scarf, or some sort of material to wrap the present.
  • Send an e-gift
    For the truly environmentally-conscious, send them an email or a message through an electronic medium letting them know that a donation has been made in their name, or a tree has been planted, something along those lines. If the recipient is a fan of a business which allows mobile purchases, like Starbucks, send an e-gift card.

Regardless of the route you choose to take this holiday season, there are different ways to help you save money on wrappings while not skimping on aesthetic. And from our vantage point, this is where a custom gift box can meet both needs!

Custom training binders/boxes

Custom Training Binders Aid Employee Retention

Starting a new job is a nerve-racking process. Meeting new coworkers, learning office etiquette, not to mention learning a new job. Even if it’s something you’ve done before, there are still subtlties and nuances to learn about how things are done *here*, right? This is what makes the training and onboarding process for new employees so important to retention at an organization. If a company has a culture of revolving door employees, the loss in revenue is massive. Dedicating time to creating a program that helps new employees know how to do their jobs well takes a little bit of that newbie stress away. Custom training binders are a great resource to develop.

Supplying new employees with the resources they need to succeed is just one way to instill confidence.  Handing them a resource to which they can return is like giving them a trusted, personal adviser who won’t pass judgement on them, no matter how many times they need to ask how to complete an action.  Based on recommendations from the HR Council, here are some tips on building custom training binders.

custom training binder

What should custom training binders contain?

1. The goals of the employee training or development program

It sounds intuitive, doesn’t it? But for many training and development programs, the end goal isn’t very clear. It might not be stated, or written in fuzzy language. Clearly stating the objectives of the training helps the new employee understand exactly what is expected of them. It sets benchmarks and helps supervisors understand how to gauge success and areas of improvement.

2. Allow employees to be involved in determining the knowledge, skills and abilities to be learned

Allowing for a degree of flexibility allows a new hire to become even more invested in their training process. They can leverage the skills that got them the job. For example, if someone has a background working with a specific program, maybe they can assist in the training instead of moving through it. It helps them feel valued and less like a cog.

3. Create activities during the learning process

There’s not much worse than starting a new job and spending the first week or two in a high school-esque reading round robin. Build some activities into your custom training binders to allow them to practice in the environment or a simulated environment. When designing your training binders, consider if these activities should be used as references in the future. If not, allow for them to be removed and reduce clutter.

4. The employees are given an opportunity to reinforce what they learn by practicing

By utilizing a practical and problem-centered approach based on real examples, employees will have a better idea of the organization’s expectations.  This can be done through the activities included in the binders, but pull lessons out through discussions, question and answer sessions, and other types of informal information sharing.

5. Design for longevity

If you’re making an investment in your employees, make an investment in their training materials, too. Utilizing chipboard ensures that the documents inside are safe and secure. It also ensures that the binder itself can withstand a some roughing up as well. Chipboard is a great material that allows for plenty of custom finishing options, so your brand and and design elements won’t fade over time. Ask our representatives about Euro-scoring and the sharp, one-piece styles for even more customization.

Binders can hold more than paper!

What else might be helpful for your employees? Chances are we can work out some kind of custom insert to add value to your employees as well. Chat with Sunrise Packaging today to find out more.

unique sales kits

Unique Sales Kits Lead to More Sales

What sort of investment should an organization make in their sales kits? Should they be a folder, stuffed to the brim with brochures and random paper? Or should more unique sales kits be the goal?

Let's take a look at the question from the customer's viewpoint. 

A customer is exposed to two sales kits. The first, from Company A, is a double-pocketed folder. Kind of like the ones used in elementary school, but slightly better quality. However, the inside is a mass of papers, pamphlets, with a sales card stuck in. The customer has to be careful not to tilt the folder the wrong way, or they'll lose whatever semblance of order was in the folder. 

Striving for a more unique sales kit, Company B delivers a custom box, designed in a way that reflects their business ethics and aesthetics. Upon opening, the contents are held firmly in place, and there's a narrative and an intuitive way to peruse them. And, the most effective part? A secure, obvious space specifically for the card of the contact of the sales kits' proprietor. 

Which would you prefer to receive?

Goals of Unique Sales Kits

Take time to organize, write and design distilled messages and clear calls to action. Use these principles of well-designed sales kits to guide the process:

  • Convey distinct personality and value
  • Support sales team and their process
  • Contains the information the target audience--the customer--cares about

A unique sales kit can convey desired brand perception. It will create more opportunities and close more sales.

unique sales kits

Customers want to feel that they are unique. Regardless of how large the organization with which they are dealing is, or how many sales people they go through, they expect to be treated well and that their business is valued. One of the best ways to kick off this kind of relationship is with the first impression. The impression can be made with a handshake, remembering a name, and by creating something memorable. Ideally, to make truly unique sales kits, materials could be switched out to personalize them to the customer. The point is to give it a little extra sparkle, some oomph, something to remember. 

And what is better suited to create this impression: a simple folder, or a custom box?

Custom box handle

Times You Could Have Used a Custom Box Handle

A custom box handle doesn't always seem like a necessity in the world of packaging. The focus tends to be on how to achieve a certain effect--usually more with less--and that usually doesn't include a handle. To some, a handle doesn't say luxury, but here's the thing: users love box handles. And they don't have to detract from your aesthetic. In fact, they can add to it.

Before you put the kabosh on considering a custom box handle, ask yourself the following questions about your customers: 

Will a custom box handle help them out?

Customers LOVE custom box handles--particularly for bulkier or heavier packages--and it's an immediate selling point. From a retailer standpoint, there's one big box that comes to mind that capitalizes on this. Target knows that customers appreciate a handle (any time you purchase toilet paper or paper towels, the branded strip encircling the product is a lifesaver, right?).  It also saves on bags. Here's an extra bonus: if it has a handle, then it doesn't need to go into a bag, meaning that your logo is being broadcast to the world as they shop or move through life. 

Custom box handle
Custom box handle

Will this box need to travel?

Is this box meant for sales? Medical devices? Demonstrations? A custom box handle is a must for any box that has to travel.  Working in sales, a handle can mimic the classic briefcase style. Medical devices are increasingly mobile in our globalized world. There are a host of reasons why a box could need to travel, and we've seen a lot of then. In addition to designing something durable and attractive, Sunrise Packaging can help figure out what type of 1) closure and 2) handle will be the best fit for what this box needs to accomplish.

What do other products in the market look like?

The pièce de résistance: if your product is the only offering a custom box handle, you can bet that it's enticing enough for hands to grasp onto (literally and figuratively). Handles can come in different sizes, shapes, and materials, and there's definitely an option that complements your vision. To grab the eyes (and hands) of customers, create a unique, standout experience for them. Apple uses handles to great effect when packaging their iMacs and Macbooks; paired with the large images of the products inside, it's like customers are carrying windows as they walk from the Apple Store (an experience in itself). What type of image do you want to share with the world?

Custom box handle


Ready to talk with a representative about what type of handle will give your product shelf presence and simplify life for your customers? 

Custom Inserts Protect Your Product

To put it simply, custom inserts are important. 

Let's take a look at the human body. Our innards are like precious cargo, aren't they? Heart, brain, kidneys, all of these parts contribute to making us who we are. And the amazing part of our body is that it built in all sorts of padding and materials that are resilient and incredibly strong to protect these mechanisms that, in essence, make us work. Not to mention that these structures also keep our organs in place, and us standing, so we're not just puddles sloshing around. There might be internal breakdowns, but 99.9% of the time, our *custom inserts* do their job.

Custom inserts do similar work within boxes. Think of the last time you opened up a box holding a smartphone or a tablet. If the manufacturer had a modicum of design sense, the unboxing presented the product in a dramatic fashion. Most importantly, it was whole and undamaged, right?  And we've all seen those videos of delivery men tossing packages around. Chances are this package experienced a bit of indelicate handling as well. But the product is unscathed. That's how we know inserts are doing their job. 

Common Materials for Custom Inserts

Sunrise Packaging has a wide variety of materials that we use for custom inserts. Based on your product, our sales and design teams can make recommendations that fit your budget and the expectations of the product itself.  Based on what you want to provide to customers--instruction booklets, accessories, etc--some materials might be more useful than others. 

Custom inserts protect your product
  • Custom Die Cut Foam

    Foam is a popular choice for many types of products, particularly medical device packaging. It's flexible and provides a large degree of protection for products. It's also very light, so if mobility is a consideration, consider foam. 

  • SBS Paperboard Insert

    Paperboard is thin and sturdy, and provides protection in a tray or as a kind of stand-up divider most frequently.  It's ideal for manuals or to divide cavities. 

  • Corrugated Insert

    When cost or eco-friendliness is a factor, corrugated inserts can meet that need as well as be an affordable option. Recycled and recyclable, corrugated cardboard keeps packaging prices low. 

  • Chipboard Insert

    Like the eco-friendliness of corrugated insert but want something will a little more luxe to it? Chipboard inserts are denser and heavier, perfect when you need rigidity.

  • Thermoformed Trays

    When you're aiming for perfect custom inserts, thermoformed plastic trays are the gold standard. From boxes of chocolates to eye shadow palettes to iPhones, thermoformed trays are snug and friction-free within a custom case. 

Custom Inserts FTW

From a financial perspective, custom inserts might seem like an added expense on top of packaging costs. We understand that, but consider the cost of an unhappy consumer due to something that could be easily avoided with a little organization. Such as that provided by a custom insert. Or maybe think about how you would feel if your internal organs were left to slosh around without any structure. The scenario speaks for itself, right?

Contact a sales rep today to give structure to your custom boxes - your products will thank you!