Prince is Dead, Long Live Prince

On April 21, 2016, Minnesota lost one of its most famous citizens. Prince Rogers Nelson – known simply as Prince for the majority of his multi-decade career – died in his Paisley Park home in Chanhassen. His death came days after hosting a dance party and reassuring fans that they should “save their prayers.”

One of the world’s most prolific songwriters, Prince was known for the level of customization he brought to his craft. An innovator in every sense of the word as well as a perfectionist, he played nearly every instrument on his early releases on top of providing vocals. Prince’s sense of style and presentation extended past his flamboyant stage presence. He carefully controlled his image and oversaw the merchandise which bore his image. Additionally, he was proud of his Minnesota roots, and sought out local businesses to patronize. Sunrise created this custom box for him.

Prince rigid two piece box

Custom Promotional Packaging

This custom promotional box was created for Prince to house the live album box set “One Nite Alone…Live!” released in 2002 (but containing works dating twenty years or more) with The New Power Generation.  Inside is a thermoformed tray, with dimensions designed to fit the three discs. Not only is it a great example of presentation packaging, but the attention to detail is evident from the piano key-influenced box sides and thumb holes to aid the user in opening the package. We’ve all experienced opening a two piece rigid box where the lid is a little too snug, right? This allows users to open the box without potentially harming the discs.

The particular mission of this album was to showcase real music by real musicians. It was highly lauded for the three discs seemingly spanning a single show (it actually doesn’t, it’s just edited to sound that way). The album is a perfect encapsulation of not only some of his biggest hits, but also the passion, intensity, and energy that defined his career. Custom boxes with lids like this have the power to reflect those qualities. While the design or image on the lid is pure Prince – literally – the enhancements, like ensuring that the cover slides off smoothly, are the types of details that enhance the overall experience of the album.

2 piece setup box for Prince

End of the Purple Prince Era

From shopping at Minneapolis’s Electric Fetus record store to contracting with us, Minnesota box manufacturer, to produce packaging for the “One Nite Alone…Live!” album, Prince was, at heart, a local boy who did well. They say that the experience of seeing a great musician live can’t be replicated in album form. With Prince’s death, his legacy is carried on through his music, and his attention to detail in the packaging.


Creativity Alert! Boxes Make Your Comics Even Geekier!

Check out this awesome custom box from Boxes in Action. Cleverly designed to invoke the iconic 80s version of the Transformers’ leader Optimus Prime, this narrow, corrugated box is meant to store comic books. If you’ve ever been to a comic book shop, you’ve seen the tell-tale white boxes that have become the industry standard for storing back issues of serial comics. They are also, ahem, prime storage for personal collectors as well. Cheap, breathable, and standardized. But Boxes in Action is mixing it up a bit.

_20160323_160143_original_20160323_153933_original Obviously, I fixated on the Transformers box, but the online shop offers a handful of geek-oriented comic boxes, ranging from Batman to the Incredible Hulk. Definitely well-tailored to their target audience, these boxes are both display-worthy and functional. Of course, at $45 a pop, you might not be racking up an Optimus armada all that quickly. Still the charm factor is there in spades. And if the pricing becomes a little more economical, stores and hardcore collectors alike might be changing their tune. Imagine walking into your friendly local comic shop and seeing themed boxes for each title! Need the latest issue of Wolverine? Just look for the claws!

Just more evidence to support the power of custom box printing. A little creativity goes a long way. Never underestimate the drive of a fan to show off their favorite franchise. In fact, my graphic novel collection is nothing to write home about, but I suddenly feel the need to upgrade my storage!

Images: Boxes in Action

Vaportrail Retail Packaging

Product Packaging Boxes: What You Should Know

Packaging is not simply about storage, or giving something a shell. In fact, it’s marketing. So when you’re considering product packaging boxes for retail or promotional use, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

First Thing’s First

You need to consider the purpose of your box. There’s a market in Italy that has done away with packaging. You can buy pasta in bulk from buckets that are labeled by nothing more than laminated notecard. This might work for a quaint farmer’s market-style grocery business, but it doesn’t work for the retail arena. Not every product is self-explanatory. And pasta is not even self-explanatory! What if you needed to know a specific ingredient for an allergy? Even if the ingredients are listed, do you want to go around to every individual bucket and read the fine print? The average shopper is in the same boat.

The Eye Knows What it Wants

vibrant_product_packaging_boxes_akalooThey may or may not be looking for something specific. But, in either case, they’ll know it when they see it. And, as much as we may hate to admit it, we the people need product packaging. We are a visual species. Color drives where our eye looks. In the same way, packaging reels in consumers. Once there, they know exactly where to look. Which brings us to the next point: there is a kind of standard when it comes to product packaging boxes.

Packaging Standards

Granted there’s room for creativity in packaging (innovation is always a big crowd-pleaser) but think about when something you pick up in the store. Where’s the first place you look for more info? You flip the box over, don’t you? It’s almost automatic, right? How about those bullet points along the sides? Or nutrition facts, to bring it back to the pasta.

What this means is that even though every box is its own construct, there’s a certain agreement that packaging delivers on. Placing of particular information, location, and even the graphic design to some extent. And if these elements aren’t accessible? It may be a turn-off to your buyers, even on a subconscious level. In fact, studies are going on right now about the effects of “too clever” advertising.

This is just the first layer of what goes into creating exceptional product packaging boxes. If there’s one takeaway from this first lesson, is to treat custom packaging like marketing. Too many people think of it as the “fun part” or the “easy part” and let it sit on the back burner. But there is a science to it.


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Custom Turned Edge Box

Is Your Box Too Clever?

Choosing a look for you product packaging can be a lot of fun, but it can’t be all fun. Whether you realize it or not, designing a box for your product is advertising, if only at its most basic. Especially if you’re trying to stake a claim at brick and mortar stores.

Think of all the elements that need to fall in place. Color palette, product images, information blurbs, logos, contact info, warnings, taglines, instructions. Maybe you could dodge out of one or two, but for the most part, all these pieces have to come together to complete the puzzle. On top of all that, it needs to outmatch the competition.

Long and Short of it

clever sports packagingNow there’s a couple different ways to go about marketing in general. There’s the Long Con model, and there’s the Instant Gratification. One banks on a slow burn, building towards brand stamina. The other is more in your face, presenting everything with a bang to hook you fast. Usually these campaigns are more aligned with print ads or commercials, but the concept translates to packaging as well.

Think of your key customer. The target demographic for your product. Now picture them walking through a department store, eyeing everything along the way. Maybe they’re in a rush, or the wheels of the cart are extra oiled and they’re cruising right along. How long do you have to grab their attention?

Quick Study

A new theory might offer some insight. Researchers from a pair of universities in the Netherlands have been testing the efficacy of advertisements on a faster scale. While most marketing research uses test audiences watching commercials, the tests conducted by these marketers screened shorter glimpses, the longest of which was only 30 seconds. While this is meant to simulate online ads especially, the model fits for billboards, storefronts, and any other visual marketing that is meant to turn heads. That means packaging too.

Eye-tracking tests have confirmed the simpler ads were more effective right away. This isn’t surprising as our society draws ever nearer to quicker, more convenient stimuli. The conclusion of the authors based on these findings was that campaigns that are too clever might be detrimental to some products. That is to say, if you want somebody to buy your soda, just show them the soda. On the rocks, maybe an umbrella. Nothing extensive.

On the flip side, though, the researchers found the ads that took longer to roll out were received more positively by the viewer. A visual pun, a clever message, or an image that told a story was appreciated more than the basics. But, you have to remember, the test audience was forced to react to these advertisements for the sake of the experiment. In the wild, customers don’t owe your product the same attention. Most aisles are an ocular overload.

What Does it all Mean?

What does this mean for creating advertising boxes? Unfortunately, we still have to take it on a case-by-case basis. Obviously, the Long Con strategy still builds the most brand loyalty. But without the Instant Gratification, will your product stick? While there’s no magic catch-all answer, it is certainly food for thought when considering a product packaging design.

Where is your product going to be stocked?

Who or what is its main competition?

How much time do you have to reel in your prospective buyer?

In the end, the kind of campaign you want to run–the message you want your brand to send–all starts with the box.


Top Shelf Tequila Earns Luxury Liquor Packaging

Tequila! Now that I have your attention…

It’s not every day that I get to cover booze and packaging in the same blog. Separate blogs, obviously, but in the same? That’s rare!

Pump the brakes, it’s business hours.

Luxury liquor packaging is a rising trend.

Sure, you see specialty bottles (especially with tequila) but more well-established liquor companies often have an iconic bottle shape that is worth its weight in gold on the shelf. (In fact, we all know that sometimes the shape of the bottle is the only way to identify a particular liquor at the end of a particularly wild night out.) But for liquor stores, the packaging can be a make-or-break moment. Unlike at a bar, customers at a liquor store are looking for something new and improved, a drink they’ve never tried before. So iconic beverages might need to switch things up. Tequila titan Patrón certainly fits that bill. But their new luxury liquor packaging might have more to do with the price tag.

First, the box. A cabinet-style box crafted of real wood and hand-wrapped leather opens to reveal a bottle of Patrón En Lalique Serie 1, a drawer with a decorative stopper, and a booklet about the story of Patrón. The decor is inspired by the agave plant from which the tequila is derived, and the bottle is a custom design from the famous glassmaker Lalique.

The price for a bottle? Oh, just a cool $7500. Apparently the fancy cabinet and stopper is just the cherry on top.

But even if your product doesn’t fetch a small fortune, you can still benefit from luxury liquor packaging on a more reasonable scale. Hard cover boxes with rigid packaging, turned edges, wrap materials, and magnetic tabs are all little upgrades that can make packaging really pop at retail.

Source: Packaging News


Is Smartphone Packaging Going Virtual?

Packaging with a purpose. It’s what we’re all about. So when we see a custom box pulling double duty, well, we tend to get a little excited.

Check out this smartphone packaging for Alcatel’s OneTouch Idol 4S. Its durable, plastic box doubles as a Google Cardboard viewer.

What’s Google Cardboard?

As lo-fi as it sounds, it’s actually Google’s virtual reality program. Where other big companies are trying to create high-end VR hardware, Google Cardboard has taken a simpler, more economical approach. They hope to put virtual reality into everyone’s hands by providing basic cardboard viewing goggles that work with just about any smartphone to produce a virtually-rendered 360-degree immersive experience. From broad ambitions of creating virtual field trips for classrooms to simply making VR more accessible, Google hopes the simple viewing device will pair with what everybody’s already carrying in their pocket: a supercomputer that also makes phone calls.

So pairing a smartphone with the viewer seems like a smart first step–but using the smartphone packaging as the viewer is just plain genius. Not just for Google either.

Really Smartphone Packaging

Have you heard of Alcatel? Me neither. The phone itself is nothing to write home about. But it’s packaging alone has garnered it national attention from techies and packaging aficionados alike; once again proving that packaging is what sells a product.

The beauty behind a custom box is that it makes your product whatever you want it to be. Sure, when it gets home it transforms into a phone, a candle, a cheese grater, or whatever! But on the shelf, it’s someone’s art, someone’s idea, someone’s passion. There’s something magical about that moment between purchase and unboxing. Maybe it’s the anticipation of it all. That’s one of the reason’s so many boxes get saved. Or turn into the toy on Christmas morning. It’s the memory, the love at first sight, of seeing that box for the first time.

So why fight it? Embrace it, like Alcatel, and let your box do the selling.


Custom Costa Rica Box

What Really Makes Packaging Green?

More and more frequently we see demands for environmental packaging. Boxes that are recyclable and can be recycled. A push for plastic-free packaging. Why? Other than the cliche “it’s the right thing to do” is there a real reason that green packaging attracts consumers? And why does plastic get such a bad rap? Isn’t it recyclable too?

The Green Push

I started pondering this earlier today when I read an article about new plastic-free packaging. Ethique, a New Zealand based skincare company, has eschewed the staple material in its new soap packaging. The still-vibrant boxes appear to be made of paperboard, and the soap itself is wrapped in small sheets of paper. According to the article, Ethique wanted to put their money where their mouth was, so to speak. Plastic, while recyclable, isn’t going anywhere environmentally-speaking. Once it’s made, it stays. So the company decided to soften their carbon footprint, opting for biodegradable materials.

This definitely isn’t a new strategy. In a similar maneuver, toymaker LEGO started making their boxes smaller in 2013. Discovering the same amount of pieces could fit in smaller packaging, the popular brickmaker dialed back their wasted space, reducing their CO2 impact by nearly 10%.

Who’s Feeling the Heat?

Is it personal guilt by the manufacturers, or some kind of backlash from consumers that is fueling this drive to eco-friendly packaging?

Perhaps it’s neither. Green packaging, while a wonderful idea, is sort of a buzzword. Consumers and manufacturers want to feel like they are doing right by the environment–and if it generates a selling point, all the better. But in actuality, most packaging is “green” when it comes down to it. Corrugated, of course, is completely recyclable. Even chipboard, the material that creates rigid box walls in presentation packaging, is a dense, woodlike material formed from post-consumer material. Shiny aqueous coatings are water-based–there are even inks that are soy-based. Yeah, even your ink can be environmental!

The Third R

Don’t get me wrong: thinking of the environment while producing anything is a beautiful thing. For now, we only have this one planet. Nobody can afford to ignore environmental social norms like recycling and reducing their waste. But people forget that there is another side to reducing waste: creating packaging that lasts. That doesn’t need to be thrown out. That serves a purpose. Back in the day, nothing was created to be disposable. People made clothes out of potato sacks, for crying out loud! It’s only recently that this disposable mindset has developed. Upgrade your smartphone. Buy a new car. What happened to making something worth keeping? Making something functional? Making something you actually want to hold onto?

Maybe we need to steer away from making better garbage, and focus on creating better keepsakes. The one-and-done movement is getting stale. Let’s create quality again. Don’t forget: it’s recycle, reduce, REUSE.

Green Recycling Symbol


Branded Marijuana Packaging : A High-Rising Trend

The call for medical and recreational marijuana has grown considerably in the last couple decades and, along with it, the call branded marijuana packaging. According to an article from the Guardian, the cannabis industry has clocked in at a whopping $2.7 billion, an increase of 74% from last year. As with any growing industry, new vendors have come out of the woodwork. From celebrities with their own strains, to subscription services like Potbox, the industry has skyrocketed to the mainstream.

And while these vendors are surprisingly diverse, they all seem to come to the same conclusion: the proof is in the packaging.

New Markets. New Look.

The Guardian article draws attention to Potbox and how branded marijuana packaging was a key part of their strategy. Rebranding the entire marijuana scene, with all its stereotypes and preconceived notions, is no small order. But Potbox made a strong effort to create packaging that was less like the shady sandwich bag and more like upscale coffee. Similarly, Snoop Dogg’s line of cannabis hired one of the top graphic design firms in order to create packaging reminiscent of rich chocolate.

“We invested heavily in packaging, so consumers had a confidence when they saw the product it would be quality and have integrity – that was one of the early hallmarks of our brand,” Joe Hodas told the Guardian. Hodas is the chief marketing officer for Dixie, another international marijuana vendor. But this presentation packaging wasn’t just a marketing move, the packaging was also vital to complying with various states different regulations. This is one of the benefits of smaller packaging runs and digital print–the ability to change the information and aesthetics on the fly to better serve a market.

Plastic Makes Perfect.

PlasticsNews discovered a similar trend. Plastic inserts and containers are necessary for most cannabis-related products, but even those need to be designer, so as not to evoke the ‘used prescription bottle’ look associated with the closet days of marijuana use.

Whatever the source, branded marijuana packaging is being used to change perceptions and increase sales. One could say that producing marijuana is the easy part, evolving the industry is the real challenge.

The real question is how soon will we see a definitive, correlating packaging trend–like vaping and cigar-style boxes–in marijuana packaging?

Image: Potbox PR


Protective Packaging: Finding the “Goldibox”

Ecommerce continues to corner the market on how consumers purchase goods in the modern day. Groceries are just about the only thing left that people like to buy in person–and even that has multiple online delivery. But as this online market grows, so to has the demand for appropriately protective packaging. This is where it gets tricky.

If you’re an astronomy buff, you might have heard Earth referred to as a “Goldilocks Planet.” Borrowing from the old story about porridge temps, a goldilocks planet is a ‘not too hot, not too cold” planet that’s just the right distance from a sun to sustain life. And if you’re not an astronomy buff, you still know how rare this occurrence is. After all, no planets have opened up in the real estate market just yet.

How does this all relate to packaging exactly? Well, you could say the search for ecommerce protective packaging is like trying to find a “Goldilocks Box.” A Goldibox, if you will.

For ecommerce packaging, striking the right balance between several design factors has proven to be an astronomical undertaking. The packaging can’t be too heavy, else the shipping rate goes up. At the same time, if the packaging is too light, you lose durability. And nobody wants a to find a broken product upon delivery. But they don’t want it over-packaged with filler or fluff. But there needs to be packing material, of course.

At the end of the day, you’d wish you were dealing with porridge. Maybe even finding a second Earth is sounding like less of a chore at this point.

custom_protective_packaging_with_Thermoformed InsertDesigning a catch-all box for ecommerce is almost impossible, especially as the range of products available online continues to grow. When the spectrum goes from perishable foods to expensive, delicate electronics, the demand typically errs on the side of protective packaging. Totally green packaging, or lightly packed cardboard boxes, is a nice idea in theory–and does work great for lots of products–but you’re not going to trust a one-size-fits-all cardboard box for a $600 piece of hardware. For that, you want something rugged. Durable. A box that doubles as storage, not instantly disposable.
A new report from the Freedonia Group agrees. According to an article from Logistics Management, numbers for protective packaging are estimated to grow nearly 5% through 2019 as ecommerce continues to become the shopping method of the realm. What this tells us is that the focus for package design moving forward will be a sort of hybrid between the eye-catching visuals we see at the brick-and-mortar stores, the shippable nature of cardboard, and the rigid strength of presentation packaging.


Cratejoy Answers the Call of Subscription Boxers

Subscription boxes are some of the hottest products in the online marketplace. Boxes that appear at your door, loaded with goodies, almost by magic. A once-a-month Christmas custom-made just for you. The packaging for these boxes typically steers toward the minimalist approach. One-color designs on corrugated cardboard are the most common, opting for an ‘eco chic’ look. However, some skew into the presentation packaging range, especially for subscription crates with more high-end contents.

The marketing is sound. You get the surprise factor of a present, but with the comfort of knowing it’s something you like. With so many to choose from, the toughest decision might just be picking one. Everybody knows about the big dogs: LootCrate, Dollar Shave Club, and the like. But what about more niche boxes that might have a lower profile? You don’t want to miss out on those.

Enter Cratejoy, a site devoted to organizing, listing, and even hosting various subscription boxes. The site itself is sort of a digital subscription box–a meta box–a box of boxes–to help you find just the right one. Products range from ramen boxes to wrestling paraphernalia, dog treats to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Fan box.

The coolest part of Cratejoy might be the ability to create your own subscription box. An online store of sorts let’s you create your own crate. Populate your box each month, get subscribers, and let the hunt for cool monthly packables for your devoted fans ensue! Prices vary per box, of course, but some of them are as low as $9 a month!

Is creating a subscription box your dream? Then discover how Cratejoy can give you a leg up. But if your dream is just to organize cool items in classy packaging…well, we have you covered there.