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 http://www.vulture.com/2013/01/nine-classic-30-rock-jokes-as-infographics.html)

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!

Apple media presentation, image from http://appleinsider.com/

Apple Media Presentation Event: How They Get It Right

Apple fans, rejoice! The next media presentation event from the tech giant is set for next Thursday (October 27, 2016).  Like every Apple product release event, rumors are running wild about what we'll see. The frontrunning rumors include a revamped MacBook Pro, utilizing the reversible USB-C ports and ditching other ports. This is also expected to be the last media presentation at the current headquarters, as Apple's second campus should open in 2017.

How have we arrived at a place where a computer revamp is breaking news? Well, 1) it's Apple, a company that has designed a brand and image that speaks to the very core of their consumers, and 2) these media presentations are aided by intense coverage, slick graphics and, of course, beautiful products. So how does Apple do it time and again? Here are some of the key takeways from Apple's branding and presentation packaging tactics. 

Media Presentation Kit

Media Presentation Tactics

Clearly articulate the value to users 

Apple does a great job of explaining their design choices and aesthetics in their media presentations, even when it's something unpopular (like removing the headphone jack). It might feel like they're spinning off into outer space sometimes, but hey. That's passion. 

But while users can appreciate passion, they also need to understand the value proposition, and accept it as valid. Media presentation kits need to convey this through well-written, well-edited copy that is concise and relative. 

Make Data Beautiful
An increase in our ability to collect and learn from data makes infographics and other visualizations powerful storytelling devices. Find creative ways to show growth, stats, and other types of number-based information in ways that are visually compelling.

Design an Impressive Experience
Ultimately, Apple's customers don't buy their products because Tim Cook told them to do so. They come back because they know that they're getting quality devices that reflect or enhance a lifestyle and personal brand. Apple achieves this in their media presentation through using specific styles and designing experiences. It turns it from a simple purchase to more of a gift transaction.  Media presentation packaging is the key to making consumers feel special about the products they've purchased. 

Apple utilizes a specific style. Turned edge setup box, white, product photo on the top, and minimal text. It's so simple to almost be laughable, but the clean lines and simple aesthetic appeal to luxurious sensibilities.  We might suggest some different custom box styles based on your needs. We particularly like hinged lid setup boxes, which help create a kind of stage. Or, if this is a box that will need to travel easily, adding a handle increases ease of mobility.

Create an Experience, Not Just a Presentation

When it comes to media presentations, Apple is one of the best companies from which to take your cues. They have devoted followers and successful product launches. Their name is synonymous with luxury, technology, and aptitude. We at Sunrise look forward to helping you design your next media presentation kit!

Candle boxes for fall gifts

Candle Boxes & Fall Feelings

Fall is a funny time for a lot of people, especially in the northern part of the country. There's a sense of hunkering down, hibernating for winter. For some, the cooler air is invigorating. For others, it's jarring. It's a transition for everyone. To help ease into the transition, people tend to make their own traditions or create things to which they can look forward. Whether it's a different wardrobe or pumpkin-spiced anything, fall in Minnesota is the herald of change. Believe it or not, candles are actually an effective therapeutic object to make the seasonal transition easier. Whether you're starting your own candle DIY business or have some other need, check out some of the research below to help make your case. And don't forget about your candle boxes to effectively market your product! Retail packaging is far too often one of the last things people consider.

Benefits of Candlelight

Promoting Focus
Candlelight is favored over dim lighting for a few reasons. It's a more gentle kind of light that affects our eyes differently than that produced by light bulbs. It also tends to make shadows and angles less sharp and foreign due to the natural kind of gradations it produces.  It makes it easier to focus in this kind of lighting, and also allows your body to relax at the same time by reducing the stress on your eyeballs. 

Scents Are Comforting
Is it surprising that our most powerful sense is the sense of smell? Aromas tied to memories are one of the surest ways to evoke a feeling, sensation or experience. When you're in need of a pick-me-up, light some scents that remind you of positive things.  Candle boxes reflecting a scent are another reinforcer of that sense of comfort. While it might seem unexciting to design a box for a lavender color using purple, it's a scent already associated with a color. But retail packaging should make use of traditional colors, the custom box design can be a great outlet for creativity.

Upgrading Your Mood
On that same note, scents can change your mood.  In addition to memory, scent is also heavily connected to emotion. Scents like lavender stimulate calmness, as does rose. Check out some aromatherapy websites for more information on how scents can influence emotion.  If you plan on utilizing this in your candles, consider using a setup box to create a luxurious experience for consumers while also adding more content.

Candle Boxes Should Say What Candles Can't Express

Custom candle boxes are the perfect way to punctuate your product. Research shows that designing an appealing packaging solution is a great way to entice and retain customers.  Candles are a way for people to express their personality through both scent and as decor. They're going to be drawn to your product initially through candle boxes. What does the packaging say about the product? Is it a luxurious, indulgent purchase? Or does it feel a little cheap?

When in doubt, go with the former. Contact Sunrise today to design your custom candle boxes!

packaging solution

A Packaging Solution For the Subconcious

Packaging sometimes slips below the radar (hard as it is for us to believe). It’s often an under – utilized part of product marketing, despite having every opportunity to be the solution to the marketing puzzle. A packaging solution that can grab a customer’s attention both in person and  online is invaluable. Or, as Andrew Hurley posits, it’s the SEO (search engine optimization) of retail.

Packaging Solutions as SEO

Search engine optimization is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine. Hurley believes that the same principles can be applied to packaging. Both are focused on creating a value proposition that speaks to potential buyers/users. And both need to communicate not just the product, but the brand, to the audience.

Referred to as the ‘first moment of truth,’ the realization for consumers that they are ready to buy and zoned in is exactly when your product needs to grab their attention.  It’s the result of many subconscious decisions being made in the minds of your customer. Retail packaging influences these decisions.  It communicates with the subconscious and appeals to buyers on that level. Consider a quantitative assessment to determine how to drive attention toward your product. It could be color (or lack thereof), a typeface, a photo. Something that sets your product apart from the others in a positive light:

Your package, encompassing your choice of labeling, material, and branding, influences the subconscious of consumers at the shelf.

– Andrew Hurley

How to Implement a Packaging Solution

Commissioning a quantitative assessment should, at a minimum, include the following:

  1. Get to know your consumers
    The model advocated by Hurley uses a research-design-test-redesign  loop as an example for how to implement. Design should be an innovative process that involves consumer testing on every level. Design studies that put your retail packaging design in front of consumers to get feedback.
  2. Utilize eye-tracking
    There are plenty of models to follow for user testing and research, like focus groups or usability labs. One of the most helpful ones to determine if your retail packaging design is effective is eye-tracking. Eye-tracking is the ability to track the eye movements of your test subjects seamlessly as they shop. Comparing the eye-tracking information with a closing interview will reveal valuable insights regarding what subjects saw versus what they *think* they saw.

Competitive analyses are at the heart of any SEO initiative, and it makes sense how that should inform a retail packaging solution. You need to know what your rivals are up to, and how you can stand out. Spending the time to design a retail packaging solution that can grab attention in any format–in person or online–is the best way to market.

The Blessing Box Can Be Customized Year-Round

December is one of the most common times of year for organizations to plan and carry out charitable giving. Whether it's through volunteering, bell-ringing, or good old-fashioned check writing, the holiday spirit tends to move people to generosity. A blessing box is a new take on that old sentiment. Not limited to the holidays, these boxes are filled with useful things. They might have themes, like food or cleaning supplies or clothes, or be more along the lines of kits for kids going back to school or getting ready for winter. 

Now is the time to start thinking about how your company plans to give back this holiday season. Get in touch with a representative today to design your blessing box. It's a chance to share your brand as well as share the wealth.  

Tips to Start a Blessing Box Program

Order the Boxes
Work with Sunrise on a custom box design with your brand guidelines, size specifications, and any other customization.  You can keep it simple, with a shoebox-style design, or add on some more interesting elements. 

A blessing box is a great way to give back

Magnetized lids or set up boxes ensure that the box will be durable as well as a keepsake for the recipient. Consider making the design timeless (meaning not including years or other date-specific information) so the boxes can be reused  in following years. 

Find a Local Charity Who Can Disburse Them
There are different ways to find a charity with whom you can partner, or there might be recipients within your organization itself.  Partnering with a local organization to disburse your blessing boxes is a great way to build bridges locally, increase profile, and help connect with the community.  Also, use this connection to find out what kinds of things should be included in the boxes. What does the community need? 

Reach Out To Employees
Set up the charitable giving with some sort of employee incentive. For some, the act of giving might be enough, but for wider engagement, others might need a sense of competition (who can put together the best blessing box or the most blessing boxes, for example). Use the guidelines received from your partnering organization to let employees know how to prepare the boxes. 

If you plan on boxes being standardized, create a checklist for items. Or, if specific departments are going to responsible for specific items (like Chapstick, for example), then make that clear as well.  If you choose to go this route, consider setting aside an afternoon for employees to spend putting the boxes together to increase that sense of community and goodwill. 

Close the Loop
Keep in touch after the blessing boxes are sent, and find out how many families received a box, or what stories might be encapsulated in them. It's exciting and heartwarming to find out that a blessing box was utilized by a family in need, and their story.

Plan Charitable Giving Now

Now is the time to get a head start on ordering and designing a blessing box for the holiday season, as well as making those partnerships. Contact a representative today for a quote!