Smashbox cosmetic kit from

Cosmetic Kit Review: SMASHBOX

Much like how Bilbo Baggins' described going out the front door, trying a new brand of makeup can be risky business.  I don't think it's too far out of line to say that, for most ladies, once we find a product that works for us, we stick with it. The possible combinations of problems are as wide-ranging as the issues attached with having combination skin. That's my excuse for having waited this long to try Smashbox products. While I've heard great things, I've never been enticed to purchase them over my go-to products. However, I'm a sucker for a cosmetic kit. I came across their Try It - Besteller kit, which includes five of their most popular products in traveler sizes. Literally compelled by the name to *try it,* I picked it up. 

Smashbox cosmetic kit from

What's Included in the Cosmetic Kit

As mentioned, there were five samples within the kit: 

  • Photo Finish Foundation Primer 
  • Full Exposure Mascara 
  • Photo Op Eye Shadow Trio in Filter 
  • Always Sharp Waterproof Kohl Liner in Raven 
  • Be Legendary Lip Gloss in Disco Rose 

My initial impressions weren't fantastic. Packaging is important, and this corrugated cardboard feel didn't feel the way a $50+ cosmetic kit should. The inside was also anticlimactic - no custom printing, only a slide-in accompanying piece of paper describing the cosmetics - which felt like a major missed opportunity for presentation packaging. Purchasing a luxury brand should feel like luxury, not like opening a cereal box. 

But, that said, I'm happy to report that the makeup items themselves left a better impression. My favorite was the Kohl eyeliner. All-day wear, with no touch-ups, and it looked fantastic from breakfast to happy hour. Even after a few weeks of use, it's still sharp (as the name suggests). Paired with the mascara (people literally asked if I was wearing fake eyelashes), these two items created a stunning effect. I also have to give a shout-out to the lip gloss. It's hard to find a gloss that isn't sticky (is there anything worse than pulling stray strands out of your lips all day?) yet retains a sheen, and this does the trick. 

The primer and the eye shadow were...fine. For my money, nothing beats Urban Decay's primer potion and setting spray. Smashbox eye shadow was pigmented and light, which is about the minimum of what I expect for eye shadow. The included shades were fairly standard on any nude palette, and I didn't really see any reason to switch from my normal brands. 

Overall, I would purchase the eyeliner and the mascara again, maybe on the lip gloss, but no to the eye shadow and primer. I'm also not quite over the cheapness of the packaging. Like I said, when I'm shelling out for an upscale cosmetic kit, I want something that *feels* opulent. Like Dior or Urban Decay. Let that be a lesson, manufacturers: custom cosmetic kit packaging should reflect the quality of the product. 


Medical Packaging in Emerging Markets

While advancing medical technology receives plenty of buzz (as well it should), medical packaging doesn't really make headlines. It's not quite as sexy to say you made a really cool box as it is to say that you made a device that's saving lives. But the packaging plays a huge role in the lifecycle of the product.

In our global economy, it's important for products to be accessible and attainable within emerging markets. This has implications on the design of the device because if it needs a charger, a battery, scopes, any additional components, it increases the price while reducing the portion of the population who can afford it.  It affects the packaging in the same way. Multiple components require increasingly customized designs, trays, and protection.

An article on Healthcare Packaging discusses how manufacturers can address the needs of cost-effective medical packaging and device manufacturing. The design of the device is primarily what informs the package design. Both require a clear understanding of the users and how they will use the device. Does it need to be mobile? Then maybe a handle will be incorporated into the design, and foam. Does it need to be sterile? Then certain closures and materials are necessary. And that doesn't even touch on the complications in meeting international medical packaging standards. 

Medical Packaging Needs for Emerging Markets

An emerging market economy is an economy with low-to-mid per capita income. Roughly 20% of countries fall under this category, and nearly 80% of the world's population resides in them. This illustrates the ethical importance of considering the medical packaging needs of emerging markets. 

Karten medical packaging

Considerations for emerging markets include: 

  • Variety of settings
    Designing appropriately for different settings, and ensuring that the device and packaging can withstand optimal and less-than-optimal conditions
  • Robust protection
    Chances are this product will be on the move, so medical packaging that can withstand a little jostling while maintaining its integrity is necessary
  • Versatile instructions
    A product may be used by people with varying levels of knowledge and skill as well as speakers of different dialects

Worldwide, there is an increasing demand for better quality medical packaging in emerging markets. Reusable devices require robust packaging, particularly when sterility is of the utmost importance. Issues like these are why innovation in medical packaging needs to happen alongside medical device development.

Iconic product packaging design, like Starbucks, appeals to customer senses

Iconic Product Packaging in a Nutshell

Iconic product packaging design doesn't happen overnight. It takes time and research, both of the product itself and the customer base. As much as we might like to think we are all rational, evolved human beings, the science of buying shows that we rely more on primal instincts to make decisions. Consumers tend to make purchases based on instinct. For custom box design, this means color, shape, and familiarity. 

This post doesn't promise any quick, packaging miracles, but it does utilize the biomotive trigger combinations identified by Forbes which affect the subconscious. As they say, "every brand must have a distinctive point of view and be able to express this clear and unique reason for being." This helps customers identify with the brand emotionally while being enticed to pick up the product.

4 Qualities of Iconic Product Packaging

Stand Out
How can your brand define the category? Your product packaging should include a point of orientation that catches the eye of consumers. It can also make a value proposition, or convey a message of eco-friendliness. Exploring embellishments through various printing techniques, like embossing or foil stamping, is one way to achieve this in custom box design. Different printing techniques can also lend a tactile element to packaging design. It helps appeal to multiple senses, enhancing their experience.

Iconic product packaging design, like Muhammad Ali's Wheatie box, appeals to customer's emotions

If current design aesthetic is any indication, simple design is more effective than cluttered design. Think of iconic product packaging, and what comes to mind? The simple yellow with black text of a Cheerio box? The stark red and white Campbell's soup cans? Simplicity can speak volumes, particularly if it appeals to client's emotions. Forbes uses the example of a drain cleaner who, recognizing the agitation of customers in need of the product, chose a design without any graphics. The simplicity provided a kind of visual break for the customer, and resulted in sales.

Easily Identifiable
Could your product package design pass the five-year-old test?

  1. Explain your product package to a child
  2. Send them into a store
  3. They're able to identify it based on your description

This test employs factors of the previous tips. Iconic product packaging needs salient features to stand out. It needs to be simple to be quickly identifiable (to all ages). If it can pass this test, you know you have the potential to make an iconic connection with consumers. 

Triggers Engagement
One aspect of survival instinct is the need to make connections and reciprocate emotion. Think of a can of Coca-Cola: the red, the white text, the looping letters. These are visual equities. They help amplify the consumer experience by acting not only as brand signposts, but they communicate on their own. Visual equities are an important part of creating iconic product packaging because they invite consumers to engage. 


Minnesota Vikings iconic product packaging

Designing Triggers Into Packaging

Design, and creativity by extension, aren't easily quantifiable. However, by designing with biomotive triggers, iconic product packaging suddenly becomes more of a science. The end result? More sales, and more profit. 

6 Things Every Sales Kit Should Include

Most people don't like to feel like they're being sold to, but everyone likes to make feel-good purchases. An effective sales kit needs to straddle the line of information | value.  Appealing to clients means making them trust you; like any relationship, this takes time and a little bit of process.  On the surface, your organization might look like any other.  You need to make a custom sales kit that shows and tells how you do business, and how it sets you apart. 

Easier said than done, right? Here are our 6 tips to help set your sales kit apart from the competition. Sunrise is well-equipped to help translate your company's mission into design through packaging!

Poly sales kit

Tips to Create a Custom Sales Kit

You might remember from writing classes that, for people to gain all the information, there are some basic elements to address. Those elements are who, what, where, why, and how.  By applying that same theme to sales kits, you can build a compelling narrative for clients to experience. 

  1. Why: 'The Difference' Documents
    Create a document (or set of documents) that lay out how your organization is different from the competition. Be as specific as possible; this should explain why you do business, and not necessarily what you do.  This main idea should be supported by the rest of your sales kit.

  2. What: List of Services
    This is a no-brainer, but sometimes it needs to be said. For a new client, they might have some misconceptions about what's provided or offered. If you organization is particularly robust, multiple documents in different styles might be helpful to target specific client industries.

  3. Where: Case Studies
    Think of some clients for whom your organization truly made a difference. Case studies appeal to both logical and emotional natures. Clients can identify with the story, and think of ways in which your solution can help them. 

  4. How: Describe the Process
    How do you do business? Do you use checklists to ensure nothing is overlooked?  Do you have flow charts or graphics to visualize the process? Include all of these in your sales kit. People consume information effectively in different ways. The more variety you can provide, the more likely they'll pick up what you're putting down. 

  5. Who: Your Story
    Tell them who you are, as an organization, and your history. Entrepreneur Magazine recommends being open, honest, and entertaining to win their business. 

  6. Entice Them With a Packaging Solution
    While you focus on creating content that meets the criteria above, let Sunrise create a supportive package for your sales kit. There's not much worse than putting the effort into creating great content, but not being able to showcase it in a way that makes clients want to read it. Sales kits are also presentation packaging. You need a custom box design to stand out from the competition, that entices clients to read and learn more. 
Corrugated sales kit packaging solution

Sales Kit Extras

In addition to the above, think of other items that could go into a sales kit to support your mission.  If your organization has been in the news recently (for positive reasons, of course), consider including a press release or print version of the story.  Something outlining any awards or recognition in recent history can add credibility to your claims, as well as white papers to establish authority.  

We'd encourage you to think out-of-the-box, but it's not in our best interests! Contact Sunrise today to take your sales kit from concept to completion. 

Flashpad wallet custom USB stick

FlashPad Wallet: More Than Meets the Eye

Despite what some presidential front runners might think, size isn’t everything. That sentiment informed the design development of one of our newest products, the FlashPad Wallet.

Our traditional FlashPad is our most popular option for packaging USB sticks (or similar-sized products) and with good reason.  It utilizes some of our favorite finishing options, like tightly turned corners and soft touch lamination. It’s a product with unlimited options for innovative design and development. It works well as a gift for clients, a source to share information, and is reusable.  The FlashPad works for every industry as well. Whether you’re a wedding photographer sharing images or a software magnate releasing a standout demo, we can design the right product for you.

What Sets the FlashPad Wallet Apart

The FlashPad Wallet retains everything great about the FlashPad, but slightly smaller and more cost-efficient. While it was originally designed around USB drives, it can also hold gift or credit cards, coins, keys, nearly anything you can think of that fits within the specifications.  The name ‘Wallet’ comes from a few features:

  • Available as a bifold or trifold
  • Fits in the pocket

It also features sharp digital graphics for heightened visibility and brand promotion. It’s ideal for promoting social media channels and contact information.

Alluded to above, the FlashPad Wallet not only fits inside your wallet, but it’s also easier on your wallet:

  • Uses a standard template, saving on tooling costs
  • Smaller than the FlashPad, which saves on material costs
  • As part of our June special, the artwork fee is waived

Who’s Using the FlashPad Wallet? Flashpad wallet custom USB drive packaging

The University of Nebraska-Omaha was looking for a solution to help onboard new students. We can agree that the traditional packet of papers isn’t the most engaging, right?  This customized FlashPad Wallet offered them the chance to welcome new students while promoting the different ways to connect with the university. All while reinforcing their brand.

The FlashPad Wallet offers several advantages over paper or a disc. It’s more accessible and more interactive. Clients can also design a better experience (guiding users through the materials via call outs or modules built using instructional design principles and software). This fits user expectations as well as how they’re accustomed to accessing resources.

The information can also be modified in a more fluid manner. For example, you can replace information which changes frequently by embedding links to your website, social channels, online orientation, and so on. It’s also much easier to fix any sneaky typos  when it’s as simple as opening and resaving a file, and not a massive recall and reprint project.

As our June special, you can’t beat the FlashPad Wallet for convenience, design and functionality. Get a quote today!

Medical device packaging for Teknor

Medical Device Packaging: Form Following Function

Typically, packaging serves a few different purposes. It protects the product, naturally, but also needs to draw an audience. Walking down any supermarket aisle, for example, can be an assault on the senses. Every product is designed to entice, whether it’s through crazy packaging, colors, content, anything to get your attention. However, the one industry in which this is the exception and not the rule: medical device packaging.

Medical Device Packaging: The Old Standards

The principle of ‘form follows function’ is usually associated with 20th century industrial design. Basically, it means that the shape of an object should be primarily based on its intended function or purpose.  As it relates to medical device packaging, this usually translates as plain. Not many bright or fancy colors, clever logos or designs, or any of the other qualities we see in other types of packaging.

There are good reasons for this, though. Designing packaging for medical devices is a bit more restrictive than, say, a sales kit, where creativity is king. Medical device packaging must comply a plethora of elements, like:

  • Product protection (always important, but doubly so when we’re talking about spendy hearing aids, neuromodulators, and things of that nature)
  • Standards compliance (the FDA are just the tip of the iceberg if a product has to meet global regulatory standards)
  • Manufacturability
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Reliable processes not dependent or suspect to supply shortage
  • Product development timeline synchronization
  • And more

It boils down to being able to produce something for less to keep consumer costs down while keeping the product itself unharmed.  That’s still the end goal, but there’s some disruption happening in the marketplace.

A New Paradigm: Make it Better, Faster, and Cost-Effective

Innovation is on the tip of the tongue of every organization nowadays, but it’s rare to see the word make the leap from just buzzword to implementation.  Part of building an innovative culture is asking questions, and switching perspectives. That’s what Sunrise brought to the table to help Teknor Apex showcase their medical-grade PVC compounds.

Teknor medical device packaging
Teknor Apex medical device packaging

Precision-cut cavities ensure that the product is secure, as well as the sturdy packaging. The overall design uses an impactful red to convey significance and urgency while reinforcing Teknor Apex’s brand, and the tri-fold allows for ample room for more content as desired. The overall look and feel of the packaging conveys the reliability of its contents while still having a kind of futuristic vibe. Teknor Apex creates medical-grade PVC compounds in China, Singapore, Europe and the United States, and as such needs to meet global compliance standards.  

This package underscores that with understated elegance, letting the design convey innovation. It is possible to create something that speaks an international language through design (and meets the numerous medical device packaging requirements) without boring consumers. 

how to package an Apple setup box

Start With A Setup Box: How to Package Like Apple

You don’t get to be the leader in the industry without having a signature style. No other company knows this better than Apple. From an iPhone in its setup box to an iMac’s handled container, Apple’s strict packaging requirements are part of what makes their product seem so luxurious. The Apple aesthetic–reflected in their store and iOS–is marked by simplicity.

It’s no mistake that many other brands seem to mimic the aesthetic. Who doesn’t want to experience the benefit of the halo effect? Selling a product in a minimalist white box is enough to evoke the Apple mystique for consumers. But it’s more than just that. Whether you’re getting ready to launch a Kickstarter or redesigning your current packaging, here are some tips from the experts via FastCoDesign.

White setup box

This is the cornerstone. White is the signature color, and the setup box (think the iPhone box) turns opening a new phone into an unveiling ceremony. Well, as long as you’re not this guy.

Setup boxes are two piece boxes with rigid top and bottom trays. The inside can be customized to fit your product, and finishing options can enhance the experience for your customers. Following the white aesthetic (or, if you must, choosing a single color for the package) also helps reduce the number of decisions to make…which can be a major stress point for any product manufacturer.

Product should be the focus of the design

One of the most striking things about most of Apple’s packaging is the large image against a stark background. The product is always the focus of the design. Apple might use the screen in an interesting way, using it to showcase the graphics or interface of the product, but that’s about it.


While you don’t ever see a stack of Apple products at their retail stores, you know simply by looking at the packaging that there is a symmetry to the box. This helps the proportions *feel* right to consumers, even though they probably can’t put their finger on what it is that’s so pleasing.

iPad setup box.
Sunrise did not create the iPad setup box.

Minimal text

Let’s deconstruct the text on the iPad box. The lid has a picture of the iPad screen. The end of the box features the Apple logo. The sides say, ‘iPad.’ And that’s basically it. Again, the product is the focus of the design. Many product developers focus on telling people why they should purchase this product while Apple shows consumers the product, and leaves the selling to other outlets. This is a box that answers the question What’s in the box, not Why should I buy it.

From an optimistic standpoint, if you are hoping that your product is picked up for Apple distribution, you can use their guidelines to plan for a smooth transition. Note that this style isn’t for every product; sometimes you do need a little more text, more color to stand out, or just prefer an asymmetrical style. Follow your instincts, and create packaging that makes you as proud as your product does.

Season ticket holders Minnesota Vikings gate fold box

Something Season Ticket Holders Will Cheer About

As a Wisconsin native (go Pack go!), I know that fandom is a camaraderie that extends off the field. It’s one thing to be fan, but it’s another level to be a season ticket holder. Season ticket holders are a unique breed. They’re ride-or-die types; they feel the wins and losses of their team personally. They know the name and stats of every person on the team (and definitely have an opinion on them).  It’s a passion that’s sustaining and reciprocal; sports teams don’t always play well, but season ticket holders always make it to their seats.

To honor that passion and commitment, consider upgrading the packaging for those season tickets they hold so dear. Here are few suggestions that offer a luxe element balanced with functionality and quality. Talk to one of our reps to learn more about finishing options. Embossing, lamination, and foil stamping are just a few ways to highlight that logo and incite maximum excitement for the upcoming season.

season ticket holder sleeve box

Custom Sleeve Box

The functionality of the sleeve box is timeless. Think of how match boxes open, the inner tray sliding crisply out of a sleeve, both elements complimenting each other. The sleeve box works well for a variety of products, from cell phones to vape / e-cigs, because it holds its contents securely and the inner tray is crafted from sturdy turned edge chipboard. Add some texture in the form of embossing, foil or debossing to truly impress your fans.

Minnesota Vikings season ticket holders custom gate fold boxes magnet box

Gate Fold Box

The gate fold box is marked by the enticement factor. Hinged double doors, clasped shut by a magnetic closure, begging to be opened.  Gate fold boxes are fantastic for presentation packaging. They make strong impressions and can be easily used as keepsakes or mementos. Diehard fans love well-made, logo-emblazoned keepsakes. What types of fan-related memorabilia could your season ticket holders keep in this box through the years?

Front Open Box, ideal for season ticket holders

Front Open Box

It’s not what you think. A customized front open box creates a one-of-a-kind experience for your season ticket holder. Starting with a sturdy and rigid package, the top flap is held shut by magnets. Then – ta da! – the front swings up and back, not unlike a convertible car. The high walls make it ideal for print materials or other types of collateral. It literally looks like a treasure chest, which is pretty much the same thing to your season ticket holders.

magnetic closure cigar style box with silver foil stamping for season ticket holders

Cigar Box with Magnetic Closure

There’s a reason that this style of box is one of the most popular styles we produce. The magnetic closure on this cigar style box (in this example, with silver foil stamping, created for the Carolina Panthers) turns opening this box into a ceremony. The slow reveal of its contents adds to that theatrical element. The style also lends itself well to a variety of finishing options. Simply put, it’s a classic box that can be easily updated and customized.

Season Ticket Holders: The Foundation of the Fandom

Upgrading season ticket packages creates keepsakes for die-hard fans. Sunrise has created packaging not only for our local teams, but for a variety of teams in a variety of sports. We like to think of it as packaging for fans by fans, and unlike sports teams, we never disappoint.

Magnetic box urban decay through the looking glass make up palette

Urban Decay Slays With Magnetic Box Palette

While not a Sunrise product, Urban Decay is known for going all-out when it comes to releasing palettes. I’ve long been a sucker for these releases, not only because their eye shadow is amazing, but I love the presentation packaging. The 2010 ‘Alice in Wonderland Book of Shadows’ release did not disappoint; I don’t mind the retread of colors in the palette, and as an Alice fan, I’m on board because of box quality. Magnetic box closure, vibrant colors, soft finishing, it’s all a part of the package. So when Disney announced the release of ‘Through the Looking Glass,’ my hopes were up that a second Urban Decay palette was on the way, too.

And it was! The palette launched a few weeks ago, and I finally got my hands on one. Urban Decay calls the packaging a “trippy tribute” with stunning colors and pop-up features. The top has a slight magnetic closure to it, and upon slipping it open, an embossed quote appears over two doors. Upon opening those, a butterfly pops up (literally, it pops up).  The packaging is LUXE to the extreme. Which is what we’ve come to expect from Urban Decay at this point, but the literal pull of the magnetic box never ceases to incite a little excitement in me. And while it’s ultimately the twenty new shades that I’ll actually use from this purchase, what is it about the packaging that makes it a little extra special? Let’s break it down.

Cigar Box Design

The style of all Urban Decay palette boxes is called a ‘cigar box’ for the way the top flap opens. While the make up drawer itself isn’t necessarily a part of the cigar box features, the pull-out style reminds me of a humidor.

Magnetic Box Closure

Maybe it’s a psychological feature, but that tiny bit of extra effort to open the magnetic box closure increases the anticipation to see what’s inside. In short, magnet boxes make everything cooler. At Sunrise, it’s one of our favorite style of boxes. Our signature style – we call them NetBoxes – are similar to Urban Decay’s palette design. Both utilize the cigar box layout with a magnetic hinged lid to add elements of sophistication.

Dimensional Visuals

This box is practically a kaleidoscope. The colors reflect the eye shadow palette while evoking the spirit of Alice and Through the Looking Glass without compromising any part of Urban Decay’s brand.  It’s velvety and rich. Just like the product.

Get Ready to Fall Down a Rabbit Hole

Well, a make up one, at least. With the film’s release date just a few weeks away, this palette is sure to sell out soon. Not only for the new shades, but any Urban Decay and/or Alice fan will scoop them up quickly. And if there’s one lesson we can all learn from Alice and the rest of the wonderland crew, time is relative!

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.