When you're setting out to design a custom box for your company, event, or personal use, it can be tempting to want to use *all the colors*. But unless you've got a rainbow in your logo, consider keeping your box design to a single color. Keep in mind that you'll be able to use the kraft or white box on which you're printing to add contrast to your overall design.
Photo by Public Goods
Black and White
There is a reason why black and white is a classic choice for logo and packaging design. Black is bold. Black is often associated with luxury. Black can simplify your life. And black signifies a seriousness that pink just isn't ever going to be able to pull off. Black's contrast with white, which tends to represent cleanliness and purity, may be just the punch your brand needs to get the attention it deserves.
The personal care product line Public Goods uses black and white to communicate its core values: basic goods that are thoughtfully made and simply sold using a membership model that allows for a much reduced price on items like shampoo, conditioner, and soap.
Q Drinks uses black and white to great effect on its beverage carrier and boxes for tonic water. The botanical theme represented in monochrome stands out in a crowd of tonics. Q also uses individual colors to represent the various mixers it sells — purple for ginger beer, pink for ginger ale, etc.
Another black and white design that works is Kosas, called "a lipstick line for minimalists" by The New York Times. The company's spare but elegant packaging communicates that aesthetic in simple black and white printing, with typography wrapped around one corner of the box. Of course, the bright-hued lipstick within inside provide a nice pop of color to its black and white packaging.
Photo by Made Collection
All the Other Colors (One at a Time, of Course!)
One key to using a single color successfully is typography. Whether you go with a blue-and-white theme like the design studio Made did when it created these shipping boxes for its branded gear (with contrasting red tape to bring home its made-in-the-USA theme), or use a different color for every type of product, as design studio DekoRatio did for I Can Spice, integrating typography and line drawings can really rev up a simple color design. Perhaps one of the more successful single-color designs is from brand icon Coke, which created a very spare, effective six-pack design using its iconic red and white in 2014.
Photo by Kid O
A single color can also play with shape, as with the packaging boxes from children's toy brand, Kid-O, designed by Studio Lin. When seen from the side, the boxes show a white silhouette of the toy inside, contrasted by a colorful background. Keeping the color simple allows for the shape to lead the design.
When you've got a single color design working, you might turn to pattern, using stripes, chevron, or polka dots as a way of catching the eye. Dots are a favorite for event and wedding gift box packaging, and for good reason. They communicate the idea of fun: Hello, champagne bubbles! Don’t be afraid to go big with metallic, or match your wedding colors to the dots on your gift box.
How to Make It Work for You
No matter your design, remember to keep is simple, a design tenant that applies to font choice, overall design, and color choice. For more on simplifying your design, check out Mistakes Not to Make When Designing a Box, and for the easiest way to design a custom box, use Distinct Packaging. Its 3-D preview, high-quality printing, low minimums, and quick turnaround time (boxes ships no more than 10 days after an order is placed) makes it the leader in custom packaging.