Newbies Guide to Branded Packaging

March 19, 2019 by Erin Behan

So you need branded packaging, but don't know where to start. Follow these 5 steps to go from idea to branded box in hand.

kraft mailer boxes

1. Identify the size and type of packaging you need.
Don't skip this important first step. It may be tempting to jump right into design, but it's better to sort out your packaging needs first. Standard shipping options include mailer boxes and shipping boxes—both strong enough to withstand the rigors of cross-country shipping—while popular folding carton options include the fold-up box, gable box, and tuck box—just right as gift boxes or shelf display packaging. To determine the right size for your packaging, you'll need to consider the size of your product and include any interior materials, whether that's custom tissue paper or cushioning materials to keep your goods safe in transit. If you'll need to ship your packaging, you may also want to consult shipping prices according to box size and total weight (USPS, UPS). Now is also a good time to start thinking about your shipping box material; for information on kraft, white, premium white, and more options, see How to Choose the Right Shipping Box Material for Your Brand. When printing on kraft paper, for instance, colors that work best are dark, bold, vibrant colors. White works well with all colors, but is a natural choice for lighter colors.

2. Source the text and art you want to include.
You'll want to gather your logo and any important artwork in one place. Make sure you have high-quality originals. Logos and graphics need to be formatted to at least 300 dpi (dots per inch), with transparent backgrounds for good, crisp graphics. Note that images taken from the internet won't work as they are generally 72 dpi. Any non-photographic content (including graphics and text) should be vector-based files to ensure lines are crisp and clear. Logos usually need to be separated from the background, resized, or otherwise manipulated. You'll need to have these saved as .jpg, .png, or pdf. If you're short on ideas, check out 5 Sites to Bookmark for Design Inspiration.

3. Solidify the main message you want your packaging to convey.
You've likely got a lot of great reasons to boast about your company or product, but when you're designing packaging, it's important to focus on just one message and have your text and artwork reinforce that message. What makes your product or business stand out from the competition? Is there one special thing about your brand you want to reinforce to your customers? Whatever your main message, make sure it's communicated on your packaging. For more packaging design tips, see Mistakes Not to Make When Designing a Box.

4. Choose a design program and start designing.
The trickiest thing about designing packaging is creating a dieline—a task that someone new to designing will find quite challenging. With Distinct Packaging, there's no need to go to the trouble of creating your own dieline. Instead, simply select the type and size packaging you need at and then choose to either download the dieline onto your computer to work in your favorite design program, such as Illustrator, or go right into the Distinct Packaging online design tool and work there. Either way, the process is simple and intuitive. For more step-by-step instructions, check out How to Design a Box on Distinct Packaging.

Distinct Packaging Design Tool

5. Preview and proof your design.
It's not always easy to imagine what your two-dimensional packaging design looks like as a three-dimensional object, but Distinct Packaging takes the guesswork out with its 3-D preview. Once you've completed your design (either in your own program or online in Distinct Packaging's tool), view it in Distinct Packaging's online tool for a 3-D rendering that you can see from every angle. If that's still not enough, you might consider ordering a sample box; for more on that, see When to Order a Sample Box. Once you're set with your design, simply choose the amount you need, and order.

custom designed mailer boxes

If designing your own box seems like more work than you'd like to take on, consider hiring someone to design your packaging for you. The easiest way to do this through Distinct Packaging is to sign up for its Design Assistant service. Fill out one simple form and get connected with one of Distinct Packaging's expert packaging designers. You forward on your artwork and ideas, and the designer turns it into just the packaging you need. Check out these tips for choosing a creative agency if you're starting from scratch and need a logo and other brand elements created.

Need help? Email anytime, or call (877) 464-1959, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m EST and talk to one of Distinct Packaging's U.S.-based customer service agents.
Erin Behan

Written by Erin Behan

Erin Behan is an L.A.-based writer and editor who considers fine paper one of life's little pleasures.


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