10 Tips for Designing a Custom Subscription Box—How to Make Sure your Packaging Stands Out

Picture your customer breaking into a smile. The first interaction people have with a subscription box is when it arrives on their doorstep. This box should make them smile. Do you feel confident about designing that package for your brand? Many people come to us looking for a unique way to ship their subscription box, but a talented business owner doesn’t necessarily mean a talented designer. And while we have purposely built our website to make building your box as easy as possible, sometimes it’s nice to have a little help.

A man working in retail balances his books, sitting next to a pile of craft boxes.

The most important part of you packaging is the design. Let’s be honest, if you’re going to pay for custom work, you should come away with an effective and unique design. Why else do it?

We spoke back in 2017 about the booming subscription box business and it has only gotten bigger since then. Your branded package can leave a lasing memory or be forgettable and tossed aside. We want it to be memorable. We want people to love it so much, that they keep the box. There are subscription boxes I’ve received in the mail that now hold photographs. My daughter has a few that she keeps her trinkets in. Another box holds our crayons and art supplies. You get the idea.

We interviewed 3 designers who outlined effective strategies and common mistakes people make while designing.

1. DO change up your artwork

If you are sending out a monthly box, switch up the graphics once a month. If that is too daunting, try to change by the seasons. People’s reason for purchasing change throughout the year. That means your marketing strategy should change too. So, get creative and have fun with your design! (Look at our Instagram, art galleries, Pinterest or just about anywhere you can for inspiration.)

2. DO include social media usernames somewhere

It will be one of the first places people look to find you. It’s also an easy way to drive traffic to your site

3. DO strategically size your box to decrease shipping costs

It’s not always one size fits all and shipping something in a box that’s too big will just cost you money. FedEx and UPS use a pricing technique based on dimensional weight. (That means they will charge you for how much space your box is taking up in their truck, not always by how much it weighs.) We work with a few companies who even change the size of their box each month to make sure it fits the products they are shipping.

4. DO spellcheck. And spellcheck again. And again

You wouldn’t believe the amount of designs we’ve received with misspelled words. You’ll send a message that your company is sloppy and doesn’t put in effort.

a young woman smiling as she opens a Bomibox and takes a picture of its contents

5. DON’T play it safe

Try something with bold patters, wording or colors. Even if it’s just a small part of the box. The Unboxing Experience is a REAL thing. People out there are sharing videos of opening subscription boxes at an incredible rate. Create something as interesting as what you are putting inside.

6. DO add print inside

Talk about a surprise for your customer! You can add details on the inside as well as the outside for a spectacular box. We have also seen many people who will leave the outside of the box blank, and instead do a fun inside design.

7. DO ask for help

Dare to ask questions! Ask friends and colleagues for their opinion of your design. Sometimes it helps to have a second set of eyes. If you have specific design questions, we’d love to assist and can provide a dedicated designer to help with layout, color and design reviews.

8. DO add custom inserts

Not only do inserts create a clean, upscale presentation, they also add an extra level of protection during storage and transportation. (Thus, eliminating the need for additional bubble or paper packaging.) If you have products that need to be in separate sections, inserts can be a great way to divide up your packaging and make the contents stand out. CompanyBox has a team of structural designers who can create these custom inserts for your box. These would be produced in our facility and shipped along with your order.

a decorated box opened to reveal a typed letter as part of the interior printing

9. DON’T use small typeface

Some things may look good while your designing on-screen but once printed, text smaller than 10 point can look blurry especially if the font is thin.

10. DON’T use a pixelated image

It just won’t print well. Promise! A pixelated image can happen unintentionally when a low-resolution image designed for an ordinary computer display is enlarged for printing and each pixel becomes separately visible. These type of images are usually flagged by us and you will be asked to submit a higher resolution image, but for best results, all artwork and image resolution should be no less than 300 dpi.

Take a look at your subscription packaging. Is there room to add something from this list? Is there something that could be updated? If you’re still not sure where to start, don’t forget #7. We are here for you.

How can we help?

We’re all ears. Drop us a line and we’ll get in touch!

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