Digital Print Trends 2016

Digital print for promotional packaging

Custom packaging is a pretty broad topic. Does it mean a cardboard box, a plastic wrapper, or a metal briefcase? When designing packaging for a product, the one major element to hit is to choose a design that complements the product itself. Form follows function, at the end of the day.

One way to keep a box customized while also the right fit for the job is to utilize digital printing.

 

What is digital print?

It is what you think it is: a process by which a digitally-stored image is printed directly onto the medium. This shouldn’t sound revolutionary. You might assume most images seen on packaging are digitally-printed. However, when it comes to boxes, t-shirts, or anything printed in large amounts, screen printing is still a more practical process in bulk.

A new press release, however, shows the beauty of going digital. David Luttenberger, global packaging director for the Mintel Group, has made a list of packaging trends for 2016--and right at the top? A focus on digital print.

Luttenberger calls the rise of this technique an evolution, not revolution. Which is true: experts have been predicting a digital boom as far back as 2013. But what digital printing offers is far more versatile than the endless, one-shot screen print process. Screen printing cannot be manipulated on the fly like digital can. With digital printing, you can change ingredients, logos, and instructions with a few changes to the digital source. This allows for smaller runs, or preliminary press versions of product packaging. Luttenberger draws attention to the successful Coca-Cola campaign of including names on their labels. This imaginative marketing would not have been plausible with screen printing.

Digital also allows you to include smaller details for higher-definition. Screen printing works for simple logos, but if you need to include lifelike imagery, digital is the only way to go.

In a nutshell, digital printing gives businesses more freedom. Freedom to try a new look, a new campaign, or a new marketing strategy, without committing to the asset creation or monotony of screen printing.

Will digital finally see it’s boom in 2016? Only time will tell.

The Evolution of Smart Packaging

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The evolution of smart Packaging has progressed very quickly. Just a few years ago, smart packaging meant a label on a box with a tracking number, or even more advanced: a barcode readable by a laser scanner. In more recent years, the QR Code, short for Quick Response, became so popular that it was hard to find an advertisement without one. Scannable by a smartphone, a QR code would bring an interested user to a website, tutorial video, or social media account. They became almost fashionable. Websites spawned to generate and track QR codes for the purposes of trend following. It looked like the new wave in online marketing strategy.

And yet, today, if you were to Google ‘smart packaging’ QR codes would be the farthest from. While they are still an easy, worthwhile asset, smart or intelligent packaging has moved into an almost science-fiction-like state. Slim microchips that detect if food is rotting is included in packaging to help specify ‘sell by’ dates. One step further, nano-technology in packaging may actually inhibit mold and microbe growth.

Where once packaging was meant to be kept secular from the product inside, it’s now directly linked to it. That is an evolution in packaging in general. Boxes that are more than just a vessel of delivery, but actually sustain the contents. Support it and promote it.

So while the distinction is smart packaging is splintering–active packaging, intelligent packaging, etc–the rate at which innovation is being made is exponential across the board. Slim micro-screens and app interaction have teamed up to make “virtual mirrors” for cosmetic products. The eerie sounding “augmented human” trend could let consumers try on makeup at the store without ever putting anything on their skin.

In some ways, the future of packaging is in flux. There’s always a call for less wasteful packaging, but with the technologies listed above, paired with anti-theft measures, marketing tactics, and procedural instructions, one could argue packaging is more important than ever.

More:

Packaging Digest

Mintel

Medgadget

Image: Packaging Digest

WestPack is Back

Forget Winter…WestPack is Coming!

westpack_convention_floorIt’s back and once again in sunny California. WestPack 2016 Anaheim represents one of the biggest packaging conventions in the States. The 3-day event (Feb. 9 – 11) promises expert presentations and unparalleled networking opportunities for vendors, promoters, and those in need of product packaging.

Beautiful setting aside, this is a unique convention in that it puts packaging aficionados and knowledgeable experts under one roof. In addition to a more traditional convention floor setting (which is massive), the expo also hosts keynote speakers and panels ranging in topic from marketing strategy to the up-and-coming materials and textiles. It also features “speed networking” sessions. Like speed dating, but for business purposes. Fun and practical!

unique_networking_opportunity_westpack

westpack_keynote_speaker_panelSunrise Packaging will be holding down Booth 5451, representing Minnesota in the luxury packaging industry. We will be premiering our new 2016 catalog, introducing our new Mag Box family, as well as showing off some of our wares. If you need an impromptu vacation, please come see us in sunny Anaheim California!

Packaging Concept: Aluminoes™

 

Aluminoes™_custom_packagingForm follows function is the box design rule of thumb. But you can have a little fun with it.

Such is the case with Aluminoes™, a collection of beautifully crafted aluminum dominoes. Their high quality construction paired with sharp colors, inlaid with crystals, and the ability to be custom engraved make Aluminoes™ a top-tier version of the classic game. This is a product that’s a perfect candidate for upscale box design. A twist on our Front Open box, this radical packaging features stylized windows that preview the product and riser for a sturdier fit. The overlapping lid secures into place with hidden magnetic tabs providing a luxurious enclosure.

Aluminoes™_front_open_boxThe rectangular windows add a symmetry to the minimalist design. The box is a stunning black with hints of white in the form of the offset logo. This symmetry, coupled with the black-and-white theme, is reminiscent of more traditional dominoes, but the product itself is anything but traditional.

We love designing boxes to complement products. You don’t want packaging that steals the show entirely, nor would you want a product that is a diamond inside of a piece of coal. Aluminoes™ and their packaging represent a perfect middle ground between artistic design and functional storage. Keepsake packaging that becomes an instant memento, while retaining a sleek, modern look.

Aluminoes™_aluminum_dominoes_custom_boxLearn more about Aluminoes™ by visiting their website here, and stay dialed into our blog for more interesting concept designs.

Is it a Book or a Box?

box or bookIt’s a book! It’s a box! It’s…a what now?

When it comes to our custom pads, we often get asked What are they? Is it a book or a box? Sometimes, we even have to ask ourselves that.

Citylights3Well, let’s look at the facts. A custom pad, such as the FlashPad or PowerPad, is made with rigid chipboard, complete with our famous turned-edge wrapping technique. If you go by those elements, it’s a box like any of our other presentation packaging. It opens. It’s fit with foam. Yeah, still sounds like one of our boxes. But is there a lid? No. But it holds something, right? Yes! Just about anything as a matter of fact! And it has sides? Well, not technically…

Okay, let’s explore the book angle? Hardcover? Check! Turned edge binding? Absolutely. Front cover, back cover? Images? Blurbs? Yes, yes, yes, and yes! And pages?

No!

custom_book_boxOkay, that’s kind of a big one to not have for a book. But you can read a custom pad. Open one up and there’s plenty to read. That’s one of the biggest reasons for their popularity at trade shows or for software. The minute you have one in your hands you can’t NOT open one! There’s something about holding a custom pad that feels…valuable. Like a book. It’s that same reason why hardcover beats paperback, or why a real live physical book beats an e-book.

So maybe it’s not a box or a book. So what is it then?!

It’s a book box. It’s hybrid packaging. It’s a solution.

Look, whatever you decide to call our custom pad family, there’s one word that sums them up perfectly: effective. As a miniature marketing kit, as retail software packaging, as trade show SWAG, as a flash drive holder, as a digital album, a custom pad shines. It stands out. And, most importantly, it gets opened. When you want to be seen and remembered–a customized pad, a personalized FlashPad, or a specialty-wrapped PowerPad packs the biggest punch. See what our little book box can do for you.

Feelgood Product Packaging?

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Business site Fast Company posted an article this morning about McDonald’s updating their to-go bags, cups, etc. The new designs are technically minimalist, compared to their predecessors, but still features bright, looping lettering in a variety of colors.

The beautifully-written story is titled Can Packaging Design Make You Feel Better About Eating Fast Food? While it may just be a catchy headline, it does pose an interesting question within a question:

Can Product Packaging Make You Feel Better?

 

The article cites McDonald’s move as making fast food appear more fashionable. Sound strategy, since fast food popularity has hit an all-time low (at least, when talking to your fit friends at parties). Re-branding a company’s imagery is smart, helping organizations out of lulls or peaking after a plateau. It’s the core of what packaging design is. Changing the exterior is a reflection of changing the interior. Everybody can relate to wanting to create a new image for oneself, right?

But can it make you feel better? Well, it depends on the definition of you. In this instance, you is clearly the consumer. So does seeing a clever package design make the average shopper feel better? I’d argue that yes, like a powerful piece of art, an aesthetic design can bring a smile to one’s face. More importantly, that charming covering might be the difference between being bought and being left on the shelf.

But if I’m talking to you, business owner, does a new product packaging design make you feel better, then, well…the answer is still yes. New packaging for your product can feel like putting on an elegant dress, or a sharp suit. It’s not just about what it looks like on the shelf, it’s about you feeling passionate about your product. That’s the real message you’re sending with your product packaging, isn’t it? A sense of pride in your hard work. The belief in your product. Sometimes your product itself can’t reflect the passion you feel about it–form follows function, after all–but package design can articulate that emotion, that value, where the actual product cannot.

Does your product packaging need a refit? Your brand need rebranding? We can help.

Images: Fastcodesign.com / McDonald’s

Sunrise Packaging – 2015 and Beyond

JanlEblastAs the new year approaches, we reflect on 2015. Accomplishments and changes, the growth of the family. Learning from these things, all the while looking forward to the future.

For Sunrise Packaging, 2015 was a big year.

SwiftPack_new_product_2015For starters, we launched a variety of new products. Innovation was definitely the name of the game, this year. Custom projects such as the Front Open Box and Gate Fold Box transformed the definition of “box” in a big way. From the SwiftPack gift card holder, to the flat-shipping InstaBox, we looked for ways to reduce the time between initial design to shipping. The InstaBox (short for Instant Rigid Box) made an extraordinary stride in bridging the gap between luxury packaging and corrugated cardboard. A product that ships flat like corrugated, but assembles into upscale packaging when you need it. A major victory in the war on wasted space.

TdApiBpYou could say the InstaBox was a foray into hybrid packaging. That also became a theme of 2015. Our custom pads were already hybrid packaging–the combining of box and book–but products like the InstaBox and Sleeve Box followed suit, utilizing the best traits of our more popular custom boxes.

We also introduced our new PowerPad; custom power bank packaging to go with another new product. Power banks, like USB drives before them, are the latest promotional item rife with space for personalizing, and making the rounds at trade shows and conventions.

Power-PadPower banks are another step towards practical presentations. Products that not only look good, but serve a function too. Power banks make a great promotional giveaway because they have a reusable purpose, unlike a business card or novelty whistle. Presentation packaging can serve this same purpose. A box that retains its use as a presentable storage solution. Packaging that is worth more on your mantle than it is in the recycling bin. Creating reusable, post-consumer packaging around that theme was a big goal for us this year.

On the technical side, we started improving the user experience on our websites. SunPack.com, SunriseBoxes.com, and USBpackaging.net all got a much needed responsive makeover, with more improvements are planned for 2016. While it’s difficult to provide specifics on products which we make uniquely custom, we hope to create sites that inform as well as flow seamlessly, feeding into one another for the ultimate, easy-to-use interface.

Nov-SPECIAL

In the same vein, our biggest change was moving into a new facility earlier this month. That’s right, Sunrise Packaging now resides at:

1214 98th Ave NE
Blaine, MN 55434

 

Though it’s just down the road from our previous location, this new location offers more streamlined interaction between our sales team and manufacturing department. 2016 will be about running leaner to reduce overhead. More specialized equipment and less waste materials will mean faster turnaround time.

And while New Year’s is a time to reflect on changes and growth, it’s also a time to remember the staples. The gold standards, if you will. As our technology changes and our team grows, we will always provide the same exceptional customer service with a personal touch. After all, personalization is what we do, isn’t it? Our standards of quality will not get leaner. We will always deliver an exceptional product, customized to exactly the right fit.

Call it a resolution, but don’t call it new.

From our family to yours, Sunrise Packaging wishes you best for this new year.

And be sure to stick around. You’ll want to see what comes next.

Star Wars: The Brand Awakens

starwarshorizontal

 

Star Wars is back. Last night, after a long, excruciating wait I finally saw The Force Awakens. Without spoilers: it was incredible. And today I woke up (we’ll pretend I actually slept) and I thought How can I tie this into packaging so I can blog about it? I’ve only ever done it here. And here. Also here.

Fortunately, I thought of something.

In all seriousness, this one’s a doozy. Branding. It’s at the heart of everything we do. Every logo we put on a flash drive, every custom box we foil stamp, we are helping businesses build a stronger brand image. Something so memorable that a customer associates the product with a solution. It’s the backbone of marketing, retail presence, and the aesthetics of packaging. And nobody does branding better than Star Wars.

Although some might say that lately there has been an…abundance of Star Wars branded merch. At a cocktail party, I would say to that too much Star Wars is better than no Star Wars! But, professionally, I would say this:

Star Wars licensing is an interesting story, historically-speaking. Starting back in the 70s when George Lucas managed to retain licensing rights. This was rather unheard of, but technically the Star Wars films are indie flicks. Especially the Prequel trilogy, almost exclusively funded by Lucas himself. But what a payoff, right? Think of every product you’ve seen with the Star Wars logo slapped on it.

Of course, Lucas sold the property to Disney. To the tune of $4 billion. Insert R2-D2 wail here. As big a company as Disney is, you can’t blame them for trying to turn a profit on their investment. Think about this: The Force Awakens has earned $100 million in advance ticket sales, but that’s still only 1/40th of what they paid for the franchise. Add to that the actual cost of making a special effects blockbuster and you realize they have a long way to go. Brand away!

star_wars_brand_duracell_batteries

Image: Duracell

But how come other movies don’t do that? Well other movies are usually set in modern, Earth-based times, and fill their shots with branded items and product placement. Unfortunately for Star Wars, a character can’t whip out an iPad or use a Samsung lightsaber to offset the cost. Thus, you can’t fault the franchise for allowing Star Wars batteries to exist.

Whether you think there’s too much Star Wars in the world or not, you can’t deny the power of branding. It’s more than just your logo on your product, it’s building a legacy. An empire, if you will. Familiarity is key to building market trust, and what’s more familiar than a brand that is everywhere?

So, as in all things, take a page from Star Wars. When it comes to custom branded packaging, do or do not–there is no try. At Sunrise Packaging, we sincerely hope you do. And when it comes time to design that perfect packaging solution, remember that ours are the best in the galaxy.

The Story on T.I.M.E Stories

What_Did_You_Play_Mondays_T.I.M.E Stories

When I report on a game for this blog, I try to make sure it ticks a few boxes. For one, it needs to have depth; a plot or mechanic of sustenance so that I actually have something to talk about. It needs to be entertaining, for obvious reasons. And, perhaps most of all, there needs to be something noteworthy about the packaging.

The game I played this weekend is called T.I.M.E Stories, published by Space Cowboys–and it didn’t just tick all the boxes, it punched through them. Especially in the packaging department. Calling this game box “noteworthy” is an understatement.

But we’ll get to that in a bit. First, let’s see if I can sum up T.I.M.E Stories. Oh boy.

Stories Old as Time

Describing the story of the game is tricky. Not because the game lacks a plot (the exact opposite actually). In fact, the plot is so deep that half the fun is just making your way through the twists and turns in the story. The premise is that you’re a temporal agent of the T.I.M.E. Agency. So, yeah, it’s a time travel game. Those are rare enough in general, but T.I.M.E Stories is truly a gem. As a time-travelling cadet you are transported back to a time in history to fix some sort of disturbance. In the case of the base game, the destination is a mental asylum in 1927. All you know at the outset of the game is that something is going down and you need to handle it.

Want to know what it is? Tough. For one, the unfolding story is the ultimate mechanic. To spoil that is to ruin the game. And for two, well, my gaming group and I didn’t exactly beat it yet…

That’s right. Our first mission was a failure. But that’s the beauty of time travel. You can go back again and again until you get it right. And, believe me, you’ll want to go back.

If you didn’t guess, T.I.M.E Stories is cooperative. You and your team are trying to unravel the plot together via choices, puzzles, conflicts, and plenty other creative twists that you won’t see coming. As in all games, your choices are still your own and there’s always points of contention with your teammates at some point. But much like variety is the spice of life, competition is the spice of games–even co-op ones.

If you’re thinking But can I ever play again after I beat the story? welcome to the 20 straight minutes I spent in the game store trying to decide if it was worth it. But having played it, I can tell you that answer is a resounding yes. For a number of reasons, actually.

First of All

Good luck beating it on your first run through, hot shot. There are so many twists and turns in the story that even if you do come out victorious on all the challenges your first time through, you still probably missed a lot of side quests and scenarios. If you play again, your goal should be to discover those extra rooms, clues, and items. Or, if you did discover everything, next time do it faster. That’s the whole point of the T.I.M.E. Agency. Trying to achieve that “perfect run.”

Secondly

There’s a dice-rolling element. I’d call it a combat mechanic, but there’s a lot more gray area in this game than just cut-and-dry combat. The clever and tension-building dice roll mechanic will make any replay a different adventure altogether.

And Third

There are more scenarios available utilizing the base set. Currently, there’s 3 available stories beyond the Asylum scenario, each with their own characters, plots, items, and quests. The stories have an end but, potentially, the game is endless.

Though, technically, it is a story-based game, meaning once you’ve played through, you get what’s going on. But much like a good movie you watch again, or a favorite book you come back to, eventually you’ll want to relive the experience.

Of course if you only play to play it once through, it’s very easy to savor the flavor of this game. That’s where the ingenious packaging comes in.

The Story on the T.I.M.E Stories Box

T.I.M.E Stories custom box_story game

Image: Space Cowboys

I’ll start with the visuals. In a word: perfect. The custom game box is unbelievably eye-catching. Much like Tokaido, it favors the minimalist approach. But T.I.M.E Stories’ box makes Tokaido’s box look like a Jackson Pollack painting. Stark white with a simple, nearly-invisible font that ensures you’ll have to get up close and personal with the box to find out what it is, the biggest visual component is a right-skewed rendering of one of the time travel pods.. A subtle sliver and a hint of things to come. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the outer packaging is the use of both matte and gloss laminations, creating two different textures–one soft touch, one smooth–in conjunction with the crisp turned edges. If you turn the box over or unbox the game itself, that’s when the colors really start to pop. The gameboard itself is beautifully minimalist as well, allowing the beautiful era-appropriate artwork of the cards to shine once the game is in play. The simplicity of the board also lends itself to the replaying of scenarios. New decks, same board.

But that isn’t the ‘ingenious’ part of the game box.

 

The really cool feature of this box is the custom thermoformed insert. It’s the definition of unique. Not only does it pack the game components away in a very organized fashion (a huge bonus in itself), the molded plastic insert acts as a ‘pause’ feature, kind of like a video game. Specially-labeled and spaced compartments allow cards and tokens to be put away so that if you need to take a break in the gameplay, you can easily pick up where your team left off. There’s your other replay value factor: much like a bookmark in a book too good to finish, you can stretch the hours of gameplay out as long as you like.

Kudos, Space Cowboys. You thought way outside the box, by thinking way inside of it. Most impressive.

As an avid board-gamer and a packaging aficionado, I have to say that T.I.M.E Stories really is all it’s cracked up to be. Exciting story, nail-biting dice rolls, smart mechanics, high-art graphics, and truly unique features makes T.I.M.E Stories a game for the ages. H.G. Wells would be proud.


WDYPMWhat did you play this weekend? Keep up with Geeky Goodies’ #WhatDidYouPlayMondays hashtag and remember Sunrise Packaging for all your custom game board and game box production needs.


 

The Power Bank Cometh

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Customized Power Banks

are quickly soaring to the top of promotional giveaway items. Not only are they growing as a fashionable accessory, but they are functional to the point of lifesaving. A souvenir you can use on the spot is prime. It’s like if you were stranded on a desert island, and Todd’s Tax Services starting handing out bottles of water with their name on it. Chances are you’re going to call Todd next time you need your taxes done.

Maybe the average situation isn’t as dire as that, but an extra charge for your smartphone can come in handy. Maybe you’re making the rounds at a new product expo and you’re supposed to be sending your boss real-time, play-by-play photos. Do you really want to catch a cab back across town to your hotel room and wait for your phone to charge? Or what if you’re in a strange city and need to find your way back? Do you really want to tap that GPS toggle when you’re down to 7%?

A Promotional Power Bank

gives people freedom. A chance to venture out further, stay in the moment longer, or capture a memory that otherwise would have been missed. So, in a way, handing someone a fully-charged power bank at a long, multi-day convention is kind of like handing them a bottle of water on an island.

Power-PadAs far as promo items go, something you can actually use (and reuse) is king. USB drives are so popular for this reason. On top of being a cool tech gift, they can hold whole multimedia presentations within their data store. However, they don’t charge your cell phone (at least, not yet). If you don’t think your name, number, and company logo will cut it, a power bank can be paired with a PowerPad, Sunrise Packaging’s exclusive packaging designed especially for power banks. Hardcover look with a soft-touch feel, the PowerPad offers an extra visual presentation to your custom power bank. Include product images, infographics, or even sample textures!

Let’s be honest: all products–even promotional ones–need presentation packaging. With all the giveaways at trade shows and conventions, the competition to be remembered is steep. You can always use an edge.

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