Custom Boxes & First Impressions

We all have ideas for new board games. Okay, maybe not all of us. But who hasn't sat through a long game of Monopoly or Risk and thought "This game would be way better if..." After taking that first step away from a base game, it's only a few more to determine rules and objectives, maybe even moving to designing a game board (or whatever you would call the set-up for "Cones of Dunshire").  You might be ready to commission custom boxes, but hold one second.  How do you know what the box needs?

Yes, the box needs to fulfill the basic needs: holding the game contents safely and securely, providing a pleasant experience for the user, things like that. But the cost associated with custom boxes usually doesn't rise to the top of the list. It's admittedly less interesting than choosing player tokens or designing a game board. But it's arguably one of the most important parts of launching your original board game. 

Custom Boxes: Your First Quest

New ideas for board games can come from any source of inspiration. It might be, like we mentioned above, a new take on an old tradition. It could be something entirely new and original, educational or strictly fun, or any other variety of elements. But in the early planning of the game, keep in mind how this needs to be packaged. Not just from a business or marketing sense, but from a practical and logistical standpoint as well. 

custom boxes
  1. Pare down what's necessary to play the game
    From an imaginary perspective, designing an intricate game with lots of player pieces and tokens, cards and chips, might come off like a great idea. But a game doesn't need to be upward of 100 pieces to be fun (well, unless we're talking about a literal puzzle).  Think of it this way: the more pieces your game has, the more it will cost to produce, and the more it will cost in stores. Additionally, it will affect your packaging requirements. 

  2. Using your pared down model, start to think through what style of packaging is necessary
    Custom boxes need to be able to provide protection for fragile game pieces or simply provide a home for the collective pieces and board. If these pieces are heavy, then a sturdier material, like chipboard, is going to be needed. If they're breakable in any way, consider foam inserts or plastic molding trays to keep them safe. Or, if there are other things that need to be kept from rolling around (like dice), that's another kind of tray. At Sunrise, based in Minnesota, we've helped many gamemasters think through their packaging. Bring your needs to us, and we can work through them. 

  3. Make a list of the things necessary for the box
    And not just art. People who pick this thing up off the shelf want to know a little bit more, so give them a little teaser.  Provide a statement about the game and any other relevant information. Does it include small, possibly choke-able pieces for little kids? Add that a caution might be necessary.  Is there a recommended age range for the game? Add that too. Add anything that might be necessary from a legal perspective, but don't forget that this is what needs to sell customers. 

Sunrise Packaging has been helping gaming auteurs in Minnesota and beyond to create their masterpieces for decades. We know how to prevent expensive errors and miscalculations, and how to help you think through what elements your custom boxes need to be effective. Contact us today!

Custom Binders & Organizing

When I think of organization, I have to admit: custom binders do not leap to the top of my list. I'm much more likely to search for an app for organizing notes, recordings, or whatever I need on my smartphone than I am to pick up a binder. But recently, in the most unlikeliest of places,  I was reminded that some people are more tactile. 

I was watching Brooklyn Nine Nine, and the character of Amy Santiago was enjoying a new binder. 

Custom binders make some people happy

Simple Pleasures of Custom Binders

For those who don't watch the show, Amy is a somewhat Type-A detective with a penchant for organization and procedure. She's tidy, polite, and loves her binders.  Amy and her binders are something of a running gag, but there's something to the simple pleasure she receives.

In the hyper world of the TV cop show, it's understandable how something so seemingly simple can be soothing and bring calmness.  It's a small piece of sanity, a corner of control. When everything else is volatile and subject to the whims of coworkers and criminals, Amy's custom binders are 100% in her control. 

Why Bind It When You Can Scan It?

The ability to pick up and page through a binder is soothing. Users can see everything at once with just a few flips instead of searching through a smartphone. It's a conventional organization system; easy to pick up and intuit, versus someone's private devices. I know that my method of filing (or lack thereof...I prefer to tag things, then just enter a search query when I want it) isn't the same as others. Using a standard system within a binder makes it easier for the entire office to find common resources quickly and efficiently. 

Scanning/taking pictures of documents on the go is handy, but when it comes to document sharing (especially in a not-so-technology-literate organization), it can get tricky. Especially when no one wants to admit that they don't fully understand how to access something. Take the guesswork out by storing communal resources in custom binders. 

 

Options for Custom Binders

Here at Sunrise Packaging (Minnesota), we've been experimenting with some great new, more durable options for custom binders. New techniques include creating covers from a single piece of chipboard, increasing their ability to withstand pressure and the effects of time. Euro-scoring, or rounded corners, help people grasp binders more easily. It's a great option for larger documentation sets or files. Not to mention that pockets or adhesive trays can be added as well to hold discs, notepads, or anything else that could be useful. Contact us today to talk about your needs, discuss cover printing options, and more. Amy would be proud!

Luxury Brand Packaging Tips

Luxury brand packaging is one of those things that's better experienced than described. However, as one of Minnesota's premier producers of high end custom packaging, we're well-situated to take a stab at defining some of the features that make packaging feel luxurious. Custom packaging can make a sizable impression. And it's our job to make sure that it's a positive impression as a result of great design and fine craftsmanship.

The tips below, adapted from TheDieLine, discuss how to appeal to consumers and leave an impression of high-end luxury packaging. It involves appealing to the senses in unexpected--yet pleasing--ways.  It's turning the mundane into the extraordinary. And it's easier than you think.

Tips for High End Custom Packaging

Include micro-interactions
You can guide users through a delayed-gratification type of an experience through micro-interactions. Micro-interactions are unexpected surprises about a package or a box. Utilize materials in unexpected ways (especially materials that convey the luxurious quality you want to convey, like our soft touch lamination). Design points of interplay for the user and the product. Magnet closure, pull tabs, these extras surprise and delight consumers. 

luxury brand packaging

Reduce redundant hand positions
Haptic feedback helps inform luxury packaging. Believe it or not, but according to TheDieLine, redundant hand positions required to open packaging reduce perceived quality. Use one simple criterion: how easy is it to open the package? Could it be opened blindfolded, or would it require tools and complicated handiwork? It's a testament to the classic simplicity and elegance of the cigar box

luxury brand packaging

Contrast finishes
The way light interacts with colors and finishes affects how consumers perceive things. It can make the difference between a high-end box and a cheap one, or at least the perception either way. The finish should be smooth, crisp, consistent, and even. Incorporating foil stamping on a matte material is one of our favorite ways to create this kind of contrast. However, show restraint when it comes to contrasting.  Discretion and minimalism in design define understated luxury.

Gold foil stamp example on luxury brand packaging

Luxury Brand Packaging Value Perception

When all is said and done, creating luxury brand packaging is all about creating a perception of high value. By following the cues discussed, it's possible to trigger the sensory cues that say "high-end." While these are tips that help convey luxury, it's important to remember packaging basics, such as: 

  • Take measures to ensure packaging won't become warped or misshapen due to humidity, poor handling, etc.
  • Incorporate materials and finishes that are pleasing to touch. 
  • Design an opening experience worthy of an unveiling video. 

Consumers want to be thrilled. Discover ways to incorporate these types of interactions and sensations into your packaging to create something they'll love. 

DnD Custom Game Box

If you’re watching Netflix’s Stranger Things, take note: no spoilers appear below, but there is minor discussion on plot points.  The introduction to the main characters features a scene that would convey very different things just a few years ago. They’re sitting around, playing Dungeons & Dragons (or DnD).  Since the show takes place in 1983, it’s clear that they’re being depicted as classic 80’s *nerds,* so to speak. And to drive the message home, they’re also part of the AV Club, get picked on by bullies, and are general outsiders. However, with the relatively recent rise of “geek chic,” these kids are endearing through our 2016 lenses. Also, DnD is experiencing a resurgence of popularity due to all this attention. Since Sunrise Packaging is in the business of boxes, it seems appropriate to turn our attention to making a custom game box for the new wave of DnD-ers.

DnD Needs Assessment

Although online versions exist, this is a game best played in person with a group. It’s a group effort. As the OG of fantasy role playing tabletop games, the custom game box needs to be as iconic as its contents. Color schemes typically fall on the darker end of the spectrum, highlighted with fiery reds, oranges and yellows.

The party of adventurers might always meet at one person’s home, or the set might travel around. This means the box needs to be both durable and easy-to-move. Light, built in handles of some sort, but rigid and strong enough to withstand  transportation. DnD game boards usually fold up, but a custom game board might need more room to lay flat. Some kind of rigid insert might be necessary. Partially for presentation, but also to keep the pieces and dice intact. It’s kind of like using a peg board for tool organization. When they’re outlined, you know exactly which one is missing. Same goes for a custom box insert.

DnD Custom Game Box

So what have we arrived at when it comes to a custom game box, specifically for DnD?

For starters, a custom two-piece setup box is the classic game box style.* The turned edge style is also ideal for the design and strength components. Turned edge boxes are made of chipboard, which is extremely durable. It also lends itself well to a variety of wraps which can best display dynamic DnD graphics and colors. Further custom options can include foil stamped linen or embossed fibers for a slightly Medieval-like feel.

To keep the innards and gaming items in place, the set up box is perfect for multiple types of inserts. Think custom die cut foam, thermoformed tray, insider liners…the options vary as much as DnD gameplay. Add in some sort of handle and you’ve got a party in a box. Literally.

Get in touch with our sales department to start work on your custom game box!

*Did you know Sunrise Packaging has established a reputation for custom game box and game board packaging?

Cosmetic Box Review: Dior Backstage Pros Solution Set

Cosmetic box sets are usually a way to get a little more bang for your buck. Sometimes there might be exclusive shades or add-ins, or a make-up bag, or some other kind of hook for consumers. One brand that bucks this trend, especially when it comes to cosmetics, is Dior. It’s rare to see their products discounted in any way, and buying a set (like the Backstage Pros Gift Set) doesn’t save much more money than buying each product individually.

I don’t mind this, to be honest. I would rather buy shades and products that work for my skin without feeling pressured to buy a set of which I would only use half of the products. However, I am a sucker for great packaging, and the Dior Backstage Pros Solution cosmetic box is gorgeous.  It’s classy and understated, and clearly high-end. Two piece setup boxes have a rigidity and sturdiness that elevates them from something that goes out with the recycling to something in which you store keepsakes.  And that’s true even if it isn’t emblazoned with ‘Dior.’

But back to the products.

Included in This Cosmetic Box

(and with translation below):Dior luxury catwalk cosmetic box

  • Diorshow Maximizer
    “Mascara serum base, lash amplifying effect”
  • Diorshow Brow Styler in 001 Universal Brown
    “Ultra fine precision brow pencil”
  • Dior Addict Lip Maximizer in 001 Pink
    “Collagen active lip-gloss”
  • Dior Addict Lip Glow in 001 Pink
    “Color awakening lip balm”
  • Nail Glow
    “Instant French manicure/brightening effect”

Full disclosure: I wouldn’t have bought the set if it didn’t work with my skin tones, but luckily, 001 Pink is one of faves. It’s subtle and slightly plumping without being overwhelming, and it works on a variety of skin tones.

Same goes for the 001 brow styler, which gives a natural brow look.  Unlike cheaper pencils, which give off too much powder or waxiness.  Some online reviews have criticized the amount received for the price. When it comes to make-up, I’m a firm believer that quality is more important than quantity. However, I will admit to not being 100% sold on the Maximizer mascara. My eyelashes are very fine, and this tends to add more gunk than desired volume to them. It’s entirely possible I need application lessons, but this is the only product in the cosmetic box that I wouldn’t purchase on its own.

But back to a high note: Dior’s nail glow is worth every penny for ladies whose nails tend to chip otherwise. Reviews have noted the strong acetone scent, but c’mon…it’s nail polish! The shade works for my nails, leaving the nail tips looking whiter and rest slightly pink, as promised with the instant French manicure advertising. I know, I know, I didn’t believe it either, but try it out.

Cosmetic Box…Not by Sunrise (but just you wait)

This cosmetic box isn’t a product by Sunrise, but we do a pretty bang-up job with custom setup boxes. We’ll have some exciting news regarding this particular style in the next few months, too…so hold onto your seats in anticipation.

Contact a sales rep for more information!

How Binders Aid Retention

 

Custom Turned Edge Binder

Learning and Retention

Learning and retention are hot topics for any trainer, but less so for professionals whose primary role focuses on something else. Typically, the human resources department of an organization is tasked with ensuring that employees know and understand the basics of their new job as well as build on that knowledge. There are many methods to utilize when creating training materials, and far too often, organizations focus on the format in which the materials are handed out and less so on the quality of the products. This is where Sunrise's high end binders--specifically, turned edge binders--can save you from yourself.

Ideal for HR Trainings

Turned edge binders are ideal for HR trainings for a few reasons. When an employee wants or needs information on something specific, they're unlikely to access an elearning module, search through it for the information they want, and come away from it with a positive outlook. However, being able to grab a quality binder and quickly flip to the information does. Turned edge binders also provide a tactile experience, which for some learning styles, is more effective to help employees retain information. This isn't to say that a hard cover binder should replace elearning modules or more interactive formats. But a binder to supplement and complement information is always a plus. Some things which HR departments need to consider when creating materials include these facts about adult learning:

  1. Adult learning is autonomous
    Adults are old enough to make their own decisions, right? So when learning, they need to feel the freedom to make their own choices. This is where giving them the option to skip and return to modules as well as go at their own pace (electronically or via the turned edge binders) is an important aspect to training.
  2. Incorporating knowledge and life experiences increases retention
    Being able to connect past experiences and knowledge base with new things helps things *stick*. Trainings which can pull out relevant experiences not only interest attendees (because they can relate) but also helps them frame the knowledge.
  3. Keep things goal-oriented
    Building on the previous two tips: in order to keep employees on task and engaged through their experiences, it's important that lessons have a goal or have a clear outcome. In order to maximize the learning potential, it's important to set timeframes for completion. Coupled with the clear outcomes, this helps employees stay on schedule. However, modules with known timings can make people nervous, which might be an unfair representation of their skillset. Providing hard cover binders alongside an e-module turns into an open-book test of sorts, which eases anxiety.
  4. Learning should be relevant and practical
    No one likes to feel like their time is being wasted, right? And that's hardly the impression you want to make on a new employee. Make it clear how these lessons tie in to their productivity or ability to do their job better. Additionally, using examples which help ground theoretical concepts helps enhance understanding.

But why turned edge binders?

Sunrise has many types of binders, but we love turned edge. They have a (literal) longer shelf life since they tend to be more durable. The customization is also higher than other styles, as the covers can be printed digitally or offset to match your organization's branding. Add ins, like pockets and adhesive trays, also increase their functionality.

What type of training does your organization provide? And how much did you remember a week after it was over? I bet you wish you had a binder.

 

Ann Sachs Turned Edge Binder

Nifty Netbox PopUp Palettes

In honor the recent release (and soon-to-be sold out) Urban Decay Through the Looking Glass eye shadow palette, I decided to revisit the original Alice in Wonderland palette (though note that these are not Sunrise products). What I love about these palettes is, first and foremost, the eye shadow selection. Urban Decay is super pigmented without feeling heavy or weighty, making it easy to vary the intensity. Secondly, the packaging for these palettes is always fun and interesting. The magnetic closure, or netbox, as Sunrise calls them, adds an interesting element. It helps ensure that what lies beneath that top flap stays secure and accessible for days to come. The drawer feature is one of my favorite features. It’s great to pull it out, see all the colors at once, and formulate your blending plan.

alice in wonderland netbox urban decay

Courtesy of Urban Decay

Alice in Wonderland vs. Through the Looking Glass Netbox

The obvious precursor to Through the Looking Glass. The original Alice palette netbox takes obvious inspiration from the original illustrations for Alice in Wonderland. Whimsical mushrooms swirl around the mirror in the pop up portion, the caterpillar looms over Alice, and it’s basically a must-have for literary Alice memorabilia fans and collectors. This was one of the first palettes for which I popped the $60, and the one that made me a convert.

As one of those people, the fact that there are no original shades in this palette isn’t as much of a bummer as it would be others.  That might sound surprising, but Urban Decay is notorious for re-purposing older shades in palettes. But it can be frustrating, so it pays to do your research prior to investing in a palette. From a purely financial standpoint, it’s a steal to get 16 eye shadows, two mini eyeliners, and a mini primer potion for that price. Buying each individually would run around $200. Granted, these are smaller than you would buy individually, but still it’s still a better deal.

through the looking glass urban decay netbox

Photo courtesy of Bustle.com

On the other hand, Through the Looking Glass makes up for it. With 20 new shades and a great design, this netbox delivers in more ways than one. One frequent offenses of the pop-up palettes is that they tend to skew toward the glittery-shimmery side of things, but there’s a good amount of matte shades for change. Another deviation in this palette is the organization of colors. They’re organized into columns according to character. Depending on how creative you are, this might make blending easier or feel limiting. I tend toward the former.

What’s your favorite palette and why?

The Power Bank Cometh

blog3

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.

Sleeve Box Means New Opportunities for Luxury Packaging

 

Sunrise Packaging custom sleeve box

Innovative box design doesn’t just mean a cool way to open up. Innovation also means making luxury packaging more cost-effective, so that products big and small can enjoy upscale value.

And in the case of our new sleeve box, it’s all of the above.

Believe in the Sleeve

The sleeve box is another example of hybrid packaging. Unlike custom pads that are a hybrid of box and book, the sleeve box is more like a hybrid of materials.

This custom piece opens like a matchbox. That retro slide action delivers elegance right from the start. Something familiar, but with a twist. The outer O-sleeve is made of SBS paperboard. Paperboard is lightweight, foldable, and extremely customizable. A pure canvas for crisp digital printing if there ever was one. But possibly it’s most-celebrated feature is the price. Printed paperboard is much more affordable than chipboard and transfers images better than corrugated. Chipboard is still the sweetheart of presentation packaging, but an SBS alternative keeps the cost per unit substantially lower.

sunrise packaging_sleeve box with sbs paperboard sleeve custom made sleeve boxes

But the sleeve box also utilizes the stability of chipboard for its inner tray, giving your custom packaging the heft of luxury. Since the tray is rigid, it is available with all the trappings of an upscale presentation piece. Turned edges, custom wraps, embossing, debossing, even foil stamping. Of course, this also means a perfect fit for custom inserts; a thermoformed tray or die cut foam padding. A little more security never hurt, right?

What this new custom box design means is even more products can get the luxury treatment. Upscale packaging is a must for retail, but for lower-priced products it can be hard to justify. With a sleeve box’s lower cost, items like flash drives, thank-you cards and invitations, and confections can have the same shelf appeal as fine jewelry.

How a Custom Wrap Affects Customers

SoftTouch


The heart (or maybe the skin) of luxury packaging is the custom wrap material. From plain paper adorned with digital print to exotic textures and patterns meant to replicate snakeskin or cheetah spots, the appearance of a box is first and foremost the eye-catcher. I like to think of the custom box material as the first line of advertising. If you can’t stand out on the shelf, how are you going to compete at the brick and mortars?

Tactile and Tactical

If the look is the first line, the feel of custom packaging is the second. But this tactile phase in the retail battle is arguably the most important. There’s something about actually holding a product that really turns things up to 11.

I used to work at a big-chain retail store. We’d often had “contests” which were more like daily sales goals for a specific product. If it was some sort of plush or pillow, I knew it was game over. All I had to do was hand the product to somebody, let them walk around the store with it, and by checkout time, they just had to buy it. Why? Because you just can’t help grow attached to something you’re holding onto. But if you don’t have a sales floor extraordinaire like myself hoisting your product into the empty arms of consumers, then you have to go for the next best thing: the two-punch combo of attractive and tactilely-pleasing packaging. The custom box that you just have to pick up, and that you just can’t put down.

Sure, it all boils down to the product within, but you can’t deny the power of a first impression. It’s just as true for luxury packaging, if not moreso.

Packaging manufacturers are always looking for the next big trend in materials, textures, wraps, and designs. And we love a good challenge. The old “form follows function” has given us some very distinct/cool/practical/innovative box designs. But inventing a texture is even trickier. A recent story from Packaging Europe tells the tale of a how a company’s request for a very specific paper lead one of the oldest paper mills to create one of the newest trends in packaging.

Are You Swayed by Suede?

James Cropper, a “luxury paper” company, was asked by Spain-based LOEWE to create a paper with a feel of suede for their new product packaging. Carvetian Suede–so named for James Cropper’s historical stomping ground–is a textured paper that mimics the feel of suede. Not only does it feel like the classy material, but it improves upon it by being biodegradable. James Cropper uses at least 40% recycled materials to create this exotic custom wrap.

Carvetian Suede custom wrap material by James Cropper

Maybe you don’t have to wrap your box in suede, but the lesson here is to always be mindful of your product packaging. The luxury in “luxury packaging” shouldn’t be mistaken for frivolous or exorbitant. What it’s really about is showing your customers you believe in your product, that you value it. And, perhaps more importantly, that they will too.

Image: jamescropper.com