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?

new_mcdonalds_product_packaging

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.

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.

Cookie Packaging Gets Customized for the Holidays

oreo colorfilled cookie packaging

It’s Monday, so let’s talk cookies!

Suppose it should be about cookie packaging. Looks like Oreo is the latest in the lineup to give their packaging a dose of customization. In fact, they’re putting YOU in the driver seat.

Just in time for the holidays, the infamous sandwich cookie has rolled out a new line of Colorfilled packaging designed by New York-based artists Timothy Goodman and Jeremyville. The current designs are heavily pop art-inspired, quite literally filled to the brim with stylized seasonal goodness. As far as colors go….you get to pick them! That’s right, the packaging is customized on the spot. Want Santa to have a blue beard? Then Merry Christmas to you! Add little accessories like winter hats and scarves, fun phrases with classic cookie at the center, and even personalize it with your message.

say something sweet custom oreo cookie packaging

When your design is complete, you can actually get it made and filled with Oreos. The custom package holds 14.3 ounces of creme-filled bliss. That’s almost a pound of cookies! For craftier cookie lovers, the packaging also comes in simple black-and-white (much like the cookies themselves) with a set of markers to be colored in by the recipient. Mad props if you can color the whole bag before opening it.

Munchies aside, the packaging is beautiful, unique, and personalized making a bag of Oreos an even better gift idea. (Even if it’s a gift to yourself.)

Custom gift boxes and personalized retail packaging is an important aspect to remember this time of year. The attention these boxes draw is marketing that you cannot afford to miss out on. Not to mention it makes whatever’s inside that much sweeter. In the case of the new Oreo packaging, truer words have never been spoken. But presentation pieces like it are always the smart (and stylish) choice for packaging upscale products.

Images: shop.oreo.com

The Story of Little Cloud Nine


Sunrise Packaging is more than just a box manufacturer. From start to finish, we can bring your product to life. Our unique facility, consolidated with a variety of machinery and tools from several walks of manufacturing, coupled with our mission to be the most complete fulfillment house around, makes this shop truly one-stop. We pride ourselves on planning the interior and exterior. Custom inserts and outer decor. If you need personalized flash drives preloaded with data to complete your launch kit, we can do it! Custom mailers for shipping? No problem!

But did you know we might even be able to help create your product itself?

 

steve and jan diemer_inventor of the little cloud nine travel pillow

 

Such is the case for one Steve Diemer. If you don’t know him by his name, you probably know him by his product. Steve is the inventor of Little Cloud Nine™ travel pillow and we were lucky enough to get to pick his brain about it.

 

 

little cloud nine travel pillow in useWhat is story behind your product?


“Little Cloud Nine ™ was a travel pillow idea born years ago while I was in agony on a coach-class seat somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. Since then it’s been tested, refined and tested again. With the Little Cloud Nine ™ travel pillow, you can rest and relax in an amazingly comfortable sitting position, keeping your head, neck, and spine aligned. Our vented support cushion is reusable, inflates and deflates quickly, and stores flat in a purse or carry-on bag. Little Cloud Nine™ can be used on planes, trains, buses, cars and any other preferred mode of transportation. Little Cloud Nine™ makes a great gift for your traveling friends. Make your coach seat feel like first class with Little Cloud Nine.”

How was Sunrise Packaging able to assist in bringing the Little Cloud Nine™ to life?

 

“My product needed special welding of an inflatable material and I was stymied by not having anyone with the know how to put my product together. I called the company that makes the specialized welding equipment and asked if they would give me the name of someone who used their equipment and was good at it. The company spokesman did not hesitate. He said Rod Herdina, Sunrise Packaging, Blaine Mn was the best he knew. I called Rod and asked if he would see me and take a look at the idea. He was most gracious and invited me to come and see him. We had made several mockups and he was able to visualize how a cylindrical shape could be made using materials impervious to air. Without Rod Herdina and Sunrise Packaging it is doubtful my product would have made it to market.”

little cloud nine sbs paperboard packagingWow! Thanks, Steve! That’s high praise!

From the early stages of Steve’s design, Sunrise was there working with him from the initial concept. We used RF sealing to create the actual pillow. RF, or radio frequency, sealing uses high frequency electromagnetic energy to bond materials. In the case of the travel pillow, it was a medical grade flocked plastic that we sourced just for his product.

 

That’s right, we didn’t just packaging his product, we made it! Of course, in the end, we used our specialties–logo silkscreening and sbs paperboard packaging–to finish the job all under one roof!

You can struggle with concept planning, you can search for mockup artists, you can bounce around from manufacturer to manufacturer trying to all the pieces in place–or you can put in a call to Sunrise Packaging. We get the job done from start to finish.

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