Packaging 101


The saying don’t judge a book by its cover is relevant here: your customer IS judging his or her experience of your brand by its packaging. Unique packaging, defined by your brand, is one more way to distinguish yourself in a crowded marketplace. With the rise of ecommerce and social media, the ubiquitous box has risen in stature. 

The real estate that is your box is a brand-showcasing opportunity – and what the consumer sees first – before the unboxing experience begins.

There are many types of packaging to choose from. Your choice depends on a variety of factors – what the box is used for, budget, environmental factors, design requirements and color amounts, and any product restrictions. All you have to do is decide which is best for your business.

Before you even jot down your designer packaging ideas, you need to ask yourself: What is the goal of these in-store boxes?

To help you make the right choice, we’ve put together a primer on packaging that takes you through the steps of choosing types of materials, box styles, design, branding and embellishments that create interest, drama and unforgettable brand experiences.


Your product needs to speak from the shelf, grab attention, intrigue customers, and persuade them to choose your product over the rest. That’s what a great folding carton can do—whether it’s elegantly simple or boldly innovative.

A good display box should:

  • Effectively protect your product
  • Have the potential to be reused in some way
  • Tell your customer what the product does through the use of text and graphics
  • Be easily placed and stacked on a store shelf
  • Be on brand


Paperboard (also known as cardboard) is almost what it sounds like – a thicker version of the paper we use to write on. It’s a renewable material, sourced from woodchips, and easily recycled. Corrugated is another type of box material, but for consumer-branded packaging purposes, only the thinner of corrugated boards, called micro-fluted, are used.

There are four categories of packaging materials, also called substrates, that can be printed on:

  • Bleached Paperboard (SBS)
  • Unbleached Kraft Paperboard (CUK)
  • Coated/Uncoated Recycled Paperboard (CRB/URB)
  • Micro-Flute Corrugated

Here’s an infographic to help you tell them apart: Download


Cartons are versatile packaging boxes made from folding a single sheet of paperboard that is die-cut according to a box template. Folding cartons, designed to hold only a few pounds, are primarily used for lighter product packaging. For heavier products, corrugated is the way to go.

Foldable carton packaging can be shaped into any type of design, making the possibilities for creating unique, eye-catching designs truly endless. Paperboard can be scored, folded, curved, and custom die-cut in countless ways. Adding eye-catching textures and embellishments entice the buyer to touch – and ultimately buy your product.

  • Embossing lifts type and images off the surface of the board, creating immense tactile interest
  • Hot foil stamping adds regal gold or silver elements
  • UV coatings add a lustrous, protective sheen
  • Soft touch coatings impart a rich, luxurious texture onto the paperboard
  • Windowing entices consumers with a peek at the packaged product.


Packaging comes in all shapes and sizes, can hold all kinds of goods (including liquids), are kind to the environment, and are a wonderful asset to your marketing arsenal. By combining consumer insights, an extensive substrate portfolio and coatings knowledge with robust design and printing enhancements, you can design a tailor-made solution for your brand.

At Sun Print, we understand the art of packaging and print, and use the science of touch to design a custom package that captures attention and creates a memorable brand experience. Let us know what your requirements are, and we’ll be happy to help you put together the best packaging solution for your product. We can help you save money, reduce waste, and create the best design for your brand. Contact us for a free consultation.

If you can dream it, we can package it for you.

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