January 30, 2014

Think Outside the Box with Boxes

Think Outside the Box with Boxes

There’s nothing more exciting than a good, sturdy box! Okay – so there are tons of things more exciting than boxes. Hourglass shapes, for one. Winning lottery tickets.

Regardless, boxes can be used successfully in a huge variety of creative packaging design concepts – even ones that don’t initially seem to merit a box shape. It’s only a question of malleability, desire and proper engineering.

We recently worked on an exciting new beverage that delivers all of the nutrients and deliciousness of a crisp salad without requiring any strenuous chewing. It’s called Salad Power, and we’re very excited by both the product and our concept. It’s a soft-edge box shape that can still be fitted into a standard cup holder, and the labeling conveys a crispness that is both bold and appropriately fresh. Really, don’t dew-spattered vegetable graphics just make you want to eat healthier and maybe frolic on a rolling green countryside? That’s what we were doing during the entire development phase.

Anyway, box shapes are tremendously useful to the designer and manufacturer. Here are a few reasons why:


We all know boxes, we all understand boxes; no one is taken aback or offended by a box. Powers of association are extremely important to consumer appeal – gifts come in boxes, after all. Foods — particularly fresh foods — that are packaged in boxes tend to seem more luxurious, better prepared and more conscientiously developed.


Boxes are geometrically easier to store and shelve. This is appealing to everyone who matters – retailers, shippers and consumers. When we can stack things in our cabinets or freezers in an orderly and easy-to-grab fashion, our inner Martha Stewarts are satisfied.

Visual Interest

A box in a sea of bags stands out, doesn’t it? When the consumer is able to distinguish your product more or less instantly, you’ve already satisfied the most important packaging design goal: giving the product shelf appeal.

No one wants to scrutinize a store shelf for a product for longer than necessary. By giving your package a distinctive shape, you’re pushing your product to the head of the line. Don’t give the consumer the opportunity to study other competing products – when a customer has to look up and down a store shelf for several minutes before finding your product, the chances that he or she will find something else and buy that instead increases tremendously.

And by the way, boxes don’t have to be squares.

Who says a box must be a standard square shape? Boxes can be hexagons, canisters, hearts, kidneys, spleens – anything that has a lid and a hollow storage unit can qualify as a box. Play around!


The supply chain tends to be dangerously overlooked by novice designers. The product must remain in the same condition it was in at the manufacturer’s once it arrives in stores or fulfillment centers, and package design is a huge part of determining whether it does or not. Boxes, since they can be packed, palletized, and shipped in a structured and stable way, give products the support they need to survive transport. It is extremely cost effective, since more units can be loaded onto a single pallet, and fewer units will be lost to damage.


Who doesn’t love a lovely box? Boxes that are well constructed and beautiful to look at won’t be discarded once the product is used – people use them for storage and crafts. Hat boxes have historically been used and reused for non-hat purposes, and are routinely sold on eBay without hats even being inside. Wouldn’t you love to design a package that is loved and desired independently of the product it houses?

Although it might seem as though we’re the newest representatives for the Global Box Council (if such a body exists), we’re only championing boxes in creative packaging design because they have so much to offer. We realize that the much overused expression for original thought commands us to abandon boxes, but we say: get right back inside that box, sir, and start a’thinking!


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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