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Putting Clients in the Driver’s Seat

By Nara Skipper

July 12, 2020

“As we pull up to our house, my daughter looks out the car window and sees a bright teal package sitting on our front steps. She says, “My book club was delivered!” There is a rush of excitement, and the box gets opened. She picks out the books she would like to keep, and we’ll send the rest back in the same branded box. This particular subscription model charges only what you keep and includes free returns. The color of the box is eye-catching, and it’s been designed to open and close easily for returns. It’s a sturdy box, clearly chosen for holding heavy books. It is a simple scene that reminds me of the power of a branded box. The options for purchasing goods and services are endless. We’re bombarded with deliveries, in both homes and businesses. There is never a day I don’t see a UPS or FedEx truck driving through our neighborhood. In the past few decades, e-commerce has gone from nonexistent to a multibillion- dollar industry with an estimated 2.05 billion digital buyers worldwide in 2020. Businesses are looking for ways to change their packaging so it stands out against others, but they want to do so without sacrifices. If brands are unsure how to combine quality packaging with brand recognition, how can boxmakers help them make smart decisions? Our company, CompanyBox, has two channels of operation. One follows the well-established model of a traditional box plant. The other is completely digital. When we decided to take packaging design online, we knew there would be some new challenges. Face-to-face interactions were minimal. We had entered a new world, in which we were selling custom packaging to e-commerce companies using our digital capabilities. There are five main goals we focus on, though it could be argued these goals can be applied across any packaging channel. They are: (1) maintain client brand control; (2) keep quality consistent; (3) deliver high speed; (4) offer accessible creative freedom; and (5) give nearly unlimited sizing options for true customization.

Brand Control

What we hear from our clients is that the No. 1 priority is brand control. It’s important not only to invest the time to understand their color palettes and typefaces, but also to know that brands want to create something that people can trust. Trust requires absolute consistency, and packaging is no different. It’s crucial to ensure that every interaction with a brand, whether physical or digital, embodies the same messaging, logo, and design elements. The teal box my daughter recognized had been on our doorstep twice before that. Her expectations were set as soon as she saw it.


It’s that consistency that we are constantly striving for. Boxmakers must be sure to deliver the same quality each time. Without it, we fail to help our customers ensure positive brand recognition. Digital printing especially requires extra attention to specific colors. Pull test sheets to examine colors and ensure they are being accurately hit.


Like most people, I have become accustomed to the speed of e-commerce. Shop on Amazon and expect a delivery in two days or less. Order from a local grocery store for same-day pickup. The Amazon “Prime effect” has upped the ante, but people seem to forget the custom aspect of our business, as we’ve seen this expectation trickling into the packaging industry. Clients call and ask whether they can have their custom boxes by the end of the week. Offering swift turnarounds is something that digital printing affords us, but we all must tread the line between speed and consistency carefully. A well-built workflow is worth its weight in gold. Speed without sacrificing quality and consistency is the end goal.

Customizing Creativity and Sizing

The race has started, and e-commerce brands are jockeying for position. They want to be in the forefront of our minds when it’s time to shop. What makes a package unique, and how can brands take complete ownership of their packaging? This was the question that started our journey to make packaging accessible to everyone. We wanted to offer online editing tools for those who were not necessarily trained in graphic art. Those same clients should be able to adjust box dimensions to perfectly fit their products, without needing a background in structural engineering. Packaging suppliers can offer complete customization, but it should be accompanied by guidelines or professional consultation. First-time clients might not know which font size works best, how much bleed to include, or what the preferred image resolution is. Smart decisions are needed. When CompanyBox took the design process online, one challenge we had to overcome was finding a way to ensure a successful outcome for each of our clients. Built-in algorithms require users to enter only those dimensions that ensure a box will fold correctly. Dropdown menus put an end to text being too small or pixelated to read. The user has all of the design power, but with the option to “phone a friend.” Whether through phone calls, emails, or online chat, it’s critical to offer a direct connection to a knowledgeable customer service team. Beyond that, graphic designers and structural engineers must be challenged to make sure only the very best version makes it to the printer. It’s about being willing to innovate and having an open mind. It is true, smart decisions are needed, but without some form of support, clients are left to walk it alone. Our five goals work for us—clients are happy, package suppliers are successful, and there are more unique and amazing packages on people’s doorsteps. Consider implementing a framework of your own to achieve the absolute best results.

Nara Skipper is social media manager at CompanyBox. She can be reached at