Logo Boxes Printing Options for Every Budget

Amanda Pharis -

Your Branding in Print

Every package is a tiny advertisement for your business. Before you begin researching packaging and customizing options, ask yourself: Do I want my product to be associated with a particular look and feel? What kind of branding do I want for my company? What’s our budget? Once you know what you're looking for, there are many ways to incorporate your brand into your shipping boxes.

Consider why color ink may not be the best option for your brand.

If your brand is colorful and vibrant, you may have found disappointment in muddy, desaturated results from printing on corrugated cardboard before. Avoiding color can be a great way to not only cut costs, but create a neutral shell for a color explosion once your customer opens the box. Clever black graphics can prepare the user for a surprise and increase social engagement with your organization while remaining on brand. It’s not just about designing a sexy box, it's also about how easily your box can be read by logistic processes. If your serial numbers, barcodes or QR codes are crisply printed and legible, your package will have an easier time during shipping and handling. 

So many ways to print a box - what fits your needs? 

Flexographic, “Flexo”, and lithographic, “litho”, printing are the most common print processes for large quantity runs of boxes. The cost of these print plates are part of the tooling, unique to your specific print job. Once your print plate has been tooled, there can be no further changes or edits made to the design as that would require a new plate. In the event your artwork or box printer provider changed, you would have to invest in all new tooling for each box design. Of the two more popular options, Flexo plates will last longer and print more boxes in a lifespan than a litho print, as lithographic printing is only made for one-off runs. Lithographic printing may incur a setup fee for each run. Either option are more expensive than digital printing. 

Digital printing allows for a wider range of printing effects and can be edited and revised without the major tooling costs, but may still have graphics tooling that goes to the box manufacturer before being sent to the digital box printer for your graphics or branding. Digital printing also creates opportunities for color-matching hell. Working with PMS colors can help maintaining brand specifics throughout the printing process, but different box substrates or finishes will affect the final printed product and can create variation from box to box. 

Coatings: Aqueous, Soft, UV - oh my! 

Most shipping boxes don’t use coatings, but higher-end brands or boxes that are guaranteed to be in certain environments or designed for cold storage may choose a coating for their boxes. Aqueous, soft touch, or UV are more expensive and have to run slower through printers for adequate drying or curing to prevent smudges and smears. The overall material, added production time, and logistical overhead associated with coatings can drastically increase your box cost without adding much value to the typical shipper.  

Ink color and base

Water and oil-based inks are standard, and cost less than alternative ink bases like soy and algae. While alternative inks are more expensive due to factory availability, ink is a small fraction of the overall cost, making the bump in unit cost relatively low.

Each color has its own print plate, so the more colors you have in your design, the higher your tooling cost will be. The number of colors is also directly correlated to the amount of ink required and the amount of setup time and labor involved.

Factories will already have CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) ink on hand, pre-mixed. Pantone colors (PMS) on the other hand, have to be custom mixed, so they're more expensive. If you're printing CMYK, some colors (especially oranges and purples) may be hard to recreate precisely and will require a custom PMS ink for an exact match. 

FYI Using specialty inks like white, metallics and neons are going to be more costly because the ingredients are more expensive and production is less available or requires craft skills to manufacture. 

Graphic detail

Box print production isn’t as conducive to intricate print details as regular digital printers you would find in your home office. Detailed designs may require machines with more precise print capabilities that are only available at a handful of factories. The cost, upkeep, and demand of these machines can increase your print cost and create inconsistent print results. 

Why black ink for your branding

Using black ink has several benefits for shipping packaging. It's more environmentally friendly, as black ink is less energy-expensive to print than color. Black ink also ensures crisp, easy-to-read prints for consistent branding and product quality while saving money. Our printing process reduces waste and economically distributes ink to use less material and less energy. We recycle everything as we aim to create a zero-waste process.