Design Marketing
How to Create a Custom Box Like an Expert Designer
  by:  |  Aug 26, 2019

A custom box delivery is the most crucial stage of interaction for e-commerce businesses. Your customers are excited to receive their package—your box design simply has to build on that feeling and then either meet or exceed their expectations when their order arrives. That first impression will depend on the strength, impact, functionality, and aesthetic of your custom box design.

Designing a mailer box can be intimidating for first-time entrepreneurs and small business owners. Your expertise is operations, sales, and profit growth. But as a startup, you also want to save your resources and try to do the design work yourself.

UPrinting makes it easy for someone with zero knowledge of design to create their box’s artwork online. Our easy-to-use design tool is simple to navigate. Each icon lets you add and edit different elements that will constitute your overall custom box design.

How to Design Your Own Custom Boxes Online

You have the option to create a mailer box design online. After you’ve set up your custom box order by selecting your specs on the online calculator (interior dimensions, material, printed sides, and quantity).

Follow these five easy steps:

1. Select “Design Your Box Online” on the online calculator. The link will lead you to the online design tool, which shows how your box’s specifications appears on the design canvas.

Design your mailer box online

2. Select the area you want to design on the outside of the box. The 3D Preview shows how that area will appear when the box is folded and sealed.

Design canvas and 3D preview

3. The “Left Toolbar” is where you can add text, logos or images, background colors, shapes, and lines to each part of the box.

Left toolbar

4. The “Top Toolbar” contains the commands that let you move each element’s location on your custom box. 

Top toolbar

5. Scroll down and select “Add Inside Printing” if you want to design the inside sections of the box. The colors and shapes you add inside can complement or reveal what you place in the outer sections.

Add inside printing

8 Design Principles That Are Crucial to Creating Your Box

Non-practitioners of design tend to assume that this field is simply about making things look pretty. If you look at products with strong and purposeful design, such as Apple’s OS interface and the overall design of its products, you’ll realize that the field demands a combination of logic and empathy that keeps the user in mind.

As Reena Merchant, User Experience (UX) Manager at Google/YouTube explains in her keynote presentation at the 2016 Toronto Tech Summit:


“The focus has shifted. We’ve gone from the idea that designers simply create usable components and product designs, to the understanding that their work impacts the perception of the entire brand and customer experiences.”

We’ve gone from the idea that designers simply create usable components and product designs, to the understanding that their work impacts the perception of the entire brand and customer experiences. -Reena Marchant Click To Tweet

“Design isn’t just about making things look appealing, or just about usability, or even just delight. It is about taking products from being usable to delightful, and then beyond that — to meaningful.”


Each design element requires meaning. It must have a purpose, otherwise, it is ineffective in relaying your message and creating your intended brand perception. To properly execute a purposeful design, you need to keep in mind some basic design principles.

1. Typography

Every element on your custom box must appeal and lead your customer to the message the product or packaging will impart about your company. This begins with the text printed outside or inside your box. Its style and size should do the work for your customer.

The largest text is what you want to read immediately. The medium-sized text that follows is in support of the larger text, while the smallest sized text is lowest in priority but adds to your overall message. 

From The Detox Market

Typography isn’t just about the size of the fonts or the font you use. You also need to plan the spacing between letters, words, and sentences.  Notice how the large, bold letters in The Detox Market’s main message is easy to read in one glance.

Purposeful typography avoids these situations and keeps the customer in mind as you design the text. Click To Tweet

2. Select Purposeful and Pleasing Colors

From Pinterest

The colors you choose depend on how you want to represent the product. The choice should also align with your brand’s own design style guide. If you don’t have a specific style guide or set of colors that visually represent your brand, consider the kind of emotions you want to entice from your target market.

Pablo Picasso himself said that colors can follow the changes of emotions. Cool colors such as blue, green, and purple tend to make us feel calm. Yellow is normally seen in restaurants because of its association with food. Pink evokes romance, love, and similar feelings associated with gentleness.

Beauty company Seed to Serum sticks to pink and gold to communicate the femininity associated with skincare. The same effect is seen in the packaging of Mary Kay. Select colors that easily associate with the image your brand is projecting.

Color combinations should also be complementary or contrasting, depending on the hues you’ve narrowed down for the custom box design.

To know which colors work best together, you can refer to the color theory and the positions of each on the color wheel.
• Complementary are two colors on opposite sides of the color wheel.
• If you want to combine three similar colors, look at the ones which are next to each other on the wheel.
• You can achieve high contrast with three colors that are spaced evenly on the wheel.
• Keep it simple with a monochromatic combination based on three tones, tints, and shades of one color.

3. Leave Just Enough Space

From Ruth Xo

Most mailer boxes arrive blank or with minimal text and graphics on the outer and inner sides. But like color and text, those spaces are left blank for a reason. It emphasizes larger text or draws the customer’s eyes to your logo.

Smart use of space helps guide customers to what you want them to read, see, and understand about your brand. Designers refer to modern minimalism on how to effectively create and maximize space in the artwork.

Try applying the method of elimination to achieve a minimalist design: keep removing elements on your first design draft until you only end up with the basic, most crucial elements.

Designers refer to modern minimalism on how to effectively create and maximize space in an artwork. Click To Tweet

4. Be Playful With Patterns

From ParasolCo’s Instagram

Patterns are a fun way to add embellishment on the inside of your custom box. Create patterns that will appeal to your market. A feminine brand targeting teenagers can decorate the sides or flaps with fun, kitschy shapes such as hearts or flowers.

Diaper company Parasol keeps it simple with hearts on the outside and abstract shapes on the flap. The curve pattern is consistent and also seen on their mailer boxes. The aesthetic stays fun yet playful, like the children who will be wearing the product.

5. Design the Inside in an Interactive or Compelling Manner

From MySubscriptionAddiction

BeautyCon’s quarterly subscription box interacts with the recipient once it’s opened. There’s a personalized greeting, a phrase to keep you hooked, but directs you to the delivered products.

It also builds anticipation, not immediately presenting the products and instead gives tips on how to do the perfect unboxing. The content is targeted to its audience—beauty influencers who are likely to share their experience on Instagram.

6. Choose the Right Material

From Skylar

Mailer boxes come in white or brown corrugated cardboard. Create a design with these colors as the base. The brown corrugated cardboard is a perfect match for brands that sell natural, organic health or beauty products. The white version works for darker colors or clean, minimalist designs.

7. Take Inspiration from Vintage Designs

Most commercial brands opt for a minimalist, Scandinavian-inspired look in their product designs. You can make just as much impact with a vintage-inspired design.

Look to the extravagant script or lettering in old movie titles from the 1920s or 30s, the font style of vintage street art, and the creative typography in tin boxes that carry candy or cosmetics. All these were done by hand, so artists had more freedom and movement to decorate the letters.

Look to the extravagant script or lettering in old movie titles from the 1920s or 30s, the font style of vintage street art, and the creative typography in tin boxes that carry candy or cosmetics. Click To Tweet

8. Paint a Picture With Creative Illustrations

From Subscription Box News

Effective marketing tells a story and illustrations are a colorful, creative way to execute the rest of your brand or product’s narrative. Causebox does this with every subscription box design, as they showcase an original artwork inspired by the products offered in each delivery.

Sometimes they send out boxes designed with illustrations based on the season. Each delivery comes with a special, customized experience that makes the box worth keeping and sharing on social media. 

Start Planning Your Custom Box Today

Before you create a premium box design, you need to consider the interior and exterior size, exact materials, and the total quantity. Input your specs in our custom mailer box page before proceeding with the design. 

Have some useful advice on designing a custom box? Leave a comment below.

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Angela’s first love is food but her second love will always be the written word. She loves discovering new ways to tell stories and reads everything from YA to memoirs. Her time away from words is spent either with her three dogs or catching up on her favorite Netflix shows.