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The Dos and Don’ts of Branded Boxes

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Promotional products are one of the best ways to connect with your audience in real life. While well-placed coffee tumblers or Bluetooth headphones will certainly turn shoppers’ heads, there’s nothing more delightful than a curated collection of products delivered to their doorsteps.

Branded boxes give companies a chance to send their audience a swath of fun, attractive, and wow-worthy products that keep the conversation going. They’re especially helpful if you serve a global audience—since you can mail a box to pretty much anyone, you can reach customers where they are. (It’s no wonder why so many brands switched to boxed experiences during the pandemic in place of events!)

But if you’ve never created a branded box before, you might wonder, “Where do I go from here? What should I do? What should I not do?”

After spending years sourcing promotional products and executing branded boxes for clients like Coinbase and Google, we know what it takes to design unique boxed experiences

If it’s high time for your brand to create its first boxed experience, be sure to mind these eight dos and don’ts.

Don’t: Send without context

You don’t send people gifts without explaining why you’re sending the present, right? It would be pretty confusing (and maybe even a little alarming) to get something in the mail from a mystery sender. The same rule holds true for branded boxes. 

If your audience didn’t ask for a branded box, you’re going to have to give context that explains the gift. Recipients are going to be wary of a box just appearing on their doorstep, so your packaging needs to explain: 

  • Who you are
  • Why you sent this package
  • What the recipient should do next

You’re creating branded boxes to forge tight relationships with your customers, so be sure to clarify and give an explanation. If you’re using paper inserts, be very careful during the packaging and shipping process; make sure those inserts are included! 

Do: Pick a theme

Themed boxes are all the rage. Not only do they help recipients get into the right mindset to use your promotional products, but they also make it way easier to pick products in the first place. 

It’s easier to pick goodies for a “Fun In The Sun” box than for a generic “Thanks For Being A Customer” box, right? 

What kind of theme would resonate with your audience? Consider cool themes like: 

  • Quirky holidays (think, National Talk Like A Pirate Day)
  • Seasons of the year
  • Fun locations, like Hawaii or Switzerland
  • Decades, like The Roaring Twenties or Neon Nineties

Don’t: Plan at the last minute

While doing a promotional product campaign with a few weeks of lead time is possible, it’s a much better idea to plan it in advance. It can take months to source the right products for your campaign—and sometimes longer if you’re looking for something more unique. 

At a minimum, it’s a good idea to plan a branded box experience at least three months before your desired sending date (more if it’s during a busy season, like a holiday). This way, you get the exact products you want without the stress of tight deadlines. 

Do: Personalize

Your customers are bombarded with generic messaging on their social media feeds and email inboxes. While a branded box will definitely stand out, you can take things a step further by personalizing your boxes. 

At a minimum, you can personalize by adding the recipient’s name to the box or printed note. You can also personalize by: 

  • Adding select items based on the person’s shopping preferences, hobbies, or attendance data
  • Customizing a product to include their name
  • Including a hand-written note

Don’t: Pick low-quality products

It’s tempting to choose lower-quality goods to make the most of a limited budget, but that approach can seriously backfire. 

72% of recipients equate the quality of a promotional product to the quality of your business. So, if they think the products are cheap, they’re likely to think your business is low-quality, too. 

When in doubt, it’s better to send a few higher-quality goods than a slew of low-quality options. You can always order product samples and see them in person first before you put in a purchase order.

Do: Print creatively

You might be doing a boxed experience, but that doesn’t mean you can’t think outside of the box! One of the best ways to create a jaw-dropping experience is to get creative with your printing. 

For many of our clients, that means printing full-color text right onto the inside of the box itself. This “inside-the-box” printing cuts down on the need for paper inserts, giving you the chance to add cheeky messages to the box. A quick “Open for magic” teaser outside the box alone will make recipients giddy. 

Aside from aesthetics, this does have a functional purpose. Creative packaging stimulates the reward-seeking areas of the brain, which can lead to impulse purchasing. So if you want recipients to take action after opening the box, colorful print is a must.

Don’t: Forget about shipping materials

You’re probably going to mail these branded boxes to recipients, which means the goods inside need to make it to their destination safely. 

If you’re mailing glass tumblers without enough padding, look out! You could accidentally send your customers a box full of broken glass, which will definitely hurt that relationship. 

Work with your shipping provider to ensure all of your products are nestled safely in the box. That might mean avoiding glass goods or perishable items—just in case. 

Do: Lean into the hype

Did you know that one in five customers have watched an unboxing video? Whether you’re working with everyday customers, employees, or influencers, lead into the hype-able side of branded boxes. Sure, you’re doing this to deepen relationships, but it’s also a great marketing opportunity. 

You can build more hype for your boxed experience through: 

  • Planning a paid influencer unboxing campaign
  • Integrating QR codes that take recipients to a digital escape room
  • Creating a contest where customers can earn more freebies by filming themselves with their swag
  • Sending boxes to media contacts 

Send your first branded box

Branded boxes allow you to connect with your audience in a way that no other marketing tactic can. Overcome the digital overwhelm and try something new: follow the dos and don’ts of branded boxes, and you’ll be a promo swag pro in no time. 

Still, we know that taking on a branded box campaign can be overwhelming, especially if you’re planning something large-scale. That’s why brands like Wingstop and PetSmart work with Boundless to Inspire Brand Love™ moments through promotional products. See how Boundless can help your brand craft powerfully practical boxed experiences.

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