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Custom Packaging Manufacturer for Younger or Start-up Brands: Where to look for and for what?




The internet is packed with packaging manufacturers telling customers how to choose the best custom box manufacturer. There are lists and explanations of what the customer should be looking for and how the company can meet those explained needs. From the ease of ordering to the availability of in-house graphic designers to the variety of materials and processing techniques, these articles inform the customer about everything they could technically need from a packaging manufacturer. 

Though this array of articles is no doubt very informative about the objective skills and capabilities of packaging vendors, almost none are there to offer insights for younger or start-up brands. 

A brand’s packaging can be one of the pillars of its success. Not only can the brands elevate their image and the customer’s initial response to the product simply by packing their products in beautiful custom boxes, but they can also ensure the safety of their products throughout the supply chain.  

Such a boost in the brand’s image and reduction in possible damages are critical for small brands that already do not have big marketing and contingency budgets. 

That is in no way to say that the packaging will cover up for a disappointing product. As a brand, developing a quality product is the most critical branding step that you can take. 

However, it is still important to understand that packaging is an extension of the product itself and can contribute value to the overall brand equity. 

It is not uncommon for customers to say that “the product was okay, but the packaging was gorgeous”. 

It’s possible that in the absence of that gorgeous packaging, the overall customer satisfaction with the package would fall and turn the review into, “I was so disappointed to receive my parcel”. 

Experienced marketers and brand strategists understand the importance of packaging as a product’s extension. This is the reason why larger companies with big marketing budgets develop teams that focus on packaging design and engineering. 

Smaller teams such as start-ups or smaller-sized brands, who certainly don’t have the budgets and perhaps not as much packaging experience, can always reach out to custom packaging manufacturers instead of having an in-house team. 

While several organizations provide custom packaging solutions smaller brands must choose someone who will care for your brand as they care for it. 

That is precisely the problem with packaging companies that are focused on showcasing only their technical and operational prowess. Many businesses approach clients from a transactional perspective, looking at the profitability indicators as the bottom line of their business relationships. 

Of course, business profitability is what we are all here for, but approaching the same issue with more humanness makes everything more worthwhile. 

Younger brands with relatively less experience can use that touch of humanness. We have tried to organize this abstract concept and arranged it into gentle guidelines that smaller to medium-sized brands and follow when searching for a custom packaging manufacturer to partner with. 

Here’s what you can look out for. 


You need your custom packaging manufacturer to operate like your brand’s ally. It is therefore of the utmost importance that that ally is of a positive, growth-oriented, and collaborative mindset. 

Not just the person dealing with you directly but the overall team under him/her should be able to support your project when needed and the most important indicator of this is the attitude of the people in the team. 

Take the initial few conversations to get to know the vendor by asking general questions such as:

  • How long have you been doing this?
  • Why do you enjoy working as a packaging manufacturer?
  • What does your team do for fun?
  • Which designer will be working on my project and can I have a brief conversation with him/her? 

These may seem irrelevant but remember, you’re looking for a business ally – someone who will support your growth as most likely your brand will always need a packaging partner. Become aware of the customizability of the business relationship according to the business’s needs. 

The team with the right attitude, who is most likely to be accommodating to your business’s needs and in processes of conflict management is the one for you. 


It has to go without saying that if you’re going to purchase custom packaging for your up-and-coming brand, the packaging manufacturer should be able to provide you with all of the market competitive facilities. 

Make a note of the following:

  • Materials for box construction

There is a wide range of base materials that are used for packaging for example cardstock, corrugated paperboard, and duplex board. The final selection of materials will depend on the type of box and printing that your product and shipping process requires. So to choose the right packaging material, have your business’s needs and wants ready. 

Discuss these needs with the potential packaging partner and make note of the materials they offer. 

  • Materials and techniques for box inserts 

Custom packaging inserts are as important as the box itself because they not only keep the product safe from the inside but also affect the presentation of the products – making them important components for building a positive brand image. 

Custom packaging inserts have a world of their own and a more comprehensive explanation about their types, sizes, materials, and uses can be found here. 


Digital and Offset printing techniques 

There is no branded packaging with printing and printing can be done through different techniques, each with its use. There is flexographic printing, gravure printing, offset printing, and digital printing amongst others. 

Within the paper packaging industry, however, offset and digital printing are the most popular. 

Offset printing gives vibrant results with low per-unit cost but is more expensive and time-consuming to set up. 

Digital printing on the other hand leads to less vibrant results and higher costs for higher volumes but, takes almost no time or cost to set up. 

The choice eventually will depend on your packaging requirements however the packaging manufacturer you choose must have both facilities available. 


If you’re looking for branded packaging, you can either choose to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond. 

That is, you can either choose to work with a relatively smaller-sized custom packaging manufacturer where you will be important for the growth and profitability of the vendor’s team, or you can choose to be a client of a giant organization where you will be one of the many customers who by themselves are unable to pursue the business policies and procedures in place. 

These policies and procedures are extremely critical to keep larger-sized organizations going because quite literally their smooth functionality depends on it. This means that two large-sized organizations would work quite well with each other. 

But this also means that flexibility and personalized service from a vendor are a massive advantage for smaller brands whose policies and procedures are still under construction is a massive advantage. 

As a guideline, choose a custom packaging manufacturer whose size matches that of your organization. You will be able to understand each other much more and grow together. With similar levels of incentives that you brand each other, both organizations will be willing to put their best foot forward. 


The competition in every business sector of the world is intense. Providing the needed and paid-for service to a customer has become the bottom line and to stand out from the competition, vendors must offer value-added services. When looking for a reliable custom packaging manufacturer, analyze the value-added services being offered. These can include the following:

  • Free worldwide shipping 
  • Free design consultation and support 
  • Add-ons for custom packaging solutions such as foiling, embossing, UV protection, lamination finishing, etc. 
  • Free or discounted offers for repeat orders 

While these offers might not mean a lot to bigger brands with deep pockets, for businesses who are striving for every opportunity to increase their profitability, such value-added services can make a huge difference. 



How a business is conducted says a lot about the respect it gives to its customers, how confident they are about its products, and what is their overall attitude when it comes to business transactions.  

Looking for packaging manufacturers who have friendly policies such as:

  • Round-the-clock design/customer service support 
  • Ability to claim a refund if you as a client have a genuine complaint against the packaging delivered. 
  • Lead times and the ability of the packaging manufacturer to meet the promised deadlines. 
  • Attitude of the vendor when changes need to be made to an existing order. 

Rounding up 

Choosing a partner in your young and aspiring business can be daunting, to say the least. But it can have a huge impact on the operations and success of your organization so the right vendor must be selected especially for something such as custom packaging that will be an extension of your product. 

The best way to make such a decision is to humanize it. Look at the many packaging manufacturers from the perspective of someone with whom your business will have a long-term relationship. What kind of a partner will your business enjoy and thrive with? 

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Custom Packaging Manufacturer for Younger or Start-up Brands: Where to look for and for what?


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