Posted on June 30, 2021 by Michael Boik

Colorful DTC Shipping Boxes

Ink color is an often-discussed topic among our customer base. Many people who are new to the process of custom printed boxes may assume that boxes come in different colors. “Can I get that box, but in blue?” This is a common variance of a question we receive nearly every day. Or, “Do you have any red boxes we can see?”

The reality is that every box you see on our gallery or anywhere else on our site started as either a white box, or kraft (brown) box. Your options at the start are always any combination of these. Either white or brown board inside and/or outside. So when you see a blue or red or pink box etc., it was almost certainly a white box to start, as white is the best surface to print bright colors and flood coat prints.

Classic black or white prints on kraft board can be very popular and portray an eco-friendly message to your customers, but one way to really stand out among a crowded DTC space is to add bright color that pops. Colorful DTC shipping boxes can be very effective branding, and we create them every single day. A little insight into that process is explained below.

The Ink Color Process

Step 1 is always to select an ink color. While this can be done a number of ways, providing us with a PMS number code is typically the most popular, and certainly the best way of ensuring the order is not delayed. Once we have a PMS number, we order ink swatch samples to mail to you and review in person so that there are no surprises before we go to production.

Another alternative is to send us a physical item to match the color. Paper products are ideal, such as pamphlets, fliers, brochures or books where we can send to our ink supplier to try to attempt to match the color and produce a sample swatch. This could take several days to a week or more to do, however, especially with all of the mailing back and forth that is involved in this process, and keep in mind there will never be an exact match, given the different inks and substrates involved.

Understand that there is no such thing as a perfect color match when printing on a corrugated paper substrate. Many things will impact ink color, including the temperature in the plant (humidity, cold air, etc.) the board porosity, board color and recycled content, ink type (coated or uncoated) and density.

What Does Ink Cost?

There is no single answer to this question. We always tell potential customers that the difference in cost from a plain/unprinted box and a box with ink on the outside is minimal, maybe only pennies. This is because the process for us to add ink to the exterior is not drastically different from the process of cutting and producing plain boxes. It’s all done on the same line in the production. However, there is a wide range of price when it comes to inks. While it is true that most water-based inks are inexpensive, certain inks will cost more than others, and we typically won’t know this cost until we get all of the details from you. The amount of ink coverage will likely have little impact on a per box cost, but it will affect your one-time print plate costs. The heavier the ink coverage, the higher the print plate cost.

Keep in mind also that adding a second or third ink color to the exterior will add cost as well, especially if additional passes on the machine are required. And adding interior printing will increase costs by about 20-30% per unit because of the added process involved.


Please Contact Us Today

Want to know more about colorful DTC shipping boxes? As always, if you have any questions on any of our products or services, one of our branded packaging advisors is standing by to assist, with decades of experience behind them. Want to know more about custom packaging options? Please call us at 630-551-1700 or contact us via email at


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