From brand to boxes!

Using colour and design to plan, organise and categorise

At the time of writing I’m in the process of carefully packing up our belongings to relocate to our new home ready for all that it has in store for us. It has come with its challenges. Not only from the lengthy formalities of the process, but also in the various decision making and maintaining good wellbeing. For example, sorting through which belongings make us happy and fit the vision for our lifestyle moving forward, and which ones it is time to let go of for a new lease of life. It’s also bit of a balancing act trying to keep as much of a sense of normality in our home before the big move, whilst also preparing in advance so that the last few days go smoothly.

Project management 

I’m adept at project managing for my clients; keeping everyone involved (from the client, their team through to the web developer, printers or marketing specialists) up-to-date and clear on the design and brand direction, and any next steps to ensure the process steadily progresses. So from the very start of the process of moving house I wanted to similarly keep everything as organised and as ‘stress free’ as feasibly possible.

‘Moving house is most definitely one of the most stressful things you can do in life’, in particular; the parts you have no control over, and the feeling of being in limbo for what seems to be unending lengths of time.

However, it also has its moments of excitement! I can’t wait to pick up the keys and start putting our ideas into action gradually over time, to make our new house a welcoming space that feels like us and our home again.

Packing boxes

Early on we sourced some second-hand boxes to make a start on the task of packing. Reusing and repurposing materials I’ve collected over the years as packing material. I have to admit that I am a bit of squirrel when it comes to seeing the potential of things. I store them away with the determined idea that they will, one day, come in handy. (Which was finally proved right!)  🙂

Understandably, these boxes were already marked and identified for another person’s home – detailing the contents and the rooms that each box was designated for. These were all hand written in thick black marker pen, along with the pre-printed check boxes for each possible room in a bold black sans-serif typeface in all-caps on one side of the box, along with the packaging company’s branding, call to action, and additional helpful markings for tape placement, ‘this way up’ and ‘fragile’. There’s a lot of information already on each box.


First and foremost, we needed a way we could mark each side of the box that would be readily identifiable as to the room it is destined for, no matter how it is stacked. It also needed to stand out from all the other information already on the box. As a creative, my mind never really switches off and I adapted the approach I use for creating brand resources and touchpoints for clients.

So for example, I was considering questions like:

  • What information needs to be communicated?
  • How does the item need to be used/ what’s the objective?
  • Who needs to understand it?
  • How we could effectively simplify the information?

Keeping it simple and organised

The best way to simplify and stand out? Colour and Design.

  • Simple graphic marks; identifiable as our own so that they stand out from the rest of the information already present on the boxes
  • The use of colour; to help categorise and navigate as to which room the boxes belong

Colour: I assigned each room a colour. Using a colourful array of brush marker pens to add a big spot of one selected colour on each box:

  • Hot colours for rooms downstairs (yellow / red / orange / brown)
  • Cool colours for the rooms upstairs (blue / green / purple)

This will allow us, our movers and helpers, to instantly identify which boxes go where so that they can be placed in the right room, ready for unpacking.

Design: the colour coded ‘spot’ is housed within an arrow like roof symbol (doubling up as a ‘this way up’ symbol). Underneath this symbol is the room name, all added in black marker pen:

  • written above a line (for rooms upstairs)
  • written below a line (for rooms downstairs)

The roof arrow symbol then directly points to a brief description of the contents inside. This is also handwritten in black ink, as whilst the content is important to help us recall what is actually inside each box, this information is lower down in the hierarchy. It is not needed until we are searching for the item. First we need to know the room then can then identify the individual box.

I’m also keeping a tally of the number of boxes for each room, with a brief description on a single piece of A4 paper all beautifully colour coded – of course! 🙂 My studio currently looks set to have the most boxes so far! Though not too surprising, with all the lovely samples, resources, creative tools, folio and creative inspiration.

The experience

Whilst I’ve shared a simple metaphor with you, the packing box story highlights the vital role and impact design and colour has as part of your brand:

  • Sets you apart from the crowded market
  • Identifiable
  • Function and purpose
  • Communication
  • Enhancing the experience for all involved

It provides a glimpse inside the creative process and the design considerations that take place for each and every project. For your project to achieve its purpose and function it always needs the end result in mind. By working through this process you can substantially enhance and differentiate your brand experience for the end user, whilst effectively communicating the information that needs to be seen and understood, in order to get the response/result you both seek.

Design to tell your story.

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Becks Neale is a Dorset Designer & Brand Consultant, working alongside charities, community initiatives and purpose-led organisations to achieve a brand they love and live, by distilling their brand story.

Design to tell your story.

© inkshed design studio