Softbox Package Design

“Not Just Another Box”

Steve Jobs once famously said: “Packaging can be theater. It can create a story.” And from looking and shopping around (waving to the cereal aisle), there’s no questioning he was absolutely right. Which is why we were so excited to put this theory to work during our latest design project for Softbox.
A client that sells… packaging.


In the space of temperature controlled shipping, there’s a big elephant no one can get around: waste. So much of it. Whenever a pharmaceutical company ships medicine to a hospital or doctor’s office, or a fisherman ships lobsters from the coast of Maine to a steakhouse in Texas, that shipment needs to be temperature controlled throughout the entire journey. Otherwise, critical product (payload) is spoiled and a lot of money is lost. To ensure that’s not the case, most suppliers ship products in a Styrofoam container with a stash of ice or gel packs. Which are great solutions for protecting the payload, but not as successful at protecting the environment—a sustainability issue suppliers have been interested in solving since ever. Not to mention, these styrofoam containers are large, bulky, and non-collapsible, which also create a nightmare for storage and disposal.

Then Softbox approached the FUEL team with an alternative solution: a collapsible, 100% curb-side recyclable shipper. Not a brand new product, surprisingly, but a brand new approach to using their old product: a redesign of their corrugated shipper called TempCell. The new design leveraged the protective powers of corrugate in the simplest but most effective way, creating a new technology called Thermaflute (TM), transforming the original TempCell into TempCell ECO. Our challenge became convincing customers that corrugated cardboard could protect as well as sealed Styrofoam and be good for the environment.


“What’s inside matters.” We knew the technology inside mattered as much as the product inside. And to successfully launch TempCell ECO, we needed that story to be clear. All the reasons to believe. All the benefits for both the pharmaceutical companies and the end-users (doctors and hospitals), for the product and for the environment. And all because of Thermaflute (TM): a protective coil of fluted corrugate that locks in cold air for up to 3 days. So we made Thermaflute the hero.


Our solution was to create a box that speaks for itself. The simple but brilliant technology inside could be teased on the external package and then fully explained once the box was opened. Our design utilized every surface to communicate a chapter of Thermaflute’s product story and benefit, from a bold intro (product differentiation) to concrete proof of its value to the user and payload (protection and sustainability). Once inside, we revealed, and detailed, “the technology within.”

1. We created bold statements declaring clear product differentiation. 

2. We explained why the statements are true, and how that benefits the user. 

3. We used the actual design of Thermaflute’s corrugated waves to guide the user from one side of the narrative to the next. 

4. Thermaflute’s tagline on the inner flaps served as a “red curtain” reveal for its double-meaning: the technology is just as valuable as the product.

5. We washed the inside with a solid green color to play up the “Green” technology.

6. We introduced “the secret” innovation behind TempCell ECO: Thermaflute (TM). 

7. Then we provided a closer look at and explanation of the technology’s design. You’ll never see corrugate the same way again!

8. We made a check-list of all the industry standards and supplier expectations TempCell ECO meets. Check! 

For the final design, Softbox needed to reduce content on the inside of the box to simplify the printing process and decrease costs. Instead, we migrated the content into a brochure that could be co-branded between Softbox and any supplier, reiterating both companies commitment to product and environmental protection. 

TempCell ECO is proof that Softbox customers can literally “have it all”: packaging that protects their product, their bottom line, and the environment. And the demand has been overwhelming. And the applause! Fast Company awarded Tempcell ECO an honorable mention in its 2020 “World Changing Idea” Award category, while featuring our very own design. And the Greenville Chapter of the American Advertising Federation (AAF) also awarded the design a Silver Addy for Packaging:

To find out how we can help, get in touch!