Custom stencils for packaging

Your small business (or even your large business) can benefit from a quick, professional and efficient way of branding all of your packaging materials. As a small business owner, you appreciate the fast service of companies like Uline. You can take advantage of their array of shipping materials to support a variety of shipping methods. But one thing they don’t do is customize those materials for you. That’s where stamps and stencils come in. A custom stamp is great for letters and very small parcels. But for those cardboard boxes, document mailers and shipping tubes, a stencil is what you want. Let’s look at how to make a custom stencil for packaging, step by step.

Characteristics of a good packaging stencil

Let’s start by listing the desirable characteristics of a packaging stencil. You want it to fit your packaging. If you’ll have large and small boxes, you probably want it to fit on the smallest face of your smallest box, while not looking dwarfed on the largest face of the largest box. It should look great when the recipient sees it sitting on their porch or loading dock. Last, it should be quick and easy to paint. If you use two layers, then you want it to be very easy to register the second layer on top of the first one without a lot of hassle. Most logos are designed so that a black-and-white version can be made without trouble.

How to make it

I’m going to tell you the quick-and-dirty way to make a bullet-proof packaging stencil. If you follow these instructions, you won’t fail.

First, let’s assume you’re shipping cardboard, which is kraft colored. Ordinarily, kraft (brown) colored cardboard is a great opportunity for doing a three-tone light-midtone-dark stencil. But for packaging, you don’t want to use white and black paint. Rather, you want to use only black paint.

For a professional look, the mailing label and logo art should be positioned so that if you’re reading the mailing label and you rotate the box away from you, you’ll be looking at the logo.

Second, your boxes are all going to need shipping label information. Go for a professional look by always stenciling just one surface of the box. If the box is on the table in front of you, with the label side up, then the side you stencil should be the side that is on one of the other sides.

Suppose your logo looks like this logo from Yuri Kuleshov:

Real Jam logo

Third, choose a version of you logo that has a solid background. Upload to

Get back the email with the results in it, and choose the one that looks good as a dark-on-light stencil (typically, this is the one in the last position).

Fourth, order the two-tone stencil, and wait for it to arrive in the mail.

Use the dark stencil to mark your box. As you’ll see from the website when you order, it will look something like this:

You can try painting your logo a few different ways on your packaging, but it’s a good idea to decide on one way and stick with it. For example, you may find a paint color that very nearly matches your logo and looks good on the brown cardboard of the box. Or you may decide that the color(s) in your logo don’t look good mixed with brown, and you just want to paint the logo in black.

If in doubt, just spray the logo in black. Dark blue, dark green and dark red and dark brown also work well. Avoid yellow, orange, pink, white and other light colors on brown packaging.

Looking for more? Check out these examples of brand stencils from Bay Stencil.