Sometimes I forget that I have the world’s largest collection of pizza boxes. It’s not like they’re sprawled all over my apartment; I have a highly organized spare closet that allows me to keep over 1,500 (mostly unused) boxes both out of sight and out of mind. But every few weeks I receive a familiar e-mail that reminds me about my true identity. “I’m redesigning my pizza box. What should I put on it?” When I see those words on my screen, I’m reminded of both my hoarding problem and the reality that most pizzeria owners have no idea where to start when it comes time to craft pizza box imagery.
Before jumping into your new design, think about how your customers will interact with the box. Do you offer takeout and delivery, or will you only be giving boxes to customers for leftover slices? Each of these situations presents different needs and it’s likely you’ll need a box that can cover all three.
You can print on any surface of the box (even on the inside if you spring for food safe ink), but put your energy into the top since that’s going to get the most eyeball time. Your design should be simple and clear. Instead of clogging it with your phone number, Web site, address and every single social media handle you’ve ever created, just give the basics. Your name and location is all most people will need to look you up online. You’ll have to give a bit more if your pizzeria has a common name or if your URL isn’t just the name of the pizzeria, but keep the contact information as simple as possible.
Next comes the actual design. I absolutely recommend working with a professional designer, but there are lots of fun alternatives. Maybe you have a pizza maker who’s in school for design. They already know your brand and style, plus they’ll be grateful for some side work in their field of interest. Several pizzerias have had success tapping their customers’ talents by running pizza box design contests. Locals enter their designs and customers vote for their favorite. A contest can even drive social media engagement if you post images and hold the vote on Instagram or Facebook. Designing your pizza box is a great opportunity to work with local schools and art programs. Students can work together to design an image for you just as they would for an actual client. They’ll get valuable professional experience and you’ll get a unique box design, not to mention customers for life.
Two-color prints are the most popular and provide flexibility, but you’ll save money if you can make it work with just a single color. Thanks to the growth of visual platforms like Instagram, people are hyper aware of design and will post a picture of your pizza box if it pops enough. If that happens a few times, thousands of new people will be exposed to your brand.
The pizza box can be a valuable tool for retaining valued customers and bringing in new ones. Just make sure your box is designed with your customers in mind and reflects the brand you’ve built inside the restaurant. Then send me one for my collection.
Scott Wiener is the founder of Scott’s Pizza Tours in New York City and SliceOutHunger.org.