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Do I Need Mottled White or Kraft Brown Shipping Boxes?

If you’ve been following along with us, you might remember we’ve covered a couple of topics on how to find the best shipping box for your needs. We’ve detailed how to measure a shipping box, essential qualities of shipping boxes, how to find the right box size and why quality matters. 

But if you haven’t followed along because you have plenty of other business responsibilities that don’t include reading a packaging company’s resources (we get it), here’s a short overview:

  • When measuring a shipping box, note that the measurements you see for a box are measured from the inside.
  • There are four essential qualities you should look for in shipping boxes. Low prices to keep your shipping budget in check, customization so your customers recognize your brand instantly and have a good first impression, a brand value boost and ample support so your shipping and packaging questions get answered. 
  • Your perfect box size depends on how fragile your product is and how much room you’ll need for packing materials.
  • The quality of your shipping box matters because you want your shipping boxes to withstand the shipping process and arrive at your customer’s door unscathed. 32 ECT is the industry standard for shipping box quality. Make sure your boxes have this measurement! 

You’ll also notice that at Brandable Box, we currently offer two colors of shipping boxes. The classic kraft brown and mottled white, which is a slightly off-white board usually used for USPS Flat-Rate boxes, cake boards or pizza boxes. 


We believe that you shouldn’t have to be a design expert to have custom boxes for your business. That’s why we pulled together a guide to colors on kraft brown cardboard. And now, we’ll help you figure out whether you need mottled white or kraft brown shipping boxes.

We'll go into detail on your logo colors, how they'll show up on mottled white or kraft brown boxes and give a few examples of how logos will show up on each color.

Why Are There Only Two Cardboard Colors?

We only offer white and kraft brown corrugated board because these two colors are the most naturally occurring colors for corrugated board. Any other colors have to be printed onto the corrugated board. Custom, fully printed boxes like fabfitfun’s iconic colorful boxes are most likely made by printing onto mottled white cardboard.

Kraft Brown

What makes kraft brown, brown? Kraft brown corrugated board is a paperboard that is produced from what’s known in the industry as virgin pulp. During step two of the recycling process, the recycled materials go through a pulping process. This step creates the base of corrugated cardboard boxes. It’s during this step that corrugated cardboard gets that natural kraft brown color. 

Choose kraft brown as your shipping box if your logo has the following elements:

  • Is black or has mostly black elements.
  • Colors are highly saturated. Includes purples, greens and deep blues.
  • If red is desired, a muted, brick or burnt red will print better than a bright red. Yellows and oranges won't print as vibrant.

We’ve pulled some real-life examples from real customers for you.

Birdie Fuel Coffee

kraft brown shipping box with orange logo next to coffee cup and coffee

We’re showing this example as it’s not only a great logo, but it’s also orange on kraft brown. It’s not typically what we recommend, but the end result still turned out looking great. We still want to caution that oranges and reds on kraft brown won’t turn out as vibrant as what you see on your screen, so be prepared for a more muted print.

Orion Coffee

kraft brown shipping box with black logo next to stack of books

We’re showing off this logo as it’s shown on their website as having a dark blue background with white stars. 

If you’re familiar with our Logo Guide, you know our printer does not support white ink at this time. 

This is a great example of converting a color logo to black ink. You’ll see that each little black star shows up clearly and cleanly on kraft brown.

Basil Grocery

kraft brown box used to carry groceries with color logo on box and groceries inside on kitchen counter

Here’s one more example of color on kraft brown cardboard. If your logo has greens, reds and yellows, they will still print, but keep in mind that they can be slightly muted.

Mottled White

What is mottled white? Mottled white is a liner with a slightly off-white appearance. It’s not fully bleached like typical white printing paper, so the white maintains kraft brown undertones.

Choose mottled white as your shipping box if your logo has the following elements:

  • Is a bright color or has bright color elements like pinks, light greens, and bright reds.
  • Your logo has a gradient or several different colors.
  • You want your entire shipping box to pop, not just your logo colors.

Here are some real-life examples from real customers.

Green Orchid Soap

white shipping boxes with color logo next to soap and other beauty products

We love this example as its again not only a great logo, but it shows how well colors print on mottled white corrugated board.

You’ll see on Green Orchid Soap’s website that their logo is pretty close to how it printed on their white shipping boxes. The colors pop, and are crisp and clear.

Coral Sellerz

three white shipping boxes with color and black logos on the stairs

We wanted to show off this example for a couple of reasons. This box truly shows just how much color can pop on a mottled white shipping box. Bright greens, blues, pinks and yellows stand out on the white surface.

We should also point out that even though white will not print as a color on our printer, it will show up as the box color. Our printer does not apply any color to white areas of your logo. In this case, it worked out for this logo as it has color surrounding the white area. If your logo is all white, we recommend outlining it before uploading.

When it comes to choosing which cardboard box color is right for you, it all boils down to your personal preferences. We’ve had several customers print just a black logo on our mottled white boxes. We’ve also had several customers print their gradient logos on kraft brown shipping boxes. Either way, just remember that corrugated cardboard is naturally absorbent, and colors won’t always print just the way they look on your computer screen. 

We hope these tips help you choose which shipping box color is best for your logo needs. Ready to choose? Browse our custom shipping boxes here.

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