Labels can improve a brand’s image, help a product to stand out in a crowded marketplace, and determine shelf appeal. In retail, labels are the critical last link in the sales chain that conveys important product information as well as creates an emotional connection that gets the customer to buy. Labels can also be essential in branding an event, whether sports, civic, corporate, education, or celebration related.
Now new label substrate options and tools can not only enhance graphic appeal but also streamline the design, printing, and application process while increasing quality and reducing cost.
Brand managers now have suggestions to give his or her graphic designers, digital design firms, here are three tips to help optimize their printed label business.
Start with a Quality Substrate
The label substrate is as important to the quality of the label as the artist’s canvas is to a painting – even more so actually because labels must look great despite transport, storage and handling in rough settings that paintings never have to endure.
“For maximum visual appeal, graphic designers require high quality label stocks that provide excellent print density and ink anchorage to produce full bleed labels that print bold colors and sharp, clear text to the edge of the label,” says Alan Jameson, senior manager of the design and prototyping team at Avery Products Corporation, a leading national label brand. “The labels must also stick securely in potentially extreme temperatures experienced in transport, refrigeration, freezers, microwaves, or outdoor events with sun exposure, as the application demands.”
To ease the printing process such labels should also work seamlessly and reliably with digital printers, with superior lay flat properties. In order to facilitate this, according to Jameson, it is a good idea to work with a label provider with a product that is tested by the OEMs and certified or verified to run in digital presses.
Get Attention with Eye-catching Substrates
With limited shelf space in the market, however, graphic designers must get attention for their clients’ products and services. To this end, there are a number of unique premium substrates available today that will help labels stand out from the competition.
For example, to give any item a metalized look without the use of metallic ink, Jameson suggests a unique Silver Matte label by AveryPRO, Avery’s commercial printing label division. Such a metalized look, he says, often works well for high-end food, wine, beer, drink mixer, or even spa products, where the graphic designer wants to lend a feeling of opulence.
“To convey a premium feel, designers can try a full metallic finish with minimal text,” says Jameson. “Or to create emphasis, they might print heavy blocks of black or a solid color, leaving specific portions unprinted so the metallic area shines through, say for a knife logo design on a deli product label.”
When high-end health, beauty, and skin products need to stand out, Jameson suggests considering a label like the company’s White Soft Touch™ labels, which have a special coating that gives them a velvety texture without requiring post print coating, which reduces cost and speeds the label printing process.
This type of finish has been available for magazine and book covers as well as packaging, but there is nothing like it in the pre-die cut pressure-sensitive label market. “Such a coating can serve as more than just a touch point to affect the feel of the label; it can be used to shape the customers’ perception of the product on which the label appears,” says Jameson.
“Designers can also create some interesting tactile 3-D effects using soft touch,” adds Jameson. “For example, leaving the area within a feather shape unprinted so the consumer feels the softness of the feather, or printing a photo of moss that actually feels like moss.”
When a raw, handmade, or authentic look is desired, graphic designers can add it to products, packages, boxes, bottles and bags with a natural, organic looking, Kraft Brown pressure-sensitive label. The label, which hearkens back to traditional, unbleached, natural materials, uses an FDA-compliant permanent adhesive so it is safe for indirect food contact.
Occasionally, graphic designers want to place a bright white label on a dark object like a wine bottle or box. The challenge, however, occurs when the dark object shows through the label, making it appear gray or off-white instead of bright white. In such cases, graphic designers have the option of using a True-Block label, which has a blocking layer built into it behind the bright white face stock. Unlike typical labels which have a blue backing, this allows the white to maintain a cleaner look.
Streamline the Process
With commercial printers using sheet-fed digital printers that can produce high-quality short run labels on a par with traditional long-run custom jobs, graphic designers now have a number of tools and options to streamline the label printing process, improve quality, and cut costs.
Another way to significantly cut time and cost from the label printing process is to work with a label provider that offers quality pre-die cut stock of the most common label shapes and sizes. This eliminates the expense of dies and extra handling, allowing more of the budget to go into graphic design and effects.
“While label printing has usually taken from 3-5 working days, requiring considerable pre-press coordination including ordering dies and choosing stocks, turnaround time can be cut to as little as same day if press time is available,” says Jameson. “If graphic designers provide the printer with a fully laid out press sheet, all they have to do is drop it in the print queue and wait for press time.”
To save valuable pre-press time and accurately align products, graphic designers and printers should use free digital press tools and design templates such as those available from AveryPRO. They find such templates intuitive and easy-to-use since they are similar to those used on more common office labels.
“With such design templates, there is no guesswork,” says Jameson. “The graphic designer knows the label’s dieline, can create a design or multiple designs on the press sheet and not worry about alignment or if it is the correct die. Just download the template, lay out your design and you are done.”
To streamline the process, it is best to use design templates that provide seamless integration, such as Adobe Illustrator extensions, with existing imposition software programs. Using design templates with correct dimensions and safe zones can also help to minimize waste and increase efficiency.
While graphic designers can optimize their label business with such digital efficiencies, Jameson suggests easing the label application process for their clients as well. For instance, with Easy Peel labels users simply bend the sheet to pop up the label edge and peel. The sheet lies flat when finished without damaging the remaining labels.
“When graphic designers take advantage of digital printing as well as the new label substrates, tools, and options available, the result is a more eye-catching design, in less time, at lower cost with fewer revisions,” concludes Jameson.
Editorial Note: This post was shared by a member of the Package Design community and heavily edited by our editorial staff. Do you have news to share with our readers or a package design project that you are especially proud of? Click here to learn how you can become a contributing member of the Package Design online community.