Product labels serve different functions depending on the interested party—e.g., supplier vs. consumer. For product manufacturers and distributors, they enable them to differentiate between different items within a line, convey product information, and market their company’s brand to consumers. However, how a label is designed and manufactured significantly impacts how effective it is at performing the above functions. For this reason, many companies use custom labels when manufacturing and marketing their products.
Custom labels are a way to ensure a product—and its important information—is easily identifiable by consumers. They also allow industry professionals to customize the design of the product’s packaging—such as the graphics, textures, and finishes—to suit their brand’s aesthetic. While many industries use custom labels for their products, ranging from cosmetics and personal care products to cannabis and craft beers, ensuring they stand out in the marketplace often necessitates partnering with an experienced and knowledgeable service provider with superior graphic services.
The following article provides an overview of custom labels, covering how to make a custom label stand out, key manufacturing processes, and typical applications.
Key Design Considerations for Custom Labels
When designing custom labels for products, there is no one-size-fits-all format that will ensure the products catch a consumer’s eye. However, there are several design elements to consider that make a label more compelling and appealing, both in the in-store and online markets. Some of the design considerations to keep in mind are:
The first step in designing a label is choosing a material. The material selected sets a tone and limitations for all other design elements. For example, an opaque white material offers considerable design freedom as it can be colored over or left as is for the graphics and texts, while a clear material highlights a product’s internal contents.
The choice of color can draw attention to a product, increasing the likelihood of a consumer picking it up. Additionally, label colors that contrast with those of competing products make it easy for consumers to distinguish a product on a retail shelf or web page.
When choosing a color, it’s important to consider the overall package. The colors of the label should work with the colors of the packaging and the product contents. Otherwise, the product as a whole may be less visually attractive.
Similar to color, graphics affect the overall effectiveness of a label. Graphics that are visually appealing attract more consumer attention. Additionally, if well-designed, they can reduce the amount of text required to convey the necessary product and brand information, resulting in a more streamlined and polished label design.
The font chosen for a label is critical. It must draw attention from consumers without sacrificing readability. When selecting one, you should avoid both overly common fonts and overly decorative fonts. You may also choose to invest in a custom font that fits your brand’s aesthetic taste.
The finish of a label largely depends on your company’s taste and the effect you want to achieve. Both glossy and matte finishes offer their own advantages; the reflective and shiny look of a glossy finish adds impact, while the subdued look of a matte finish makes for a simpler and more classic look.
The size of a product label should correspond with other aspects of the product’s packaging, including the size and shape of the packaging container. For example, for large round containers, you may use either one wraparound label or individual smaller labels for the front and back sides. Regardless of which option you choose, it is important to keep the branding information centered in the front as it is what draws consumer attention to your product.
In addition to color, graphics, and text font, consumers take notice of a label’s shape. Unusually and interestingly shaped labels are more recognizable and memorable. Alternatively, you can use color to mimic the effect of a custom shaped label by printing the shape on clear material.
Product lines with multiple variations—e.g., different flavors—should have labels with consistent design themes. While each label should clearly identify the variation, it should be easy for the consumer to recognize all variations as belonging to the same line.
9. Contact Information
Labels are multi-functional. In addition to attracting attention from consumers, they serve as a method of putting your brand out there. You should capitalize on the advertising space provided by product labels by adding contact information—such as a phone number or website—that allows consumers to interact with you directly if desired.
5 Processes Used to Create High-Quality Custom Labels
Industry professionals employ a variety of different processes to manufacture labels. When creating high-quality custom labels, five of the most commonly used methods are:
1. Flexographic Printing
Flexographic printing is a high-speed rotary printing process that uses a flexible printing plate to transfer ink—including metallics, pastels, and opaque whites—to various substrates. It offers fast and efficient printing, including for large swathes of color and on non-porous materials, in low to high volume production runs.
Compared to traditional printing methods, the digital printing process offers greater precision and accuracy with shorter lead times and lower costs. It employs digital software and printing equipment—such as an HP Indigo digital press—to produce high-resolution images and text. As it does not require conventional printing plates and physical inking, it comes with much lower material and labor costs.
Additionally, its use of digital design software allows you to make alterations to a label’s design, at little to no additional cost, to meet changing needs. Altogether, these qualities make the process suitable for prototyping and small-medium volume runs.
3. Extended Content Label Production
Extended content labels are used for products that have a significant amount of information that needs to be conveyed to consumers, such as pharmaceutical products. They feature multiple layers, providing a larger surface area on which text and graphics can be printed.
Embellishment operations allow you to customize your label further to improve its effectiveness. For example, you can laminate the label which increases its durability and longevity while adding textures and finishes that help it stand out. Some examples are leather, linen, and soft touch (silky).
Some applications require labels with variable information, meaning each label features different information from every other label in the roll. One example is “best by” labels. For these situations, thermal printing, laser printing, and dot-matrix printing all serve as an ideal solution. These processes accommodate and apply a variety of ink colors to specified areas of a label, allowing for information to be added as needed.
Regardless of the type of label manufacturing method employed, having a design file for your label ready significantly facilitates production operations and better ensures the final product meets your exact specifications.
For assistance preparing a design file, see our How to Prepare an Art File page.
Applications of Custom Labels
Custom labels find application in a wide range of industries. At Star Label Products, we have extensive experience designing and delivering the following types:
Recent legalization efforts have led to a growing market for cannabis-infused products. While legal standings vary from state to state, for areas where cannabis products are allowed, the industry carries specific guidelines on what information should be included on product labels. Key factors include strain name, date tested, lab name and test confirmation number, net weight in grams, CBD percentage, and THC percentage. How this information should be displayed, however, depends on the state. Non-compliance with the state’s requirements can lead to the product being pulled from the shelves.
If you want to bring a new cannabis product to market, turn to the experts at Star Label Products. We can produce cost-effective custom cannabis labels that showcase your products and comply with all applicable federal and state requirements. As cannabis industry regulations are constantly changing, our digital printing capabilities—which accommodate prototyping and short-run projects—make us the ideal partner. We also offer flexographic printing capabilities for longer runs. Some of the cannabis products we regularly make labels for include flower, edibles, tinctures, oil, topicals, and more.
Our design and printing capabilities—including UV flexographic printing, digital printing, and rotary screen printing—accommodate a wide range of cosmetic and personal care product label needs. Equipped with over 40 years of printing experience, our expert team has the knowledge and skills to produce high-quality, durable, and eye-catching labels that suit your company’s aesthetic and all applicable industry requirements.
We provide labels in a variety of materials, designs, shapes, and colors to suit different cosmetic and personal care products, including eye shadow, lipstick, nail polish, shampoo, and soap.
The popularity of craft beer is rising, and with it comes a growing demand for craft beer bottle labels. For new and existing craft breweries, our digital printing services are an ideal solution for their beer label needs. We offer a variety of face stock and adhesive options to produce attractive and long-lasting digitally printed custom labels for bottles and cans at a low cost. Each label features all pertinent brand and government-mandated information (e.g., alcohol content and surgeon general warning)
For food and beverages, labels often serve as the first point of contact between the product and the consumer. The quality of the design can spell the difference between a successful product and a failed product. If the label does not convey the necessary product information (as dictated by the FDA) or establish an adequate understanding of your brand in the consumer, there is a much lower risk of a repeat purchase.
By working with us, you can guarantee your custom food or beverage labels comply with FDA guidelines and showcase your brand. We accommodate a variety of food and beverage products—including dairy, candies, condiments, dressings, meat and seafood, pastries, soups and stews, and more—with our digital label printing, flexographic printing, and embellishment processes.
The two main challenges faced when producing labels for household goods are the nature of the products (i.e., the product ingredients degrade the label) and the irregularly shaped product packaging (i.e., the packaging shape prevents the label from adequately adhering).
At Star Label Products, our digital printing, UV flexographic printing, and extended content label production methods overcome both of these challenges. We produce high-quality labels for a variety of household products, such as all-purpose, specialty, and floor and furniture cleaners.
Like many products intended for human consumption, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products come with strict packaging and labeling requirements. Our in-depth knowledge of the standards and best practices of both industries enables us to design, develop, and deliver compliant custom labels for their many products, such as medicines, supplements, and vitamins.
Promotional labels are marketing materials used to draw additional attention to products without making changes to their packaging. Equipped with an adhesive backing, they can be easily applied when needed.
Our team is well-versed in the design and production of these labels. Regardless of the simplicity or complexity of the design, if you need a custom promotional label, we can produce it to your exact specifications.
Proposition 65 refers to the Safe Drinking and Toxic Enforcement act—also known as the “right to know” law. Effective as of 1986, it dictates that California-based businesses with 10 or more employees must provide “clear and reasonable” warnings regarding exposure to compounds that can cause birth defects, cancer, or reproductive issues. Ultimately, the law aims to prevent California residents from ingesting water that may contain these substances. As such, any company that manufactures, distributes, or sells products in California must have compliant product labels.
The Star Label Products team is well aware of the label requirements outlined by the law. We can produce full-color custom prop 65 labels in a variety of materials and sizes, either as a standalone solution or by integrating the warning into an existing design.
Security labels protect products from tampering, counterfeiting, and illegal handling. Our high-quality security label solutions defend your consumers and your brand’s integrity. We can print your labels with custom barcodes, text, or serial numbers as needed. Microtext and invisible ink are just two additional examples of how Star Label Products can offer increased security for your products.
UL and CSA labels identify a product as in compliance with UL standards and CSA standards, respectively. At Star Label Products, we are authorized to print UL registered certification marks for products that meet UL standards. We also supply blank UL recognized labels so you can print your own labels in-house. All of our UL and CSA labels are designed and constructed to UL and CSA standards.
Help Your Custom Labels Stand Out With Our Superior Graphic Services
In addition to our label manufacturing capabilities, we also provide graphic services to help customers develop a label design that meets their exact needs. Armed with extensive experience and state-of-the-art design software and hardware, our graphics department is well-equipped to produce artwork for any label application.
Partner With Star Label Products for High-Quality Custom Label Solutions
At Star Label Products, we design and deliver high-quality custom labels for a wide range of industries. By partnering with us for your custom label needs, you benefit from our:
- Over four decades of industry experience
- Extensive label manufacturing services, including design assistance, printing, and the addition of embellishment techniques
- A broad range of material, color, size, and other label customization options
To find out more about our custom label capabilities or request a quote, contact us today.