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5 Steps to an Effective Label

Labels are an integral component of any product. Although they’re not given as much attention as other packaging supplies, they’re one of the most essential.

Custom stickers and labels are what you would consider primary packaging, the first level of materials that make direct physical contact with your product. Primary packaging is what consumers engage with the most. In that sense, your labels should strike the perfect balance between form and function. They should capture your target market and provide useful information about your item at the same time.

But how do you know that your labels are as effective as you need them to be? They remain long after a gift bag or product box is disposed of, so it’s important to create a custom label that stands out and ingrains your brand into customer’s minds.

Except for Fair Packaging and Labeling Act regulations, there are no specific guidelines for designing labels, so you can be as creative as you want.

However, there are label factors that will increase brand recognition and boost product sales—with the right execution.

This article covers those essential label components: application, size, shape, material, and helpful design tips to help you make the most out of your label printing.

Step 1. Label Purpose and Application

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So, what makes a good label? There’s no simple answer. It’s all those factors combined and how they complement each other to create a well-designed, effective label.
The first step in custom labeling is understanding its application. How you use your labels determines how to approach the rest of its components.

What’s your product? Do you need just a front label or another one at the back for ingredients?
How will you sell your product? Do you need a large label that customers can immediately see among other products on the shelf?
Is your product perishable? Should you get a waterproof label that’s safe to store in the fridge? Or do you need an uncoated label to write on for inventory purposes?

Each component will be discussed in detail throughout the article but it’s best to start with the product then work from there.

Step 2. Label Material

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There are three (3) factors to take into account when choosing label adhesives:

  • The type of surface your label will be affixed to
  • The environment your label will be exposed to
  • Your overall label designs

Most adhesives will stick to any clean and smooth surface but exposure to extreme temperatures or moisture impacts your label’s efficacy. Paper adhesives are one of the most popular materials and work great for general short-term applications and controlled environments. Then there’s waterproof and tear-resistant stock like polypropylene and vinyl that are better suited for outdoor applications.

Whatever type of material you choose, it should also complement the overall look of your labels. Protective coatings like matte or high-gloss finishes can either enhance or diminish your label design, so choose wisely.

Step 3. Label Size and Shape

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Now we can begin your label design, starting with size and shape.

How much surface space is available for your label? Measuring is easy, but there are other factors you need to consider, like how much space do you need for the label information? An effective label enhances your product, not detract from the overall appearance.

The wrong label size may not only create wrinkled edges and air bubbles, but also a negative impression on your brand. Know what size and shape restrictions exist before you start creating your layout.

Step 4. Label Content

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Because labels offer little space, design-optimized content for your labels is key. Keep your product label copy clear, concise, and informative.

Depending on your industry, the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act may require you to include more in-depth information about your product. Overall, these are key information that effective product labels need to include:

  • Product name
  • Company logo
  • Units of measurement for the item
  • A short description or tag line
  • Ingredients and nutrition facts
  • Company contact details
  • Barcode

Remember, labels are not only about form but also function. They should communicate easily to your consumers and encourage them to purchase your product.

Step 5. Label Design and Printing

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Now that we’ve covered the best ways to use key label components to your advantage, here are some important design and printing tips to keep in mind.

Typeface
Certain elements like your logo and the product name should be prominent, but typography is also a way to create a distinction between the different types of text on your label.

Create a hierarchy. Layout what information deserves the big heading and which copy gets the sub-heading, or regular body copy. This helps lead the consumers on what to read first.
Choose the right combination of fonts. This should not only complement your branding but also match your product and connect with customers. Fonts tell a lot about your brand personality, so choose wisely.
Prioritize readability. No matter how good your label design looks, if consumers don’t understand what your product is in the first few seconds, chances are they won’t buy it. Pay attention to the font sizes and even the spaces in between to make sure your label is legible.

Color
Marketers, brands, and designers know that color combinations can influence a consumer’s emotions—that’s why color selection is key when designing your labels.

Apply color psychology. It only takes a few seconds for a customer to make a subconscious judgment about your product, so make sure your label design evokes the right feelings.
Color affects your text. Some color combinations look great visually but can also make it more difficult to read your labels. Be sure your colors have enough contrast to make your messages pop.
Set your artwork to CMYK. To avoid color accuracy issues, it’s always best to change your color mode from RGB to CMYK. This setting is always recommended for physical print projects and especially when working with a commercial printer.



Now that we’ve covered the essential components of an effective packaging label, you’re ready to spruce up your products and make them stand out.
Get started on label printing with NextDayFlyers today. We’re here to bring your product packaging ideas to life.
Want more tips on stickers and label printing? Check out our guide to wine and beer bottles, or go beyond product labels and use stickers for marketing and promotions.

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