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How to Design a Product Label

Simply making a good product won’t always guarantee that it will sell. For a sale to happen, you need to create a useful and catchy product packaging label. The thing is, people try to ration their attention by ignoring as many products as possible, and this is where label design comes in.

Believe it or not, product label designs have the ability to impact consumer purchasing decisions. They play a major role in doing the following:

• Attracting shoppers’ attention

• Conveying information about the product

• Helping businesses stand out from their competition

If you make such a product label that attracts attention, you’ve pretty much already converted a passerby into a customer. Furthermore, conveying the right information and increasing the uniqueness of your brand’s identity through it can also play the effect in turning a customer into a frequent or loyal customer.

Research shows that 10% of shoppers switch over to another brand based off of product packaging alone and that 70% of them make buying decisions at the store and not at home.

Therefore, no matter what product label it is that you’re making, you should consider applying the following tips on how to design a great product label. By doing this, you’ll likely be able to fulfill your business’ goals to the highest potential.

What’s included in a typical label design?

Typical label designs include a unique sense of identity that sends out a clear message about the product, distinguishes it from other brands, and helps the product constantly attract attention.

A product label will go hand in hand with all the other branding efforts of a company. Its style is consistent with the rest of the brand’s visual identity, including the same shapes and colors that are easily recognized by customers as belonging to that particular business.

In addition, label designs are meant to deliver both factual and emotional information to customers. Therefore, when creating a product label for either your own brand or a client’s, you will have to define the one thing customers should know and the one thing they should feel when thinking of the brand.

Be sure to clearly communicate both of these aspects through your label design. By conveying the right messages to your customers through your choices in color, font, style, and print size, for example, you can simply make the buying decision easier for the customer.

1) Consider the label size for designing

A great label design is one that shows a high level of creativity but also one that works within the parameters set by the client. An experienced designer will ask the client for specific requirements beforehand and work accordingly to the briefing to avoid costly revisions and discussions.

For example, one of the most important design requirements that need to be taken into consideration is the label size. The smaller the label size, the more striking the label design will have to be to attract attention. This automatically limits how much text and images there can be on the label as well. If all else fails, use a label size you’re comfortable with and then scale it down until you end up with something the client is happy with.

Use the same font size for continuity on your label design. Try to avoid using too many decorative fonts as this might decrease the readability of your label. Another key point to keep in mind is to use shapes and symbols that work well when scaled up or down. This will definitely be helpful for when the client asks for sizing revisions.

Remember, if you have too little space, it is not necessary to fill it all up – emphasize the white space! The label itself can stand in contrast to other products on the shelf, helping you distinguish your label design from the competition in a much more effective way.

2) Use color, texture, and type to your advantage

Think about how major companies create their product label designs. For example, McDonald’s uses red and burnt yellow to create contrast and evoke hunger. They’re so good at it that once you come across their newest product, you’ll be able to immediately recognize that it belongs to Mcdonald’s solely based off its packaging alone.

Designing a good label means you should use such colors, texture, and type that make the label easy to read even at a distance. Maximum contrast means maximum readability, so consider pairing black text with white background or white text with black background for example.

Also, keep in mind that about 8% of men are color blind, with the most common form being red-green. Hence, this means they will have trouble distinguishing between red and green colors when placed together.

If you are able to design a color blind-friendly label, you will be given an extra advantage. By choosing colors that can be recognized and distinguished by those who are color blind, you’ve just technically gained an extra 8% of people as customers.

Many businesses fail to take this factor into consideration. Some don’t even know about this. Therefore, this can put you right above all the other brands that do not incorporate color blind-friendly palettes into their product label design. Afterall, every little bit of design consideration helps in the long run.

3) Design the label with the container and product in mind

Make sure to measure the container before you start designing a product label for it. Otherwise, you’ll have to resize or reformat the label to fit later on. If you haven’t chosen a scalable design, this can even mean having to scrape the entire label design, which will put you back at square one.

Place the logo on the label in such a way that it can be clearly recognized. Also, plan the placement of the label in ways where it can be clearly seen on the container. For some product categories, such as food and alcoholic beverages, there are strict guidelines regarding the types of information that must be included in your label. Hence, be sure to do your research on them before beginning the design process.

4) Focus on the print quality

The quality of your print will set the customers’ expectations so consider leaving a good first impression. Print quality says a lot about your label and your product, with some choices being matte, gloss and vinyl surfaces.

However, there will be no need to go overboard in trying to make the product look too expensive if you’re not trying to brand it that way. More expensive labels doesn’t always necessarily mean better. So, set a budget for your label design and work within it.

 

You may not realize it, but you can easily rack up thousands of dollars in extra costs by simply adding some small details to your design. Although you may think that it looks cool on your design, the customer might not even notice. When considering adding details, ensure that these additions will surely add value to your label, making it better than it was before. If not, it will not be worth the price.

For example, Uprinting.com offers 250 square gloss cut-to-size labels at the following price points:

• Plain at $0.14 per ($35.53 total)

• With rounded corners to stop the labels from peeling off at $0.18 per ($43.98 total)

• Shrink-wrapped delivery at $0.23 per ($58.60 total)

• Circle-shaped at $0.32 per ($81.02 total)

• Oval-shaped at $0.43 per ($108.20)

• On a roll for easier use on product packaging at $0.73 per ($181.55 total)

So, which choice would be the best one to make? Well, this will all depend on your business and what you’re working with. For example, shrink-wrapped delivery makes it easy to count and distribute labels; instead of counting them one by one, it just doles out 50-packs and you’re done.

Choose the print quality you can work with in the long run and consider it from all angles before you order the labels. What will make your job easier and keep the costs down?

5) Create memorable, distinctive labels

Even if you can’t afford a huge budget, illustrations are a great way to add some amazing design into your labels. You’ll be able to use your imagination and create designs that will be memorable to your consumers. Try to avoid making something that’s too similar to your competitors since that can lead to legal trouble and confusion.

You should also try to avoid placing too many images on the label just because you think it will look great. Adding more elements does not mean that this will make your label more distinctive or visually appealing. Pare it all down as much as possible and only include things that powerfully communicates the essence of your brand and product. Remember, less is always more when it comes to design.

6) Get feedback from your client

Feedback is always awesome. No matter what stage of the process you’re at, feedback from people you’re working with keeps you grounded and centered. Always appreciate design feedback and constantly seek it out to maintain top performance.

There’s nothing bad about making mistakes or being criticized, so don’t take it personally. In fact, you should always ask your client to be as specific and as detailed as possible when providing constructive criticism about your work. Jot these points down. When in doubt, go back to what the client said, not what you think the client meant.

The ideal way to ask for feedback is through searchable and sortable messaging such as by email. Try to avoid instant messaging services, since they aren’t easy to use in the long run – just imagine sifting through tens of thousands of messages to find that one link or attachment posted 3 years ago the client just brought up.

Conclusion

It’s easy to create a label design for any product if you have the right skills and experience. All design processes are iterative, meaning you’ll keep going back to the initial product label design and polish it until you have achieved exactly what the client wanted.

From color to print and texture, it is recommended that you have an eye for detail and carefully think about all the design choices you make. By perfecting your product label design, you will be able to turn either your own or your client’s product and overall business into something worth noticing by consumers.

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Written by Christiaan

Besides having grown up in the design Industry, Christiaan has advised some of the world's largest companies on their branding & packaging designs. Has been the resident judge for design awards, and has spoken at numerous global design & marketing events. Christiaan founded the London office of the award-winning Cartils agency, and has founded the DesignBro.com platform.

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