How to Create Great Product Labels

Written By: Matt Clark | Article Date: August 28, 2021


The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act guides us on what information needs to be provided when it comes to label printing, but other than that, there are no rules and regulations for designing custom labels.

Product labels can come in all shapes and sizes, but what makes a great label? There’s no simple answer. It’s a combination of form, function, and how they complement each other.

Custom labels are the essential type of packaging. Boxes protect and may enhance your product presentation, hang tags add branding, and paper bags are a great way to add value to your customer’s purchase. But you can throw all of that away, and labels remain part of your product.

Labels are considered primary packaging, which is what consumers engage with the most. Your custom labels should provide helpful information about your product and make an impact and stand out from the competition.

This article covers basic label printing and what you need to know when creating custom labels for the first time. We’ll take you through the essential label components in steps and provide you with the necessary design and printing knowledge to make the most out of label printing.


Identify the Purpose of Your Label

This step is the most important part of label printing. As humans, when we identify a goal, all the decisions we make moving forward should serve that goal. The same is true when designing custom labels. Identifying the purpose of your label will help you make decisions about the rest of its components.

What kind of product is it for? Do you need just a front label for branding or another one at the back for product information?

How is your product stored? Should your label be large enough to see from a store shelf? Does it need to be waterproof in case the product is kept inside a fridge?


Label Material

With your label’s purpose in mind, you can select the best label stock for your application requirements.

Take note of two (2) factors when choosing the adhesives:

  • Product environment – Is your product safe for shelf storage? Does it need the fridge? Should it be dishwasher-safe?
  • Label design – Is your label colorful and vibrant or elegant and slick? Is it text-heavy or illustration-heavy?

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 among 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, better suited for outdoor applications.

Whatever type of material you choose 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. For example, gloss coating adds saturation and enhances design details, which goes best with colorful designs. Matte diffuses shine and goes better with darker colors, text-heavy designs, and minimalist designs.


Label Size and Shape

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

Ask yourself these questions:

How large is the surface space available for your label?
How much space do you need for the label information?


An effective label enhances your product, not detracts from the overall appearance.

The wrong label size results in possible wrinkled edges and air bubbles, and a negative impression on your brand. Know what size and shape restrictions exist before you start creating your layout.


Label Content & Design

Because product labels offer limited space, design-optimized content is critical. Remember, labels are not only about form but also function. They should quickly communicate to your consumers and encourage them to purchase your product.

Here are some content and design tips to keep in mind:

Prioritize readability. No matter how eye-catching the label is, your product will not sell if consumers don’t understand what type of product it is. Keep your product label text clear, concise, and informative, and choose a legible font.

Design with information hierarchy. Lay out what information deserves the big heading and which copy gets the sub-heading or regular body copy. This helps guide the consumers on what to read first.

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. Green symbolizes nature and goes well with organic and healthy products. Black exudes sophistication and suits luxurious brands. Orange and red promote vitality and hunger, so they’re perfect for most food products.

Sometimes, less is more. Some labels have too much going on and detract attention from the product. If you want your product at the forefront, consider unique materials like clear BOPP labels. They are perfect for food products and especially if you emphasize the contents of the packaging. BOPP also has a clean “no-label” look, not to mention they’re dishwasher-safe and tear-resistant.

Prototype your design. Too many people skip this step and end up wasting time and money on mistakes they could have discovered from prototyping. What appears on your screen often looks different from what comes out in the actual print. By printing a label sample in the exact shape and size you want, you can check errors, sizes, spacing, and the overall design. It also helps to show other people the product label and get their input.

Now that we’ve covered the essential components of a great product label, you’re ready to spruce up your products and make them stand out.


FAQs

What are the parts of a product label?
This depends on what type of product you have and its industry regulations. A standard product label includes these important details:

  • Brand name
  • Product name
  • Weight, volume, or serving size
  • Company or manufacturer’s contact information
  • Ingredients or materials used
  • Legally required details such as allergens and choking hazards

We recommend that you check the applicable packaging and labeling regulations for your business.

What’s the most durable product label material?
White vinyl is our toughest label material. It is ideal for outdoor use and products exposed to heat, refrigeration, or water. It is also dishwasher safe.

How do I get my design checked for free?
Upload your design, select the PDF Proof option, and we will email a proof for your approval. Please allow up to 12 hours to receive this email.

Can I order sample labels?
You can request a free sample kit that includes our popular print product samples, including stickers and labels. This helps you compare our variety of paper stocks, coatings, and features.

Is it cheaper if I print product labels in bulk?
Yes, bulk printing saves on material and shipping costs, which lowers the price per unit.