Product label design
Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Arousing curiosity in the mind of the consumer.
“Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind”. Walter Landor, acclaimed designer, pioneer of branding and consumer research techniques.
A well designed product label is a crucial differentiator in the competitive retail space. However, a strategically designed label makes a brand statement.
It is difficult to overemphasise the importance of labels. Integral to any cost effective marketing strategy, they are often the first point of contact between your brand and the customer in which you have all of 30 seconds to form a first impression. The product label therefore needs to stand out from the crowd on the burgeoning store shelves, front and centre, in order to captivate customer attention.
This is achieved through creative, impactive, visually appealing labelling.
Many studies have been conducted to highlight the importance of labels from the customer viewpoint. One such study, Shopping Decisions Made In-Store, revealed that some 70% of consumers make their purchase decisions in-store. Perhaps more revealing is that 1 in 10 shoppers change brands in-store.
Importantly, 85% of shoppers say their decision to purchase a product is informed by reading the label whilst shopping.
The success of your product/brand therefore depends significantly on its on-shelf presentation. A unique, attractive label can effectively influence the consumer’s buying decision when shopping.
A product’s label can be its own advertising. It speaks to the quality and integrity of your product. The choice of label design is a key marketing element and its design, colour, fonts, graphics and materials require careful consideration.
Apart from branding and marketing, labels serve to inform consumers of the product contents, allergens, warnings, provenance, use/disposal/recycling instructions, storage instructions, expiration date and mandatory legal requirements etc.
There are certain fundamental concepts that brands adhere to in label creation.
Readability is arguably the most important element of label design. The brand and product name must be clearly readable from a distance. A font size of minimum 6 points and 10 points or above for important information is preferable. A label that is legible will ‘shout’ from the shelves attracting customer attention.
Choice of colour scheme is an important aspect of label design. It should be cohesive with your brand, set your brand apart from the competition and be eye catching to the consumer. The colour scheme can be informed by the typography and graphics of the label, for example, bright colours for an upbeat theme, muted for plain, organic/eco product labels.
Product labels contain imagery and a lot of text so it’s essential to choose the most effective typography. Designers use a variety of fonts to add dimension, originality and interest to the label. Two or three font pairings of differing thicknesses and styles may be used for label readability and understanding. The typeface should be cohesive with the brand logo and other graphic design elements existing in the brand.
In terms of marketing, its imperative that the logo, product and brand name are displayed prominently in order to build a strong brand identity and communicate the essence of the product.
The term white space refers to the empty space between the different elements on a label. Its purpose in graphic design is to prevent the design from becoming too cluttered for the eye to focus on any one element.
The product logo, name, images, and copy should have enough white space around them so that customers can focus on one aspect at a time.
White space can also be used to impart a sophisticated, minimalistic look to the product label. It is often used to lend a pure, calm, open feel.
Illustration is used when the product needs to be spoken about more visually. Abstract graphics, accent colours or an illustrative element can create a feeling around the product in a way that alone words cannot.
The label design should not be the same as the packaging but they should complement each other.
The size, shape and packaging substrate will greatly influence label design; the shape, size and location of the label on the product creating the parameters for design font and imagery.
Separate labels, (branding/marketing and informative), may be displayed on both sides of a product, however a single, wrap-around label can be visually more striking and cost effective. It also assists in creating brand identity.
The use of quality materials, layered and raised design elements in label creation will enhance the perception of product excellence and visual appeal.
A matte laminate can provide a more classic look that is easy to read, whereas gloss will add impact to the colours on the label and provide a shiny, reflective look.
An artistic, attractive, effective label is useless - if it is not legal.
Before embarking on label design it's necessary to be familiar with local labelling and packaging laws. Certain important information must be clearly displayed such as product contents and allergens. Wine labelling, supplement labelling, and organic food labelling etc. have specific, regulatory requirements.
Although he primary function of a label is to be visually appealing attracting the curiosity of the customer, functionality is also an important consideration.
You may want the product itself to be the hero, the label receding, as in a gourmet food product. Here, a smaller or transparent/translucent label may be preferable.
Labels can be designed to draw attention to product ingredients or a key selling point for the product. They can cover a portion of or the entire product, be transparent or opaque.
In the 21st century every company should have their contact information on their product label. This is obviously not about label appeal but rather about expanding it beyond a ‘passive’ sales and marketing tool.
A contact telephone number, physical address, and a website address can all be accommodated. A pop-up subscription to an emailing list on the website will enable you to garner information and encourage interaction with consumers.
Essential to the label design is the inclusion of the product barcode. Barcodes are the machine-readable lines on a label that store information about a product for use at various sales stages and to track products through the supply chain. There are two main types used in retail:
UPC, Universal Product Code, used predominantly in North America
EAN, European Article Number, predominantly used in Europe (although both can be read by modern scanners throughout the globe)
They lend authenticity and integrity to the product and are mandatory by retailers. It’s essential that they are printed properly to be effective. For assistance and further information see our Sizing dimensions and colour guide.
Our barcodes work internationally. Should you require barcodes for your products, please visit our Buy page www.barcodeireland.ie/buy, or contact us on email@example.com or through the contact form on our website www.barcodeireland.ie/contact and let Barcode Ireland help your business.