Nobody likes a hard project – we all prefer EASY. Luckily there are a handful of proven, easy ways to improve your labels. These are low cost strategies to make sure you get the very best outcome with your next label project – all they require is a little planning and thought. And, once you adopt these strategies, they can be applied to ALL your future label projects – they will all benefit from these 6 easy tips.
1.Market – Who are We Selling To?
Your target audience is the first thing you want to consider when you are creating a new product. This applies to the product itself, as well as the label, the website, the sales channel, and may other aspects of your business. The customer is the reason for your product’s existence. Take the time to define, narrow, and validate the ideal customer you are targeting. Based on that, your label design will follow – are you upscale and corporate? Small batch organic? Hand made or mass produced? Sold online or at Farmer’s markets? All of these questions must be answered to get the best possible label for your product.
2.Begin with the End in Mind (is it a bag, box, or bottle?)
Now that the market is defined, and assuming your product is fully developed, start thinking about the package itself. Will you sell in brown glass, clear glass, plastic bags, or corrugated boxes? The container, and the size of the container, have a huge impact on what type of label will work best. Durability is also a key question here- are the products used outdoors? Are they shipped long distance? What is the expected useful life of your product – a 2 gallon warehouse store package is much different than a single serve bottle. Consider what the label is applied to, and how long it needs to last, as early in the conversation as possible.
3.How Will They Get on the Container?
With the brand, the product, and the package nailed down, think about the physical production of the product. Are you using a contract packager? A mobile bottler? Or are you making it in small batches at home. (And if you are making it at home, where to you want it to scale to?). All these questions are critical, because they determine how the labels must dispense. Nearly all the labels we produce are on rolls – but what orientation on the roll (right edge off first, bottom off first) and the roll size and core size can be major stumbling blocks if they aren’t addressed up front. We can accommodate almost anything, but we need to know about it early in the process. Think through this decision as early as possible – even if you are just deciding how you will set up your home kitchen to label Mama’s famous spaghetti sauce.
4.Quantity and Variety
How much of your amazing sauce do you expect to sell? We recommend buying a 6-12 month supply – this will give you a good volume price discount, but won’t burden you with excess cash tied up in inventory. The more you buy of a given label – the lower the cost per piece – that is pretty obvious, but it has to be balanced with the risk of a product revision. Obsolete labels are worthless and a bad decision, no matter what price break you got – it doesn’t matter when they are in the garbage can. Also, what about differe3nt flavors? Sizes? or other product variations… If you can group multiple products together, with the same label size, you can get great economies of scale. This ‘bulk order’ could include multiple versions of the same label – this is a great way to test market – or it could include multiple distinct products – spicy, medium, and mild for example.
The other way to arrive at quantity and variety is to establish a budget. This is especially useful if you have a new product with no sales history. How much have you set aside for labels? If that is $500, or $1,000 or whatever it is, we can help you back into the best strategy to get the most label value for your fixed investment dollars available. This is especially true if you have answered the other questions in this article- armed with that information, it is easy to decide the best label choice for your product. This can also be approached from the ‘cost per label’ budget perspective. If your product cost (and sale price and profit) have to come in at a certain level, we can figure out how many labels you will have to purchase to hit that unit cost – this may also influence the design and complexity of the label if we are shooting for a certain price point
6.Future Expansion of the Product Line
Usually the first step is just getting your first order placed – or moving over to a vendor that understands your needs – and getting the project off the ground. BUT – it makes sense to think about the long term as early as possible. Where do you want to be? What is the expansion strategy? If all goes well, where do you want to be in 5 years? How many products? Sold in what locations? Think about this and how it may affect your label design. We have to focus on the ‘now’ but we can’t ignore the big picture.
NOTHING About Label Equipment or Technology!
Notice that none of the steps here have anything to do with ink, paper, foil, or die cutting. Those are very important, and we live those every day, but they aren’t the right place to start. We offer a full like of label printing – from simple to complex, and from small to large runs. We have ALL the tools, but we need to have these questions answered first before we can recommend a specific technology solution. Don’t worry about size, shape, or price until you have a clear idea of where you are going. Use these steps to chart your course, and you will be successful. In a future post I will discuss the next steps = applying the specific label production methods to solve specific problems – but first you need to clearly define the problem. With that, you are half way to the solution.
I liked your suggestion about thinking the final product. That does seem like a good thing to be aware of because if you are designing a CD label or bottle. I wouldn’t want to design a label and then have to change it to fit what I am putting it on.
These are some great tips for better labels. I’ve seen some great labels before, and I’ve also seen some really bad ones. I agree that deciding on your target audience is a crucial first step. If you’re aiming for the young hipster generation, you’d want a modern, sleek label!