Design of Product Labels

Multinational companies all employ graphic designers who have the skill and experience to come up with the best designs for their product labels. However, many small producers and manufacturers will not have the luxury of employing designers so they will need to outsource the graphic design of their labels to either an outside designer or to a preferred label printing company.

Firstly, let’s look at the main features of product labels. They are as follows:

  • Branding, i.e. company logos and colours
  • Name and contact details of the manufacturer
  • Name of the product, e.g. is it a special category of your main product?
  • Size or volume, e.g. number of millilitres
  • Ingredients of your product
  • Origin of your product, i.e. country grown, country packaged, etc.
  • Optionally, benefits of your product including a catchy phrase or Unique Selling Proposition
  • Use by date or warranty information if relevant
  • Other relevant information such as product testing results, testimonials, guarantees, references to other marketing, etc

This information can be easily placed on your product if it is relatively large. For example, a shampoo bottle label is sufficiently large and provides ample room to fit all of this information. Many products use two labels, for example, a front label that is heavy on branding and imagery, and a back label that contains the finer details of the product such as ingredients.

However, what if your product is quite small such as lip balm? It will be quite challenging to fit all of this information on your label. Where do you start? Well, surprisingly, the first person you should consult is a lawyer, especially if you are selling your products in retail outlets. There are legal requirements such as country of origin and ingredients which must be listed on your products.

These legal requirements make the design of your product labels more difficult rather than easier. However, they obviously must take top priority. Then, what is the best way to design your product label once you have taken care of the legal constraints?

Well, I like to think of the product label as being designed in a similar way to a sales letter but on a smaller scale. You do want to use your product labels to attract new customers. Your prospects will have two readership paths. Some will want to read all or almost all of the information contained on the label. Others will just want to skim your label quickly so you will need compelling headlines which will convince your prospects to buy the product.

Once you have made the sale, you will want repeat sales. The obvious solution is to be consistent with your design so your customers can easily find your product on the supermarket shelves or at other retail outlets easily. This is where a skilled designer is needed. Your product labels must stand out so strong colours are needed. When choosing colours, you must consider your brand and also that of competitors’ products. A design and colour scheme that is unique to your product range will help to differentiate it on the shelf. It is also wise to be mindful of complementary colours and good contrast. There are several free online tools available to help you develop strong colour combinations.

The final point is the size of your text fields relative to each other, and what the headline or primary text contains. If your product is well-known, the brand name is sufficient. Also, if a catchy phrase or brief unique selling proposition is attached to the product then this should also be included prominently on the product label.

One thing is certain when it comes to the design of product labels, you will need a skilled graphic designer to assist you since the future sales of your products will depend on this.

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