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Ensuring good label design right from the start

From lipstick and lotion to beer and wine, product labels are meant to last the entire lifespan of the item to which they are applied. What happens when labels lack durability? Information is lost, putting safety and brand reputation at risk. Consumers might assume that a damaged or illegible label is a sign that the product itself is crafted of cheap or subpar materials. Good label design starts with a clear picture of exactly how a product will be used.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How will the product be used?
  • What is the life expectancy of the product?
  • How will it be stored?
  • To what will the label be adhered?
  • Will it come into contact with chemicals or solvents?
  • Will the customer need to write on the label after it is applied?
  • Will the product undergo any further processing after the label is applied?

Be thorough. Collect as much information as possible to give your supplier a complete picture of your label expectations. Only communicating that a label might be exposed to chemicals is not enough. A complete list of every possible chemical the label will likely encounter helps determine how the label will be constructed.

Be specific. If a label will endure industrial dishwashing cycles, this could mean anywhere between 30 and 10,000 wash cycles over the course of its lifespan. Provide your supplier with full disclosure of every potential scenario.

Select the right substrate. Substrates can range from less-expensive paper with varnishes or laminates to more durable and expensive vinyls and polyesters, up to very expensive polycarbonates and retro-reflective, pressure-sensitive materials. It’s important to specify the right substrate for the durability you need— without going overboard.

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