How to Choose a Craft Beer Label Printing Company in 2024

Finding the perfect labels for your craft beer can be challenging. With so many printing companies to choose from, it can be difficult to identify one that truly understands your unique durability, design, and customization needs. We’ve worked with thousands of breweries and craft beer makers in your position.

Don’t sweat it. This guide is packed with tips to help you identify a printing partner who gets your brand and makes your beer stand out.

We’re covering the essentials: understanding materials and techniques, how to weigh costs, figuring out order sizes, and making sure your labels stay compliant. Plus, you’ll get a cheat sheet of questions to ask printers, making your decision-making process a whole lot smoother.

Cans with custom labels

Understanding Your Custom Beer Label Needs

Successfully choosing a printing partner starts with identifying your goals. Consider the following:

Identifying Your Goals

Start with the end in mind—your goals will likely include brand recognition, cost efficiency, durability, legal compliance, and customer engagement. These will help potential partners understand how to strategically design custom labels aligning to your specific needs. Here are some tips:

  • Brand Recognition: Share style inspirations or designs to collect feedback.
  • Cost Efficiency: Provide expected order volumes for advice on printing options that match your budget.
  • Durability: List product varieties like beers, seltzers, and ciders that require durable wet labels. Communicate the different environments that your product might have to endure.
  • Legal Compliance: Specify label content needs like government warnings supporting industry compliance (tip: we can help with this).
  • Customer Engagement: Discuss target demographics and labeling ideas to captivate them.

Decide What’s Most Important

Like any major business decision, it’s important to determine what matters most, whether it’s exceptional customer service, competitive pricing, the ability to create standout labels, conveying your brand story, eco-conscious materials, or a combination of those.

  • Standout Label Designs: Will custom shapes, special effects like foils or specialty printing techniques be featured? Determine must-have aesthetics.
  • Storytelling Through Labels: What brand narratives do your labels need to convey? Share themes inspiring designs.
  • Eco-conscious Practices: Do you require sustainable printing methods and materials? Ask about green production options.
  • Customer Service: How important is an expert team available for technical support? Assess level of involvement expected.
  • Printing Cost Factors: Will you print high volumes for cost efficiency or need flexibility for small batch prototyping? Request rate breakdowns.

Comparing capabilities in key areas helps identify ideal printing partners matching must-haves. Weigh whether you will compromise on certain preferences if strengths align well in other dimensions.

Custom bottle label with metallic foil and embossing

Key Considerations in Choosing a Craft Beer Label Printing Company

Choosing the Right Materials

When assessing the quality and materials capabilities of a printing partner, breweries should evaluate factors like durability, material options, and print quality.

The choice of material for your craft beer labels plays a significant role in their overall look, feel, and durability. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

  • Water-Resistant Materials: Given the conditions that craft beer bottles and cans are often subjected to, from ice buckets to refrigerators, selecting water-resistant materials is crucial. Options like BOPP (biaxially oriented polypropylene) and vinyl offer excellent moisture resistance, ensuring your labels remain intact and visually appealing, no matter the environment​​.
  • Durability Against Moisture and Cold: It’s not just about water resistance; the material should also withstand cold temperatures without losing its integrity. Materials that can endure these conditions without peeling off or getting damaged are vital for maintaining a pristine look from the brewery to the consumer’s hand​​.
  • Aesthetic and Texture Options: Beyond durability, the material of your label affects its aesthetic appeal. Matte, gloss, and satin finishes can dramatically alter the look and feel of your labels. Each finish has its own way of interacting with light and can complement the design of your label to make colors pop or provide a sophisticated understated look.
  • Eco-friendly Options: With a growing emphasis on sustainability in the craft beer industry, considering eco-friendly label materials can resonate with your target audience’s values. Materials like recycled paper or biodegradable films can significantly reduce your brand’s environmental footprint while maintaining high-quality aesthetics.

Label Sizes and Shapes

Standard label sizes and shapes have evolved, largely influenced by the industry’s most common container types and sizes. For example, a typical beer bottle label might measure around 3.5 inches wide by 4 inches high, offering ample space for branding, artwork, and necessary information without overwhelming the container​​. Similarly, can labels often wrap entirely around the vessel, providing a 360-degree canvas for design creativity and brand messaging.

However, the “standard” is not one-size-fits-all. Different bottle and can dimensions, such as slim cans or larger bomber bottles, require tailored label sizes to ensure a perfect fit. The key is understanding the dimensions of your specific containers and how much of that space you want your label to cover.

Going Beyond Standard Options: The Case for Customization

While standard labels serve many brands well, the craft beer industry thrives on uniqueness and personality. Custom labels—those that break the mold in terms of size, shape, and application—are becoming increasingly popular for craft brewers looking to differentiate their offerings.

  • Embracing Unique Shapes: Custom-shaped labels can mirror the contours of unusual bottle or can designs, create visual interest, and enhance shelf appeal. From sleek, minimalist labels that hint at the contents to intricate, die-cut shapes that tell a story, the possibilities are limited only by imagination.
  • Considering Wraparound Labels: For cans, a full wraparound label maximizes the available design space, allowing for bold, engaging visuals that attract attention from every angle. This approach (often called shrink sleeves) can be particularly effective for limited edition releases or flagship brews that deserve extra emphasis.
  • Size Matters for Compliance and Clarity: When considering custom sizes and shapes, it’s essential to remember regulatory requirements for labeling alcoholic beverages. Every label must have space for mandatory information, including alcohol content, volume, and manufacturer details, without compromising readability​​. Balancing creative aspirations with these requirements is key to a successful label design.

Tips for Choosing the Right Label Size and Shape

  1. Start with Your Container: Measure your bottles or cans carefully, considering curves, necks, and any other features that might influence label adhesion and appearance.
  2. Reflect on Your Brand’s Personality: Let your label shape and size be an extension of your brand story. Are you bold and avant-garde, or classic and traditional? Your label can reflect this.
  3. Consult with Design and Printing Experts: Professionals in label design and printing can offer valuable insights into what works well for different types of beers and containers. They can also provide templates or guidelines to help visualize your ideas.
  4. Experiment with Mockups: Before finalizing your design, use digital or paper mock-ups to see how your label will look on the actual container. This step can help identify potential issues with size, shape, or legibility before you commit to printing.

Cost and Scalability

For breweries and craft beer makers, understanding the costs and scalability options of label printing is critical for both startup ventures and established brands. You’ll want to take into account factors such as minimum order quantities, volume discounts, the flexibility of printing across multiple SKUs, and the efficiency of re-ordering processes.

Understanding Pricing Models

Label printing costs can vary widely depending on several factors, including material choices, print techniques, label size and shape, and the complexity of the design.

Most providers use a pricing model that decreases the unit cost as the order quantity increases, rewarding larger orders with better per-label pricing. However, the starting point and scale of these price breaks can differ between providers, making it important to get detailed quotes for various order sizes​​.

Minimum Order Quantities and Volume Price Breaks

  • Minimum Order Quantities (MOQs): Many label printing companies set MOQs to ensure profitability. For craft breweries, especially those in the startup phase or with a rotating selection of small-batch brews, finding a provider with low MOQs can be crucial. Understanding a provider’s MOQs will help you determine if they’re a good fit for your production scale.
  • Volume Price Breaks: Volume discounts are a key consideration when planning your label orders. Providers typically offer price breaks at certain thresholds, which can significantly impact your cost per label. When comparing providers, ask for a detailed breakdown of pricing tiers to understand where these breaks occur and how they align with your anticipated order volumes.

Scalability and Flexibility for Multiple SKUs

Craft breweries often produce a wide range of beers, each requiring its own label design. Some key considerations include:

  • Flexibility Across SKUs: Look for providers that offer flexibility in aggregating different label designs to qualify for volume discounts. This can be particularly beneficial for breweries that want to print similar designs for multiple SKUs without the need to place large individual orders for each.
  • Digital Printing Advantages: Digital printing technology offers significant advantages in terms of scalability and flexibility. It allows for cost-effective short runs and easy updates to designs without the need for new plates or setup fees, making it an excellent option for breweries with a wide variety of labels​​.

Ease of Re-Ordering

The ability to quickly and easily reorder labels as needed is essential for maintaining inventory levels and responding to demand fluctuations. Consider providers that offer streamlined re-ordering processes, possibly through online platforms, which can save time and reduce the time to re-order.

Comparing Prices and Making Informed Decisions

When comparing label printing providers, consider the following steps to ensure you’re making an informed decision:

  1. Request Detailed Quotes: Obtain quotes for various order sizes, including the costs for different materials and print techniques. This information will help you understand the full scope of potential expenses.
  2. Evaluate Total Cost: Look beyond the sticker price to consider other factors like setup fees, design services, shipping costs, and lead times, which can all affect the total cost.
  3. Consider Long-Term Needs: Choose a provider that can scale with your brewery. A company that offers competitive pricing for small orders but also has the capacity to handle larger volumes efficiently can be a valuable partner as your business grows.

Turnaround Time and Reliability

For breweries and craft beer makers, timing can be everything. Whether you’re gearing up for a seasonal release, restocking a bestseller, or launching a new brew, the turnaround time for getting your labels can significantly impact your operations. You’ll want to consider everything from artwork approval to set up, printing, and shipping to help you plan effectively and avoid unexpected delays.

The Components of Turnaround Time

Turnaround time in label printing is influenced by several key stages, each contributing to the total time from placing your order to receiving your labels.

  1. Artwork Approval: The process begins with your design. Once you submit your artwork, the printing company will review it to ensure it meets technical requirements for printing. This stage includes checking the resolution, color specifications, and any potential issues that could affect print quality. Delays can occur if revisions are needed, so submitting artwork that already adheres to the provider’s guidelines can speed up this phase.
  2. Pre-Production and Setup: After artwork approval, the project moves into the pre-production stage. For traditional printing methods, this may involve creating plates or screens, which can slow down the process. Digital printing, on the other hand, typically requires less setup time, making it a faster option for smaller or more time-sensitive orders.
  3. Printing: The actual printing time varies depending on the complexity of your labels, the quantity ordered, and the printing technology used. Digital presses can produce labels relatively quickly, while traditional methods may take longer, especially for large volumes or intricate designs.
  4. Finishing and Quality Checks: Post-printing, labels undergo finishing processes such as cutting, laminating, and possibly applying adhesive. Quality assurance checks are also conducted to ensure the labels meet the brewery’s and the printer’s standards. This stage is crucial for delivering a high-quality product but can add time to the overall process.
  5. Shipping and Delivery: Finally, the completed labels are packed and shipped to your brewery. Shipping time depends on the distance between the printer and your location and the shipping method chosen. While expedited shipping options can reduce wait times, planning for standard shipping times in your overall timeline is wise.

Label printing employees

Tips for Optimizing Turnaround Time

  • Provide Ready-to-Print Artwork: Ensuring your designs meet the printer’s specifications from the start can significantly reduce delays during the artwork approval stage.
  • Communicate Your Timeline: Be upfront with your printing provider about your schedule. Some companies can accommodate rush orders, but clear communication is key to aligning expectations.
  • Consider Shipping Logistics: Factor in shipping time when planning your label order timeline, especially if you’re located far from the printer or if the labels are being shipped during busy seasons.

Questions to Ask Potential Beer Label Printing Providers

To ensure you partner with a label printer that meets your needs, here are some questions to guide your selection process, informed by insights from our own label experts.

1. What is your experience with craft beer labels?

Understanding the printer’s experience in the craft beer industry can give you insight into their familiarity with common challenges and specific requirements, such as resistance to moisture and cold, adherence to regulatory labeling standards, and the ability to produce high-quality, eye-catching labels.

2. Can you provide samples of your previous work?

Asking for samples allows you to assess the quality of the printer’s work firsthand. Look for clarity, color accuracy, material quality, and the overall finish. Samples can also inspire your own label designs and help you gauge the printer’s capabilities in delivering the visual impact you aim for.

3. What printing technologies do you use?

Inquire about the printing technologies available, such as digital, offset, or flexographic printing. Digital printing offers more flexibility, producing vibrant colors, detailed designs, and cost-effective short runs without the need for expensive setup fees, making it an ideal choice for breweries.

4. How do you ensure label durability and compliance?

Given the conditions beer bottles and cans must endure, from refrigeration to moisture exposure, it’s crucial to ask about the materials and finishes used to ensure label durability. Additionally, confirm that the printer is knowledgeable about the regulatory requirements for beer labeling to ensure compliance with legal standards.

5. What are your minimum order quantities and volume discounts?

This question is vital for budgeting and planning purposes. Understanding the minimum order requirements and how volume discounts are structured can help you optimize your orders for cost efficiency, especially important for smaller breweries or those with a wide variety of products.

6. How do you handle design and artwork preparation?

Some printers offer in-house design services or assistance in preparing your artwork for printing. Asking about these services can be particularly beneficial if you don’t have a dedicated designer on your team or if you need help ensuring your designs are optimized for printing.

7. What is your turnaround time, and how do you handle rush orders?

Knowing the expected turnaround time helps you plan your label ordering process in sync with your production schedule. It’s also wise to ask about the process for rush orders, should you need labels more quickly than anticipated.

8. Can you accommodate special requests or unique label features?

If you’re interested in unique label features, such as foil stamping, embossing, or using eco-friendly materials, ask if the printer can accommodate these requests. Special features can make your labels stand out but may require additional planning and cost.

Finding the Perfect Beer Label Printing Company

Finding the right custom label printing company for your craft beer involves more than just comparing prices and reviewing samples; it requires a deep dive into understanding each provider’s capabilities, technologies, and commitment to meeting your specific needs.

The right partner will offer the flexibility, expertise, and scalability your brewery needs. Make sure you carefully consider the factors we’ve discussed in this article—material options, cost and scalability, turnaround times, and asking the right questions—and you’ll be equipped to make an informed decision.

A Comprehensive Guide to Clear and Transparent Product Labels

Sometimes a see-through label is the perfect way to make sure people notice your products. Clear and transparent product labels create a striking look that emphasizes your container – and potentially everything inside of it. When done right, see-through or transparent labels can give alcohol, beauty products, and other types of packaging a clear advantage over the competition.

Of course, the key phrase here is “when done right.” There are some issues that can occur without proper planning. However, planning ahead for these factors can help you attain a stunning look for your labels. Here are some things to consider when investing in a clear or transparent label.

Custom beverages with clear labels

Why Clear and Transparent Labels

Clear packaging and transparent product labels are piquing the interest of brands seeking to elevate their product’s appeal. Consumers are also drawn to transparent labels as they give products sleek, modern styling and allow you to see the contents inside.

Which Products Are Best Suited for Clear and Transparent Labels?

Clear and transparent labels allow certain products to highlight visual aspects that appeal to buyers:

  • Beverages – Clear bottles and labels showcase juice pulp, fruit, and appealing liquid colors.
  • Foods – Seeing ingredients like jams, sauces, and frozen fruits maintains their fresh aesthetic and communicates homemade appeal.
  • Health/beauty – Showcasing product colors, shimmer, or even skin tone matching helps drive interest and purchases.

Compatibility with Different Containers and Materials

If you want clear or transparent labels, you’ll need to use some type of film material, such as a BOPP – after all, there is no see-through paper label material. Since you’ll need a film, you’ll also want to add a laminate or varnish to protect your label from scratches and other damage. In terms of what type of film is best, it largely depends on your container.

Identifying the right clear label material really comes down to what your container is meant to do. If you need a label for a squeeze bottle, you’ll want a material like MDO that’s meant for flexible containers. More rigid containers like glass bottles may lead you to crystal clear films so that you can showcase your product, such as labels for spirits and other higher-end products. These details can help a label printing company identify which material is best for your specific situation.

Design and Color Considerations

While transparent labels offer creative potential, they also come with unique design considerations compared to other label types and materials. Knowing how to design for clear labels is important—here are some tips:

Color Considerations

Label colors will blend with any visible background hue from bottles or contents behind them. For example, red label graphics on a blue bottle will shift purplish. To control for this:

  • Put white ink layers behind label design elements to blank out backgrounds. Multiple layers may be required to fully block out bold container colors.
  • Test print label proofs applied to sample bottles and contents to preview results of transparent inks blending with visible hues. Adjust colors accordingly.

At Blue Label, we can generate physical label samples for testing on the actual containers. Proofs provide visibility on exactly how custom graphics and chosen colors will render prior to final printing approval and full purchase. Leverage proofs to lock in ideal transparent label results.

Custom food jars with clear labels

Size and Shape Considerations

Clear label materials open up a new world of options for packaging designs compared to paper labels. Consider unique sizing and die cuts to maximize visibility and shelf appeal.

  • Non-Standard Dimensions – Move beyond standard label sizes to precisely fit the exact contour of any bottle, jar or container shape. Height, width, corners and more can all be customized.
  • Rounded Corners – Softly rounded or dramatically shaped label corners complement curved containers like wine bottles or cosmetic jars.
  • Die Cut Shapes – Laser die cutting creates labels shaped like logos or abstract art forms.
  • Placement – Unconventional label dimensions or transparent cut-outs enable brands to feature multiple interactive front, back, side and neck labels for expanded real estate to showcase ingredients and tamper-evident seals.

Overcoming Challenges

  • Dark bottle colors can restrict label artwork shades visible through the reverse side. Accentuate with colors optimized for contrast.
  • Details can get lost on shiny materials. Employ techniques like patterns, outlines, and pronounced fonts.

Telling Your Brand Story

With thoughtful design, transparent labels artfully showcase what’s inside a bottle or container while allowing complimentary creative embellishments:

  • Feature appetizing food close-ups “suspended” in clear jars or containers.
  • Use vibrant label colors and graphics to play up appetizing liquid hues visible through clear bottles. White ink pops!
  • Print artistic patterns, abstract shapes or product sketches directly onto see-through materials.

A reputable label printer can provide guidance to overcome aesthetic hurdles while unlocking innovative ways clear labels enhance presentation.

Cost Considerations

While visually striking, transparent label materials and specialized printing can carry higher costs than other label materials. Consider these factors:

Label Material Differences

Common transparent label materials:

  • BOPP (Biaxially-oriented polypropylene) – Glossy polymer film adaptable for complex shapes.
  • PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) – Crystal clear polyester often used for health/beauty.
  • HDPE (High-density polyethylene)- Strong moisture-resistant film.

These plastic films generally cost 10-30% more than paper label materials of the same size, but they enable 360° visibility of contents.

Printing Differences

Precision registration (lining up) of multi-color transparent label graphics also demands specialized printers and operator expertise. Metallic inks, custom mixing for passthrough hues, and other special embellishments increase print complexity and associated setup and per label expenses.

Evaluating ROI

While the upfront material and printing costs may be slightly higher, the return from product differentiation, consumer engagement, and sales gains over time can offset those costs. Conduct pilot studies across different products to measure the impact that different labels and packaging options have on ROI.

Preparing Artwork Files for Clear or Transparent Labels

When providing label artwork files for printing transparent labels, ensure:

Proper File Setup

  • Supply artwork as print-ready PDFs or high resolution PSD/AI files so see-through elements render precisely.
  • Review files at 100% scale and max quality to validate designs before submitting.
  • Activate transparency flattening settings when saving PDFs to properly blend artwork layers.
  • Understand acceptable file formats and ensure your printer performs a design file review before sending your label to print.

Design Considerations

  • Use white ink layers behind designs or apply white label backings so bottle colors don’t alter graphics.
  • Embed or link all fonts and images. Supply high-res photos scaled 1:1 for best clarity.
  • Request test prints applied on sample containers filled with product substitutes to preview final transparent labeling results.

Submitting flawless artwork with visibility-enhancing techniques delivers superior transparent label outcomes that make products shine.

Label Placement and Application

Transparent labels readily showcase any labeled surface imperfections like the following:

  • Air bubbles beneath labels become clearly visible.
  • Fingerprint smudges, debris, and dust is uncovered.
  • The slightest wrinkles or folds stand out.

To avoid issues with see-through labels, consider the following:

  • Utilize clean label application practices minimizing human handling. Employ smooth, automated label dispensers over manual processes when possible.
  • Inspect all transparent labels post-application and re-apply to remedy defects.
  • Ensure label material and adhesives are appropriate for the container, whether it’s a flat surface, a curved surface, or a custom size or shape.

While clear labels beautifully reveal bottle and contents, they also highlight the slightest application flaws which could impact perceived quality. Invest in tight quality controls over label management and equipment. This includes selecting labels with a permanent adhesive that ensures a secure bond to the smooth surface of the container, preventing peeling or displacement that could detract from the product’s aesthetic appeal.

Custom jam labels with clear labels

Find the Right Printing Company for Your Clear Product Labels

Now that you know how to prepare for clear or transparent labels, you still need the right company to help you pull off your see-through vision. At Blue Label, we have the tools and expertise to develop high-quality labels and see-through packaging with your specific needs in mind. You know your products and we know label printing. Together, we can make sure that your labels compliment your products and make people notice your brand.

Ready to wow your customers with eye-catching product labels? Contact Blue Label today to talk to one of our experts about clear printed labels or your next label project.

6 Label Tips for Cosmetics and Beauty Products

An unattractive label is not a “good look” for a beauty product. Aesthetics are an important factor when investing in labels for cosmetics and beauty products, but it’s not the only aspect that you need to consider. Here are six tips that you should follow when it’s time to design and order custom labels for your beauty products.

1. Follow the FDA’s Cosmetic Label Guidelines

A label design that doesn’t follow the rules isn’t going to do your products any good. Misbranded cosmetic packaging is subject to regulatory action from the FDA if it’s found to be misleading or lack any of the required information.

What Counts as a “Cosmetic” Product?

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) categorizes cosmetics as products applied to the body for aesthetic purposes without altering its structure or functions, excluding soaps that only claim to cleanse.

This includes “products such as skin creams, lotions, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail polishes, eye and facial make-up preparations, shampoos, permanent waves, hair colors, toothpastes, deodorants, and any material intended for use as a component of a cosmetic product.”

Products that serve both cosmetic and therapeutic purposes, such as fluoride toothpaste or sunscreen, must adhere to the regulatory standards for both cosmetics and drugs, facing more stringent requirements like annual FDA registration and adherence to certain manufacturing practices.

Cosmetic Product Labeling Guide

FDA Cosmetics Labeling Guidelines

The FDA provides a cosmetic labeling guide that can help you ensure that your product labels follow any regulatory requirements. These include detailed requirements for all accompanying labels and written materials:

  • Label statements required by the FD&C Act must be visible on both inside and outside containers or wrappers.
  • Ingredient labeling and net quantity statement is required only on the outer container’s principal display panel, as per 21 CFR 701 and 740 regulations.
  • The principal display panel must:
    • Display the product name, descriptive nature or use, and accurate net quantity of contents (in weight, measure, numerical count).
    • Place the net quantity declaration distinctly at the bottom in a type size regulated according to container size.
    • Include sold, semi-solid, or viscous cosmetics in quantities in pound/ounce; liquids in U.S. gallon/quart/pint/fluid ounce. Quantities greater than one pound/pint should also state largest whole units (pounds/ounces or quarts/pints/ounces), optionally including metric measurements.
  • The name and place of business of the firm marketing the product should appear on an information panel: includes street address unless listed in current directories but must always include city, state, zip code. If not manufactured by marketer: indicate “Manufactured for …” or “Distributed by …”.
  • All imported articles must state on the label the country of origin

Declaration of Ingredients

Cosmetics for retail sale must include an ingredient list, while professional-use products are exempt unless sold to consumers.

  • The ingredient declaration should be conspicuous and readable at purchase, appearing on any information panel or affixed tag/tape/card.
    • Letter height minimum: 1/16 inch; for packages <12 square inches, min. 1/32 inch.
    • Off-package labeling allowed under specific conditions (e.g., cosmetics in compartmented trays without a folding carton).
  • Cosmetic ingredients should be listed in descending order of predominance except:
    • Color additives and ingredients ≤1% can disregard order.
    • Names must follow regulation-established terms; some may be grouped as “and other ingredients.”
  • For cosmetics also classified as drugs, drug ingredients labeled first as “active ingredient(s).”

Label Warnings

Cosmetics that could be hazardous if misused must have clear warning labels and directions for safe use, as mandated by regulation 21 CFR 740, especially products like aerosol cosmetics, feminine deodorant sprays, and children’s bubble baths.

While not required by the FD&C Act to test products for safety, manufacturers are strongly encouraged by the FDA to do so; otherwise, they must include a specific warning label indicating the product’s safety has not been determined.

Tamper Resistant Packaging

Liquid oral hygiene and cosmetic vaginal products sold at retail must be in tamper-resistant packaging, featuring a distinctive indicator or barrier that alerts consumers to any tampering.

The package must also clearly display a statement about its tamper-resistant feature, which remains visible even if the feature is compromised, as per Sec. 21 CFR 700.25.

Cosmetic packaging and labels

2. Highlight Features and Benefits

The FDA’s required information isn’t the only item that you’ll want to include on your product labels. Highlighting product features and benefits can be a good way to help distinguish yourself from competitors, especially if certain claims can be a deciding factor for your target audience. These types of claims include:

  • Organic: Featuring “organic” on labels assures consumers that the product contains naturally sourced ingredients, appealing to those seeking chemical-free beauty options.
  • Vegan: Highlighting a product as “vegan” communicates it contains no animal-derived ingredients, catering to ethical and environmentally conscious shoppers.
  • Cruelty-Free/Not Tested on Animals: A “cruelty-free” claim signals that the product and its ingredients were not tested on animals, aligning with the values of compassionate consumers.
  • Alcohol-Free: Labeling products as “alcohol-free” can attract customers looking for gentle formulations that won’t dry out or irritate sensitive skin types.
  • Hypoallergenic: The term “hypoallergenic” suggests a lower risk of allergic reaction, making it desirable for individuals with sensitive skin seeking safe beauty solutions.

If any of these claims are truthful and not misleading, they can be added to your product label.

Another piece of information that’s good to include is an expiration date. U.S. law currently doesn’t have any regulations involving expiration dates, but each company does have a responsibility for the safety of their products. If your products will expire, it’s best to include that date on your label for the good of your customers.

3. Think About Label Shapes and Sizes You’ll Need

Unless you carry one type of product, there’s a fair chance that your labels aren’t going to be a one-size-fits-all solution. Common cosmetic containers include:

  • Airless bottles
  • Pumps
  • Sprayers
  • Jars
  • Tubes
  • Droppers
  • Compacts

Each one of these containers can call for labels of different shapes and sizes. This can be a serious issue if you’re banking on using the same exact design for every product.

While you can certainly use the same color scheme, font choices, and other design details for each container, you’ll want to make sure that you adapt your branding and any legally-required information to the various label shapes needed for every applicable container.

Cliff beauty products with custom labels.

4. Consider Special Printing Techniques and Materials

Don’t be afraid to take advantage of special printing techniques for your cosmetics and other beauty products. These value-added services can add both style and function to your product labels.

Durable Finishes

For beauty products and cosmetics that are often exposed to moisture and high humidity, choosing the right finish can ensure the label maintains its integrity. Finishing techniques like lamination, UV varnish, or an ultra gloss finish are commonly used to protect the label from smudging, tearing, and fading.

Double Sided Labels

If you have a clear container, double sided labels are an eye-catching way to make the most of available space. These labels can be read through your container, adding some additional depth to the look of your packaging.

Hot Foil Stamping

Whether you want to make your product look flashy or sophisticated, hot foil stamping can add a dash of style to your labels. Traditional hot foil stamped labels feature gold and silver, but you have many other options that can change your product’s look, such as a matte black stamp or a holographic sheen.

Embossed Labels

Labels aren’t just a visual medium. Label embossing physically raises specific aspects of your label, adding a three-dimensional look and feel to your beauty product labels.

Waterproof Labels

Your labels shouldn’t fall off until long after your consumers are done with your products. If there’s a chance that your products will come into regular contact with water, you should consider investing in waterproof labels.

Hang Tags

Ever wish you had some extra label space? Custom hang tags give you some extra real estate for brand information, promote special deals, or include any other key details that just won’t fit on your labels.

5. Choose the Best Adhesive for Your Product Label

Having an elegant cosmetic label is only beneficial if it remains attached to the surface of the product. Often custom beauty products like face wash, lotion, perfume, body scrub, and shampoo are used around showers and sinks, leaving them exposed to water, wide temperature ranges, and high-humidity environments.

Without proper adhesive, the integrity of the product label can become compromised making it harder to read or causing it to fall off completely. Below are a few factors to consider if your label is going to last in a high-moisture environment.

Adhesive Performance

As beauty and cosmetic labels are exposed to water, alcohol, plasticizers, and other harsh substances, they must maintain their adherence. Selecting a high-quality adhesive will help to not only prevent your custom label from falling off, but prevent it from losing its appearance as well.

Types of High-Quality Adhesives

Typically, for products that aren’t exposed to humidity a standard all-temperature adhesive will work perfectly. However, if your product is going to be used frequently in a humid environment your adhesive will need to have a high solvent resistance. This will help your product label maintain its stickiness when exposed to water, alcohol, or different solvents.

Along with a high solvent resistance, having an adhesive with high shear resistance is recommended for most custom beauty products. You will want your label to be able to withstand constant stress without tearing or cracking. This is especially true if your product is something that must be squeezed.

Pairing Your Adhesive with Your Product Packaging

It is important to consider your label’s material and the packaging of your product when selecting an adhesive. Many manufacturers choose soft-touch containers to give the bottle a better velvety feel. However, in order to attain full adhesion, a very aggressive permanent adhesive is needed. Likewise, any custom clear film labels will require ultra-clear permanent adhesives.

Glass cosmetic bottles with custom labels

6. Design an Irresistible Product Label

Walk down any beauty aisle and you’ll find shelf after shelf with stunning designs. Designing a compelling cosmetic product label means blending aesthetics, functionality, and branding in a way that captivates potential consumers at first glance.

  • Use color psychology to your advantage: Incorporate colors that evoke emotions and perceptions related to your product, enhancing the consumer’s connection and desire for it.
  • Use unique typography and visual hierarchy: Use clear typography and a structured visual hierarchy to make essential information easily navigable, ensuring consumers can quickly find what they need.
  • Set it apart with textured surfaces or unique shapes: Add textured surfaces or unique label shapes to introduce a tactile dimension that stands out on the shelf, inviting physical interaction.
  • Tell a story through design: Craft a narrative with your label design to develop a deeper bond between the consumer and your product.
  • Adopt minimalistic design approach: Embrace minimalism for a clean, modern aesthetic that highlights key features of your product without overwhelming consumers with information.
  • Color match your product: Consider matching your label color with the cosmetic inside for cohesive packaging that visually communicates the product’s look before it’s even opened.
  • Try eye-catching patterns: Test out irregular or abstract patterns in designs to give packages an edge while still maintaining a broad appeal.

Find the Right Professionals

It’s not always easy to create a quality label for beauty products. That’s why it’s best to invest in a good designer and printing company to ensure that your product labels are as good as they need to be to attract new customers.

At Blue Label, our digital printing technology gives us the ability to quickly and efficiently print quality labels. Not only can we handle special printing techniques to make your labels stand out, we can also group multiple label versions in the same order to save you money. If you’re still looking for a label designer, our designer directory can help you find a partner to help you bring your vision to life.

Ready to invest in quality cosmetics labels? Contact us today to talk to one of our experts about how we can help you with your label printing project.

Making Waterproof Labels for Bottles: Factors for Water Resistance

After investing time and money to create great labels for your products, it would be a shame for them to peel off your container. Certain products are destined to encounter moisture, whether they sit in a cooler, sweat after being refrigerated, or encounter water during the application process.

While the majority of product labels don’t play well with water, there are measures that companies can take to protect their designs from a sad, soggy ending. Let’s break down a variety of factors that can help your labels stay strong and look great even after they’ve been exposed to moisture.

The Truth About “Waterproof” Labels for Bottles

Before we get too far, it’s important to address the proverbial elephant in the room—there is no such thing as a truly waterproof bottle label. Water and other fluids will impact even the most water-resistant bottle labels at some point. As such, you can’t guarantee complete protection with a simple label material.

As you research packaging for your product, you’ll likely come across both waterproof labels and water-resistant labels. So what’s the difference?

Waterproof labels offer near complete protection against water, making them suitable for products that are submerged or exposed to water continuously, while water-resistant labels can withstand moisture to a certain degree but will eventually succumb to prolonged exposure.

While complete water resistance isn’t attainable, that doesn’t mean there aren’t means to protect your packaging as much as possible. There are several ways to make your labels as water and oil-resistant as possible, including the following considerations:

  • Label material
  • Label adhesive
  • Environmental considerations

Waterproof Label Considerations

Choose a Label Material

There are a wide range of label materials available, but the majority of them fall under one of two categories: paper or film. Both groups offer various benefits, but one type typically fares much better against water and other fluids than the other.

Paper is a great choice for companies looking for a versatile, cost-effective material, but there’s one big problem—paper has a tendency to disintegrate in water. There are specific styles of paper with a higher wet strength that can slow water penetration. However, there is no waterproof label paper and even the most water resistant paper substrates will become fully saturated over time.

Best Materials for Water Resistance: Film Stocks

If you need water resistance, we strongly suggest sticking with film stocks. Unlike paper, film stocks won’t absorb water, making them as waterproof as you can get for a bottle label. From shrink sleeves to roll labels, there are a few different film materials that are much better fits for products dealing with moisture.

  • Polypropylenes (BOPP): A rigid film that features high tear resistance and is a great fit for beverages and other products that will encounter moisture.
  • Polyester (PET): A film designed for maximum durability that is great for products used outdoors.
  • Polyolefin: An extremely soft and flexible film perfect for squeeze applications, such as bottles that will end up in the shower or other wet environments.
  • Waterproof vinyl: Vinyl boasts a number of benefits, including water resistance, durability, flexibility, and temperature resistance. Vinyl labels can even leverage a matte finish while maintaining the protection needed to resist moisture.

Regardless of your choice, the simple logic is that film is much better at resisting water than paper. As such, a film label is a great start for any bottles that will encounter moisture either before, during, or after application.

Label Finishes for Increased Durability

Several label finishing techniques can enhance the waterproofing and durability of a product label.

Applying a gloss finish, for example, adds a protective layer that repels water while giving the label a shiny appearance that catches the eye.

For an even more pronounced effect, ultra-gloss finishes increase this protection, creating a nearly impermeable barrier against moisture and wear.

Consider Label Stock Thickness

The effectiveness of a label’s waterproof or water-resistant properties is also influenced by its material thickness. Thicker labels can provide a more substantial barrier against moisture (though their resistance to moisture also depends on how porous the material is, its structural integrity upon wetting, and the ability to achieve secure edge sealing when applying the label).

As you’ll see in the next section, the choice of adhesive plays an important role in maintaining label adherence under moist conditions, with thicker labels necessitating stronger adhesives to counteract potential separation challenges.

A collection of custom waterproof labels for bottles.

Find an Appropriate Label Adhesive

Water, oil, and other wet substances can put you in a bind when you choose an adhesive for your labels. Even if your label itself is water resistant, a label adhesive needs to be able to withstand those substances. Everything from regular moisture to complete submersion can pose problems. With the wrong adhesive, you’ll be stuck with a label that’s falling off the bottle.

One drawback is that the presence of water may eliminate certain types of adhesives from your selection. For example, humidity and wet environments can pose problems for removable labels, so you may want to avoid them if you want a truly waterproof label.

Fortunately, there are moisture-resistant permanent adhesives designed to specifically combat this issue. There are a variety of factors that will impact exactly which adhesive works best—the amount of exposure, how often exposure is expected to happen, which types of fluids will pose problems, etc. Once that information is identified, a label printing expert can help you pair the right adhesive with your product.

Beer can in ice with custom label

Plan Around Your Environment

When there’s water and other fluids, there are other potential environmental issues that can create problems for your label. There are a few main considerations that you’ll want to make when it comes to you where your products will go.

  • Your application environment
  • Shipping and storage environments
  • Where and how your bottles are used
  • The product itself

Application Environment

Your application process makes a major impact on your choice of adhesive, label material, liner, and more. That is especially true if your product will be wet going into the application process.

A wet-apply adhesive is a must in these scenarios. You also may need to factor in your product as well. For example, acidic or oily products can wreak havoc if you don’t account for them in the planning process.

Shipping and Storage

Proper shipping and storage is another factor that can be easily overlooked. All waterproof product labels should be stored in a temperature-controlled environment. Exact temperature and humidity levels vary based on your exact label, but too much humidity in a shipping truck or a warehouse will pose problems.

Shrink sleeves are especially sensitive to humidity and other environmental factors, so make sure to keep them safe before application.

Product Usage and Application

Finally, you need to factor in just where your bottles will go once consumers get a hold of them. If your products are going to encounter ice buckets, coolers, or other cold storage places, you’ll need something stronger than a standard adhesive. A more aggressive, freezer-grade label adhesive will be able to withstand these conditions.

Other products may have very different issues, such as a bottle of conditioner. Certain health and beauty labels will sit in the shower and encounter other cleaning chemicals. These products need to withstand a hot, steamy environment along with oils and other substances.

Sunscreen bottles need waterproof capabilities at the beach or pool, but they also should have some form of UV resistance.

Product Contents

You should also consider whether the product itself may impact the label. For example, the oil found in products like sunscreen can affect the application and integrity of a label. Water-resistant capabilities are key, but you should always consider what will happen if some of your own product will leak out and interact with your label.

A whiskey bottle using a waterproof bottle label paper.

Why Waterproof Labels?

Whether your product is going to encounter light condensation or be fully submerged in water, waterproof labels will seem like an obvious choice for certain products. But the benefits go beyond simple resistance to moisture:

  • Environmental conditions: The journey of a product from production to shelf can include a wide range of temperatures from hot and humid trucks to cool, damp freezers. The right labels help ensure product packaging integrity during this process.
  • Durability: Without the right, durable materials for your product, packaging can smudge, peel, fade, and even grow mold over time.
  • Legibility: When water meets the wrong materials, it can smudge or blur essential information on a package, including instructions, ingredients, or disclaimers.

Industries That Use Waterproof Labels

When you think waterproof, you might immediately think of beverage items that can be spilled, chilled in ice, stored in freezers, and generally submitted to a wide range of environmental conditions. But many industries and product types can benefit from waterproof labels, including:

  • Beauty and cosmetic products: From beauty product labels to shampoo and soap labels, durability and legibility in wet environments is important.
  • Household and cleaning products: Cleaning labels need to be able to withstand spills, drips, and frequent handling, and the safety information needs to remain visible and intact.
  • Food products: Waterproof food grade labels help maintain important details in damp environments.
  • Outdoor products: From rugged water bottles to camping equipment, product labels need to be able to withstand varying weather conditions.

Find the Right Label Printing Company

Whether you need custom waterproof labels for bottles, jars, or any other container, it’s essential that your packaging showcases the quality of your products and brand. At Blue Label Packaging, we have the equipment and expertise it takes to not only make your labels as water-resistant as possible, but also enhance your design to make lasting impressions on customers.

Ready to invest in the perfect bottle labels for your business? Contact us today to talk to one of our experts about high-quality, water-resistant labels.

The Anatomy of a Wine Label: Everything You Need to Include on the Bottle

Wine labeling printing can be as complex as the contents inside their containers. In addition to looking good, these labels must provide a lot of information for both intrigued customers and government entities. There is a lot to know about a bottle of wine, and it’s the label’s job to communicate that to the consumer.

As we recently discussed, the use of “wine labels” dates all the way back to ancient Egypt, with seals and etchings put in place to improve trade. Over centuries, the practice has evolved a great deal. Now there are federal rules and regulations to obey. Some information is mandatory, and some is nice to have, but everything on your wine labels is meant to properly reflect the quality of the contents within.

From crucial details like the brand, year, and region to more fun facts like flavor notes and pairing suggestions, your label is a story with a designated hierarchy to help you tell the tale. All the while, it’s important to keep in mind that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) regulates a lot of what details are required and how you list them. Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to include on wine labels – and some guidance on how you should present these wine labeling requirements.

What Information is Included on Wine Labels?

What needs to be included on a wine bottle label?

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Brand Name

Who made the wine? The winery’s branding will usually appear at the top or bottom of the label (like many French wine labels).

Fanciful Name

What’s the name for this specific wine? While not mandatory, it’s not uncommon for wine labels to feature a secondary name to differentiate separate brands within the same winery.

Brengman Brothers’ “Runaway Hen” is an example of a fanciful name of one of the wine brands they have produced. Keep in mind that fanciful names do not replace the need for a class and designation type. When a fanciful name is used, the TTB requires an additional tax class on the label based on the percentage of alcohol. For example, “red table wine” or “white table wine” are required for wines under 14 percent alcohol, while “red wine” or “white wine” is required for wines above 14 percent alcohol.

Vintage (Year)

When were the grapes harvested? This wine information, while not mandatory, is common among wine labels as it speaks to the quality of the bottle’s contents, especially if you’re up on your vintage variations.

Wine or Varietal Type

As you may have guessed, what kind of wine is in your bottle? This is where the grape or varietal type is communicated, e.g., Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, etc. It’s required for wines to list a type on the label. In addition, wines that call out a specific varietal name must derive at least 75 percent of the product from the specified grape. Otherwise, the label should have a generic name like “red wine” or something similar.

Appellation (Region)

Where was the wine made? The region of origin breaks down in a few different ways, and there are rules that apply to listing geographic information on wine labels. If a state or county is named, it is federal law that at least 75 percent of the grapes used in production come from said location. If an AVA is cited (an American viticultural area, e.g., Napa Valley), the law states that at least 85 percent of the grapes must come from said area. Certain states also have their own regional laws. For example, California law mandates that 100 percent of the grapes must come from California if the state is named on the bottle.

Producer & Bottler

Where was your product made and bottled? If this location differs from the winery or vineyard, you must print both the name and address of this location on the label.

Alcohol Content

What is the percentage of alcohol by volume (ABV)? Unless it can be deduced from its class (e.g., table wine suggests an ABV of 14 percent or less), this number is required on every label.

Net Contents

How much wine is in the bottle? Whether it’s printed on the label or blown into the glass, this number (expressed in milliliters) must be present on every bottle.

Sulfite Warning

Does this wine have more than 10 parts per million of sulfur dioxide or more? If so, your label must bear a warning that says “CONTAINS SULFITES.”

Government Warning (Most often on the back label)

The Alcoholic Beverage Labeling Act (November, 1988) requires that every label of an alcoholic beverage bare a specific government warning that states:

Government Warning:

(1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects.

(2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems.”

Additional Wine Label Information

Additional messaging may appear on the back label, such as pairing suggestions, flavor notes, and possibly some history on the winery or vineyard. These fun facts are not mandatory, but can serve as helpful hints for thirsty wine enthusiast. You could even include serving facts if you want, although the TTB doesn’t require them for wine labels. Extra details or information can add to the way people perceive our products, so don’t be afraid to add something if it makes sense for your brand.

A TTB compliant wine label featuring necessary legal information.

Materials Matter: Choosing the Right Material for Your Wine Bottle Label

When it comes to wine labels, there are a lot of options to consider beyond just paper. The materials used can impact the look, feel, and durability of the label. Paper is a classic choice that offers a range of appearances from smooth to textured. Textured papers give labels a nice vintage, artisanal vibe. Smooth papers convey a cleaner, more modern look.

Another key decision is the coating or finish. Glossy varnishes make the colors vibrant and eye-catching. Satin or matte finishes have a more subtle, soft aesthetic. If the wine will be stored in damp environments like a cellar, extra durable laminate coatings can be applied to protect against moisture damage. 

The right materials can enhance the wine branding and convey the desired feeling. This is a good opportunity to get sample labels with different papers and finishes to see what works best for your particular wine.

Wine label gallery

Wine Bottle Design Considerations

When designing your wine bottle labels, it’s important to think about the actual dimensions and shape of the label. Wine bottles come in standard shapes like Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne style, as well as unique custom shapes like  asymmetrical hand-blown bottles.

Wine bottle shapes

The label shape can mirror the bottle or go for something distinctive like a diamond or circle. Blue Label can print any shape you can dream up. Just be sure to consider the actual label size needed to fit that area of the bottle.

At Blue Label, our preferred label artwork file is a Adobe Illustrator file or high-resolution PDF. This allows our team to verify label dimensions. You’ll get a proof via email, and we’ll make sure your artwork translates smoothly into the printing process.

With the endless variety of wine bottle shapes and sizes, custom tailored labels make a big impact.

Make Your Wine Labels Stand Out from the Crowd

Now that you’ve got the crucial wine bottle info down, it’s time to add the touches that will make it pop off the shelf. Blue Label Packaging Company offers a variety of materials and finishes to help you create a custom wine label that will do your product justice.

There are plenty of ways to help you communicate the quality and style of your wine through packaging. If you’ve got a bold and complex Cabernet, a matte material seems like a nice pairing. A light, crisp Sauvignon Blanc? A glossy finish has a nice effect! Got an organic grape? An earthy craft paper is an excellent choice.

Once you’ve chosen your material, consider special treatments for a little something extra. Spot varnishes are a great way to highlight the label information you’re particularly proud of (e.g., a private reserve; a vintner’s selection) or a special design element. Also, details like hot foil stamping and embossed textures add a level of sophistication wine lovers will appreciate.

Your custom wine labels deserve the very best. Our facility offers the highest quality, the most flexibility, and the fastest processing, printing, and shipping times— five business days from the time you approve your artwork (because not everything gets better with age). Get in touch with us today to get the barrel rolling on your next wine labeling project. 

*after artwork approval

Professional vs. DIY Label Applicators: Which is Best for Your Business?

Stunning product labels come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. Of course, they all need to go through the application process at some point.

There are a multitude of options for label application. Some businesses opt to handle application themselves through means that range from sophisticated machinery to the most manual tools of all – your hands. Other business turn to professional applicators, such as a mobile canner.

Simply put, it’s essential to identify the best applicator for your business. However, the most effective option depends on your exact needs. Let’s break down the different types of applicators that are available and which route makes the most sense for your needs.

Product labels being placed on a roll for future application.

The Different Types of Label Applicators

When you’re tired of applying labels by hand, there are two main routes your company can take – handling application internally and hiring an outside vendor.

There are plenty options available if you want to handle label application internally. DIY applicators range from tabletop devices to fully-automated machines. There are also applicators made for specific types of labels and containers. For example, a shrink sleeve applicator is vastly different from a machine made for wraparound bottle labels.

As you may expect, the more automated machines are typically more expensive. Those extra costs typically translate in added efficiency, with some automated machines applying more than a thousand labels per hour. However, even tabletop devices will speed up your process compared to hand application. That investment in applicating equipment will also produce more consistent results, effectively limiting application issues like bubbling and wrinkles.

If you aren’t interested in handling the label application process internally, an outside vendor can take on that work for you. Companies like mobile canners and bottlers will come to your brewery, distillery, or other type of business and set up temporary application lines. Other professional applicators have internal systems where you can have them label your packaging in their own facility.

How to Choose Between Different Label Applicators

Both DIY and professional label application are viable options. However, each route offers certain advantages and disadvantages. A big brewery or a small specialty foods company will have different pain points that may make one option more attractive than the other. As such, it’s important to weigh what matters most for your business.

Advantages of DIY Label Applicators

Long-term financial viability.

Your budget is arguably the biggest factor when it comes to choosing the right label applicator for your business. It’s no secret that investing in labeling equipment is a notable investment, especially if you opt for automated machines. Manual machines are more affordable, but less efficient and consistent. Your financial flexibility can dictate exactly what you can get or if you’d prefer to pay as you go for professional application.

Of course, that initial investment is a big reason why in-house label application is best for long-term savings. You invest that capital up front on equipment, training, and space, but you’ll make that money back over time.

Flexibility in terms of timing.

One of the biggest benefits of investing in your own applicators is that you don’t need to rely on outside schedules. Using a mobile canning company or some other professional label applicator means that you need to work around their timelines. If you have a filler-applicator in house, you dictate when it’s time to fill your containers and apply your labels.

Advantages of Professional Label Applicators

Capital and space.

While taking a DIY label application approach can save you long-term, they do require an initial investment. Professional applicators can help businesses that either aren’t in a position to make that investment or want to keep their cashflow flexible for the near future.

Professional label applicators also help businesses that struggle with space. It’s not uncommon that businesses simply don’t have room for permanent canning or bottling lines and other sizable equipment. Mobile canners and bottlers make it so that you only need to clear space for a day before it’s returned to a normal work area.

No extra labor.

Sometimes your business doesn’t have the staff to accommodate label application in house. It takes a lot of time to make your product, clean, work the floor, handle accounting, and complete every other essential job. With professional label applicators, you don’t have to worry about training people and dedicating their and your valuable time to yet another task.

Less responsibility.

There’s a lot of value in not having to incur the cost when something goes wrong. Professional vendors are responsible for any issues or other problems that occur with their equipment. Those issues can range from fixing application issues to cleaning up messes and maintaining machinery. If you don’t own the equipment, you won’t need to spend your valuable time addressing those issues.

A decorated spirits label applied with a DIY label applicator.

Make Sure Your Labels Match Your Applicator’s Requirements

Whether your invest in DIY equipment or hire an outside company, your labels will likely need to meet certain specifications.

As such, you’ll need to ensure that your equipment of professional applicator can accommodate certain label specifications. Details like roll sizes, container shape, and unwind requirements should all align with your choice of applicator. If they don’t, your labels will end up with visible issues – and that’s if they can even be applied in the first place.

No matter your choice of applicator, a good label printing company can help you quickly match your label specifications and set you up for success. Blue Label works directly with you to identify these criteria and quickly produce durable, eye-catching labels for your products. Your labels need to tell your story. Our team can make sure your story isn’t derailed by application issues and other problems.

Ready to invest in labels tailored for your exact needs? Contact us today to talk to one of our experts about your next label project.

5 Ways to Elevate Your RTD Beverage Packaging

Simply put, ready-to-drink beverages are a big deal. Sales for RTD beverages have grown notably year over year as people crave quality mixed drinks in cans and other convenient containers. Of course, that popularity makes it essential that your RTD packaging stands out from the crowd.

Eye-catching packaging can be the difference between your products flying off shelves or collecting dust. It’s critical that your hard seltzers, canned cocktails, or any other RTD beverages make a notable first impression on consumers. Here are five ways that your RTD packaging can promise an elevated beverage experience.

Three hard seltzer cans with attractive RTD beverage packaging.

Go Simple to Make a Big Statement

While craft cocktails can be complex creations, RTD beverages are meant to be just that – ready to drink. People want a quick, convenient way to enjoy a nice adult beverage. Your packaging should do its best to convey that type of message.

A minimalist design approach is a great way to make an impression. When people are looking to kick back with a quality drink, they don’t want or need an information overload on their cans. Using white space or opting for more modern fonts like sans serif will help you quickly and directly communicate everything people need to know, including the flavor, your brand, and more.

That sense of directness also gives your product a sense of transparency and authority. Every small detail is amplified, so you can really highlight key selling points like all-natural flavors or high-quality spirits. Simplicity also pairs well with any RTD beverages positioned as a health-conscious way to enjoy a few adult drinks.

Don’t Slack on Personality

Simple doesn’t mean boring. In fact, RTD packaging shouldn’t be afraid to be loud, proud, and fun.

Big brash colors are a great match for hard seltzers or canned cocktails meant for a day or night on the patio. Bright oranges, yellows, and greens are a perfect complement for any tequila seltzers or other drinks ready to make people appreciate a cold beverage on a warm day. Full color printing can help translate your aesthetic with bright, summery colors to capture your ideal brand look no matter the size of your company.

Stunning colors aren’t the only way to showcase your product’s personality. Different decorations can make a massive impact for the design of your containers. Finishes like matte or glossy laminates will add both elegance and durability to your RTD container. Meanwhile, a soft touch laminate will even make your label feel different, giving your drinks an added edge for intrigued consumers.

A peach bellini breeze from Figleaf Brewing Co with attractive RTD can packaging.

Maximize Your Materials

It’s important not to overlook just how much your materials impact the look of your RTD cans. When it comes to RTD labels, you’re mainly dealing with a film material that will work well in coolers, fridges, and fill lines. Of course, that still means you have plenty of options to optimize your design.

Shrink sleeves are one such eye-catching option. These labels allow you to add a “second skin” that conforms to the shape of the container. The effect gives your label an extremely professional 360-degree look akin to the Whiteclaws and Trulys of the world that’s extra impressive to consumers.

Sometimes your materials can help support your design in different ways as well. For example, you can utilize metallic labels to create a faux foil stamping that will not only look impressive, but also cost you less than the actual decorative effects. Holographic labels are another stunning material that can add a ton of pop to attract your consumers’ eyes.

Show Off All Your Different Products

People love options. Fortunately, you can leverage your packaging to showcase all your different products.

Whether you has an assortment of flavors or styles of RTD beverages, it’s important to give each product a distinctive, yet cohesive look. For example, you can use the same base design and give each flavor a distinct color – a bright green for a lime-flavored tequila seltzer just makes too much sense. These variations will not only give each product its own look, it’ll make for an eye-catching sight for the ever-popular mix packs.

Of course, you also need to balance variety with budget. Different products call for different labels, which can lead to added fees and minimum order requirements with traditional printing means. Fortunately, digital technology allows you to mix and match multiple orders into a single order to order exactly the amount of labels you need for each flavor and take advantage of the lower ‘per thousand’ unit cost.

A six-pack of with purple RTD packaging.

Work With the Right RTD Packaging Experts

It’s important to find partners who can bridge the gap balance quality, durability, and quick turnarounds for your business. That level of expertise and customer service is why companies turn to Blue Label Packaging for their product labels.

Our experts have worked with more than 1,000 breweries and distilleries and know what it takes to print refined, cost-effective RTD labels whether you’re expanding your current product line or transitioning to a new container. Better yet, we can promise turnaround times of five business days so that you get your labels when you need them.

Ready to invest in the perfect RTD labels? Contact us today to make sure your RTD beverages stand out from the competition.

What is a Release Liner and How Does It Impact Your Label?

There’s more to your labels than what your customers see. Every label is made up of multiple components that play a specific role. While most consumers will see your label material or decorative elements, there’s one key component that makes sure your labels get to where they need to go: the release liner.

What is a Label Release Liner?

To get to the bottom of a release liner’s meaning and role, it’s important to understand how a label is constructed. These are the four main layers of a label from top to bottom.
A breakdown of the different layers of a label, including the release liner.

As you can see, the release liner serves as the base layer for any roll of pressure sensitive labels. This release liner is a thin sheet with a silicone layer that allows adhesive to release the roll so that it can be applied to another surface. If it weren’t for the release liner, also known as a carrier, your labels would simply stick to each other or something else before you could transport it to the next application.

The Different Types of Release Liners

Like label materials, there are different types of release liners available for use. Each of these carriers have different advantages depending on your applicator and other product factors. While there are a variety of options, there are three types of release liners that are common for product labels.

  • PET (polyester)
  • Calendered Kraft paper
  • Polykraft paper

PET release liners

A PET release liner is made with polyester film to create a carrier that’s extremely smooth. A major advantage of PET release liners is that they don’t break as easily as a paper liner. That strength makes PET release liners a great choice for high-speed applicators.

Another benefit of PET release liners is that they’re great for wet applications. For example, beer cans are typically soaking wet by the time they reach the labeling line, so that added durability is a major positive for any adverse applicating environments. PET is also thinner than the usual release liner papers. As such, a standard 1.2 mm PET release liner will allow you to get more labels on a roll and take up less space during shipping and storage.

Calendered kraft paper release liners

While film release liners have their advantages, paper carries are still extremely common for labels in multiple industries. Super calendered kraft (SCK) papers are typically bleached white and are commonplace in the U.S. as many applicators are made to accommodate papers.

The reason why businesses commonly turn to SCK release liners extends beyond paper being an old standby for label carriers. A paper being “calendered” means that it’s polished, so an SCK is smoother than regular paper liners. That smoothness and the ability to work with the majority of applicators makes SCK a go-to option for product labels.

Polykraft release liners

A polykraft release liner is essentially a mid-point between PET and paper label carriers. Polykraft is a brown, unbleached paper that’s a little thicker and heavier than standard kraft papers. This extra heft and thickness is because polykraft has a very thin layer of polypropylene married to the paper.

The advantage of Polykraft is that the layer of polypropylene makes the material more stable and sturdy. These qualities help with moisture barriers while still allowing companies to invest in paper liners. As such, Polykraft is typically used in wine labeling and other industries that are used to paper release liners, but still need that added stability to deal with moisture.

Rolls of labels with different release liners.

How to Identify the Right Label Release Liner

While there are multiple label release liners available, there are a few different factors that can impact which one is best for your needs. To identify the right carrier for your labels, you’ll want to weigh the following considerations.

Your label applicator

The biggest factor in which release liner you should use depends on how you’re going to apply those labels. An applicator reads the gap between labels to know when the applicator should dispense a label. Once the sensor reads a gap, it will dispense a label so that it catches a can, bottle, or any other container. However, the wrong release liner can lead to label application issues.

Simply put, some applicators aren’t made to read clear liners. New applicators are built to accept clear release liners, which means PET carriers shouldn’t pose problems. However, you would need to opt for SCK, Polykraft, or some other opaque release liner if your application process isn’t made to handle clear carriers.

Environmental factors

The applicator isn’t the only potential challenge during the application process. You also need to make sure your release liner works with your applicating conditions.

Different application environments pose certain problems for your release liners. Wet conditions are the biggest issue, especially for paper carriers. If a beer can or some other container is soaking wet, that can cause carriers without enough moisture resistance to tear. As such, you’ll need to invest in a PET release liner or another solution that can hold up to your applicating environment.

Clear labels

Some liner issues are less obvious than others. While the carrier is removed before your labels are applied, it can still have a visual impact on clear labels if you’re not careful.

If you want to use clear labels, its best to use some form of film release liner. The reason for this is that running a clear label on a paper liner can make the label look cloudy. This cloudiness occurs because the label adhesive takes the shape of the carrier. Even a super calendered paper has small fibers that can impact the adhesive. Because of this, it’s best to use a PET release liner that has no imperfections and will enable true clarity.


Invest in the Perfect Labels from Top to Bottom

While they don’t end up on your products, different types of release liners play a pivotal part for your labels. That’s why Blue Label strives to provide the perfect labeling solution for your products. Our experts work with you to uncover any opportunities and potential issues to make sure every layer of your label is perfect for your needs.

Ready to invest in the right labels for your products? Contact us today to talk about your next label project.

Digital vs. Flexo Printing: Which is Right for Your Labels?

Quality labels play a pivotal role in any product. However, there’s more than one way to manufacture your custom labels.

Digital and flexographic label printing are both viable ways to make product labels, but it’s not always obvious why one would be better than another for your business. Let’s break down the differences between the two printing processes (and how you don’t always have to decide between the two).

Flexographic Printing vs. Digital Printing: How They Work

The differences between flexographic and digital label printing largely boil down to how the two processes work. Each method aims to accomplish the same task – print product labels. However, the way they go about this task is very different.

The flexo label printing process

Flexo label printing is the old-school approach where ink is physically pressed onto either film or paper. This process uses custom rubber printing plates to stamp your design onto the label material. These plates are attached to cylinders so that the flexographic printing press can make multiple imprints on a roll of labels. Larger projects will sometimes avoid the rubber plates and engrave the label design directly on metal cylinders instead to accommodate massive quantities.

The problem with flexographic printing is that its various costs can add up rather quickly. Every color will need its own plate for your design, which means you’ll need multiple custom plates for every design.

That number increases dramatically if you have multiple SKUs. Let’s say you need labels for four different SKUs and each of them needs four different colors. That’s 16 total plates that you’ll need to pay for if you go with flexographic printing.

There are additional costs associated with this flexographic printing. Time and labor is a factor as well. Flexographic printers need to align each plate to create a perfect imprint on each piece. This process isn’t short – some jobs can take days to set up properly. Testing these setups also requires a lot of waste material. It’s not uncommon that 15 percent or more of your material costs go toward waste accrued during flexographic setup.

So why would businesses turn to flexographic label printing if there are so many initial costs and delays? This method is well-suited to handle large-scale label printing projects. Larger quantities help amortize initial costs over a long print run of labels, which is why massive businesses, like Budweiser, use flexographic printing for millions of labels. However, that same scale is less likely to be realistic for small to mid-size businesses.

A digital printing press used for digital vs. flexo printing.

The digital label printing process

Digital printing eliminates the need for plates in favor of using technology. Digital label printing presses read art files that lay out your design and call out specific Pantone colors and other key instructions. The printer then uses an electrophotographic process to transfer images onto a material. HP Indigo printers use heated blankets to blend electronically charged particles into a smooth film. This process creates a defined image on the blanket, which in turn is transferred onto the label substrate.

Because of the lack of custom plates and lengthy setups, the digital printing process offers businesses a lot more flexibility and cost-saving capabilities. Because of how they’re made, flexographic presses will use a lot of spot colors. Digital presses do CMYK blending to achieve full color label printing without the need to source different inks for every hue.

Digital label printing is also a much more scalable option. By cutting out tooling and setup costs, digital printing can help accommodate your label needs with quicker turnaround times. That time savings means that you’ll get your labels sooner than you would if you had to wait for new plates any time you adjust your order.

While digital offers several advantages, there are some occasions when the flexographic printing technique is necessary. For example, plates are needed to apply flood or spot coats onto labels. In addition, digital printing technology hasn’t quite come far enough to accommodate more than a few select metallic, fluorescent, and pastel inks. Until those specialty inks are developed, you may need some form of flexographic process to enjoy those types of capabilities.

A digital label printer utilizing flexo label printing techniques for finishing.

Combine Digital and Flexographic Label Printing for the Best of Both Worlds

While both digital and flexographic label printing offer certain advantages, you don’t necessarily have to settle for one or the other. Digital label printing is adaptable enough to include flexographic into its finishing processes so that you can enjoy the benefits of both.

During the digital label printing process, printed labels go through a finishing machine to put on final touches such as decorative treatments or print protection. However, some digital label printing companies have flexographic stations incorporated into the finishing process to address specific needs like flood coats or fluorescent inks.

As with traditional flexographic printing, these added finishing processes will still require plates for any custom designs. However, the costs and time associated with tooling and setup are drastically reduced since you’re only making a single plate. Flood coats of white ink or label varnishes won’t require any plates either, as they require a solid stamp that’s already available in-house. In short, you’re still able to achieve the benefits of flexographic printing without all the extra investment or delays.

Find the Right Label Printing Partner for Your Company

Both digital and flexographic label printing have their advantages, but it’s important to find the right solutions for your product labels. At Blue Label, our digital label printing technology and flexographic finishing stations allow you to invest in the best, most cost-effective labels for your company.

We strive to do more than simply print labels. Our experts work with you throughout the ordering process to enhance your designs and identify potential issues before they become a problem. Thanks to our flexibility, we can deliver stunning labels that cut out costly tooling costs and lengthy turnaround times. Contact us today to have Blue Label get to work on your next label project.

How to Determine Your Label Unwind Position

The last thing you want is an upside-down label. It’s extremely frustrating to invest time and creativity in stunning labels only to have an improper unwind lead to application issues. Let’s break down how to figure out the proper roll direction and make sure your labels are correctly applied to your containers.

What is Unwind?

Unwind, also known as label roll direction, is the dimension or edge of the label that comes off the roll first. Labels come in long rolls that are fed through an applicator. As the roll runs through the machine, the labels will come off the roll in a specific direction.

If you hand apply your labels, the roll direction isn’t all too important – you’ll simply peel off the labels and place them appropriately on your container. The machine application process isn’t so simple.

Different applicators place labels onto containers in different ways – left to right, top to bottom, etc. Your unwind needs to accommodate your applicator so that the roll feeds your labels into the machine in the appropriate label wind direction every single time. If it doesn’t, you could end up with labels that are upside down or sideways.

A selection of label rolls with different unwinds.

How to Choose Which Unwind is Best for You

Improper label orientation is a major issue for any business. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to address the problem and determine your proper label roll direction.

When you don’t know which unwind is right for your business, it’s best to go straight to the source. Each label application machine will have specific instructions on the correct label roll direction. If you apply the label in house, you can refer to the label applicator’s instruction manual or contact the manufacturer. If you have a third-party applicator, they should be able to tell you which unwind is needed for your label rolls.

The Different Label Unwind Positions

There are a variety of unwind directions for labels. These unwinds are named after the edge of your label that will come off the roll first. You can use this handy label unwind chart to visualize the different roll directions.

A label unwind chart with the four different label roll directions.

The unwind direction for labels on the underside of a label roll.

It’s also important to remember that the labels can be placed on the inside or the outside of the roll depending on the applicator. Labels printed on the outside of the roll are considered “wound out” while labels printed on the inside of the roll are “wound in.” Because of this, there are eight possible label unwind directions for your setup. As always, you’ll want to double-check your applicator’s instructions before assuming that the labels should be printed and die cut on the outside of the roll.

Maximize Your Label Costs Associated to Unwind

The unwind isn’t the only way your applicator impacts your product labels. Applicators can require a specific roll size, also known as “Max OD” (Maximum Outer-Diameter). The roll size and unwind position have a direct impact on the efficiency of your label printing process.

The dimensions and positioning of your custom label can lead to unused roll space that will add to your total label costs if you’re not careful. That’s why it’s important to partner with a label printing company that help you maximize label space and mitigate any application issues ahead of time.

At Blue Label, we work directly with you to identify potential issues and provide cost-effective solutions to ensure you get the best possible eye-catching labels for your products. Contact us today to get your next product label project underway.