4 Tips to Elevate Your Whiskey Bottle Label Design

People aren’t supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but that doesn’t stop them from judging a whiskey by it’s label. According to a Harris Poll study, a whopping 85 percent of shoppers said that product packaging impacted their purchase decisions. That visual edge is why intriguing packaging is crucial whether you sell your craft spirits in liquor stores, online retailers, and anywhere else people can procure your whiskies.

Simply put, an eye-catching whiskey bottle label is essential for everything from bourbons to wheaters. Let’s break down a few ways that you can elevate your custom whiskey label design so that your spirit catches consumers’ attention.

A bottle of Uncle Nearest with a hot foil stamped whiskey bottle label design.

Material Selection

Paper is a classic choice for a reason. Paper is incredibly versatile and allows you to play with a variety of textures to capture your desired aesthetic. These options include:

  • Linen
  • Eggshell
  • Felt/velvet
  • Estate
  • Metalized
  • Cobblestone
  • Ever-opaque

No matter the option, paper gives you a base to help you tell your product’s story. Want to position your whiskey as a premium, high-class spirit? A matte-coated paper stock simply oozes with sophistication. Different textures can also give customers a more enjoyable tactile experience – and that’s especially important when touch can help influence buying decisions.

While paper is a traditional choice, there are plenty of films that can help you enhance your label’s look. Clear, metallic, and other specialty films allow you to incorporate the material into your design, whether you want to show off more of your product or add a more modern, flashy element to your packaging. Films also have the added benefit of water resistance, whereas paper will eventually break down.

Font Selection

The words on a whiskey label do a lot more than provide information. The fonts you choose say a lot about how you want customers to perceive that product, so make sure to pick a personality that suits your spirit.

Distilleries are opting to break the mold with more modern fonts like sans serifs or slab serifs. Traditionally, a script font is typically very elegant and sophisticated, whereas a serif font in more traditional and reliable. Those two routes are normal choices for whiskey labels, and for good reason – people naturally equate them as a trusted font for a premium product.

As long as your whiskey is positioned appropriately, this bold approach can give your product a unique aesthetic that let consumers know what type of experience to expect – just make sure that you keep your text legible regardless of your choices.

Color Considerations

Just like fonts, your choice of colors play a pivotal part in showcasing your product’s personality. According to research, 85 percent of shoppers name color as a primary reason for why they buy a particular product. That level of impact makes your color choices extremely important.

Using color psychology can help you influence consumers through your unique whiskey bottles and whiskey label design. For example, the following hues are associated with the following feelings and can help you convey a certain attitude for your target audience.

  • Red – Bold and passionate
  • Orange – Energetic and invigorating
  • Yellow – Joyful and optimistic
  • Green – Safe and nurturing
  • Blue – Serious and trustworthy
  • Purple – Successful and creative
  • Pink – Youthful and feminine
  • Brown – Reliable and rugged
  • White – Clean and pure
  • Grey – Versatile and mature
  • Black – Luxurious and elegant

A whiskey label design for Nathan Green 1870.

Label Decoration

When it’s time to take your label to the next level, decoration is your best friend. Some strategic decorations not only turn your whiskey bottles into a visual spectacle, but also add to the perceived value of your product. That extra decorative flair comes in many forms, all of which can enhance your labels in different ways.

  • Embossing – Create a three-dimensional image by pressing a custom pattern into your label material. The resulting raised surface creates an intriguing design that customers can both see and feel.
  • Hot foil stamping – Stamp a special design into your label with a specialty foil. This process allows you to create multifaceted compositions through metallic, holographic, matte, and other decorative imprints.
  • Spot varnish – Coat your entire label or highlight specific parts of your design with a protective liquid coating that cures and dries in a variety of different forms, including matte, gloss, or soft touch.
  • High-build silk screen – Finish your design with a special ink layer that adds a stunning glossy pattern that raises above the rest of your design.

Communicate Quality Through Your Whiskey Bottle Label Design

Let’s face it – whiskey drinkers aren’t lacking for options. That’s why it’s absolutely essential that your whiskey label design not only attracts attention, but looks as good as what’s in your bottles. That need for premium packaging is why Blue Label works with craft distilleries to print professional-quality eye-catching labels that elevate your branding and communicate the quality and character of your whiskey.

Ready to make your custom whiskey label design a reality? Contact us today to get the stunning labels and unmatched customer service your distillery deserves.

Online Alcohol Packaging: How to Prepare Your Wine and Spirits Labels for Ecommerce Success

Over the years, more people have turned to an increasingly popular destination for wine and spirits: the internet.

Online sales of wine and spirits have steadily increased over the years, making the digital market a prime place for vintners and distillers to sell their products. That trend took off even further when wine ecommerce and other online alcohol sales jumped 234 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether you use a third-party marketing platform or sell wine or spirits directly from your website, it’s important to make sure your custom labels are just as effective on smartphones and monitors as they are in stores. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to help your wines and spirits succeed online.

An ecommerce spirits label for Skagway.

4 Tips for Online Wine and Spirits Labels

The average consumer already has an incredibly short attention span – that attention span only grows shorter online. When you have roughly eight seconds to make an impression, a great product label can be your best friend.

It’s important to remember that certain aspects of your label may not translate well online. As such, you’ll want to keep ecommerce in mind when you put together a label design for your wine or spirits. Here are five ways that you can help set up your wine and spirits labels for online success.

Color them impressed

A bland bottle typically doesn’t sell well in online stores. A pop of color is one key element that catches ecommerce users’ eyes. A flash of red or a burst of yellow can stop a consumer from aimlessly scrolling past your products so that they will check out what you have to offer.

In terms of what colors to use, it really depends on what type of message you want to send. Colors can influence consumer’s emotions by making them associate with certain feelings. For example, a green label can inspire feelings of relaxation and happiness. Meanwhile, red signifies strength or power. Try to find a color that helps you tell your product’s story – just make sure it’s something that really stands out in an ecommerce store.

It’s also important to note that while vibrant colors can help you stick out in a crowded ecommerce store, too many colors can have the opposite effect. Labels with multiple interlocking colors can appear muddy in a small image. In addition, certain color combinations can help your label pop out to consumers and make it easier to read the text. A color wheel can help you identify opposite colors that still work with each other. Test out how your potential label would look in a product image to make sure it’s just as stunning online as it will be in person.

Clearly identify your wines and spirits

Once you have someone’s attention, it’s critical that users quickly identify your products. Any seemingly missing detail can lead an ecommerce customer to click away to a different product.

Make sure users can immediately recognize your brand name and product designation. While these details may seem prominent in your design, consider how easy it would be to read them in a small product image on a phone screen or monitor. Amplifying these details will help users recognize who you are and what your product is, be it a malbec, a straight rye whiskey, or something else.

Make a big impression

A lot of small, ornate details may look great in person, but it may get lost in a small product image nestled amidst dozens of other bottles. If you want your wine or spirit to truly stick out in an ecommerce setting, it’s time to amp up your design.

There are a few ways that you can go about enhancing your design. As mentioned earlier, large pops of color are one way to make an immediate impression. There are also special printing capabilities that can add an extra dimension to your design. Utilizing hot foil stamping is one way to make your wine and spirits labels look more sophisticated, elegant, or flashy for anyone who scrolls by your products.

While small design details might not show up on small product images, that doesn’t mean you should abandon them altogether. These elements can still make an impression on customers once they receive their bottles. A rougher paper wine stock or an embossed pattern may not show up on screens, but it can add an extra dimension to wow consumers once they get a hold of your bottles.

Follow barcode best practices

While your design is a major factor for ecommerce success, it’s critical not to forget about another key purpose of your wine and spirits labels. Online retailers typically require product labels to include Universal Product Codes (UPC) for scanning and identification purposes. As such, you’ll want to ensure that you follow barcode best practices for your wine and spirits labels.

If you’re not careful, you may accidentally set up your barcodes for failure. There are a few steps you can take to make sure that your barcodes are ready for business.

  • Maintain a quiet zone. Make sure that the area around your label’s barcode is clear of any texts, graphics, or other printed elements.
  • Use a simple color scheme. Try to avoid warm colors that won’t work well with red lasers. The safest choice is to stick with black text on a white box.
  • Utilize proper barcode sizing. Keep your barcode somewhere between the minimum and maximum recommended barcode sizes.
    • Minimum – 1.175” wide by .816” high
    • Maximum – 2.938” wide by 2.04” high
  • Send barcodes in the right formats. Once your label design is ready, you’ll need to send a few of your barcodes to your printing company in a few different forms.
    • An image file of the barcode you’ve received from the provider
    • An Excel document with a list of UPC numbers
    • A PDF or EPS of the barcodes

A group of colorful wine ecommerce labels.

Find the Right Printing Partner for Your Wine and Spirits Labels

Once you have your labels ready for online success, it’s time to find a label printing company. At Blue Label, we have the experts and technology to help you get the most out of your packaging.

Our team strives to not only enhance your designs, but also make sure that everything is right before we print your full order. We can work with you to check your art files and identify the best, most cost-effective solutions for your wine and spirits. Contact us today to invest in stunning wine and spirits labels.

3 Reasons Why the TTB Turned Down Your COLA (and How to Avoid Them)

In the beverage world, a label denial can prove quite problematic for any new beer, wine, or spirit. No matter which or the three products your company makes, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) requires you to apply for a Certificate of Label Approval/Exemption (COLA) before that specific product ever hits the market.

Of course, this requirement means you need to play by the TTB’s rules. This process applies to your initial application for a COLA and if you make future changes to your labels – all it takes is a single TTB audit to pull your products from shelves. There is a lot of information required on wine labels and other alcoholic packaging, so the TTB will pay close attention to make sure everything is in the right place.

TTB regulations can seem a bit overwhelming, but a little guidance can help you properly prep your beer, wine, and spirits labels. It also helps to know about a few particular COLA pain points. Here are three common reasons why the TTB may turn down your COLA.

The Government Warning Statement isn’t Right

One of the easiest mistakes to make involves the mandated government warning. Any product that contains at least 0.5 percent alcohol by volume requires a government warning on its label. That warning reads as follows.

  • 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.

Seems simple right? The tricky part is that the TTB is very particular about the presentation of this warning. The warning should read exactly as it does above, including how the first two words are bolded and capitalized. Even a missing or misplaced comma can result in a failed COLA.

In addition, the TTB has specific format requirements for the warning. First, the warning itself must be “readily legible under ordinary conditions” and appear in a contrasting background. Second, the TTB sets the following minimum required type sizes depending on the the size of the container:

  • Eight or fewer fluid ounces – Minimum character size of one millimeter
  • More than eight fluid ounces and up to three liters – Minimum character size of two millimeters
  • More than three liters – Minimum character size of three millimeters

Finally, the TTB sets a maximum number of characters per inch depending on the type size of your text.

  • One millimeter – No more than 40 words per inch
  • Two millimeters – No more than 25 words per inch
  • Three millimeters – No more than 12 words per inch

Three cans of beer that got their labels COLA approved.

The Net Contents Are Improperly Displayed

Another potential pain point for COLA applications involves just how much fluid your containers, well, contain. Beer, wine, and spirits all have different standards when it comes to net contents, so it’s important to hone in on the specific rules for your particular product and label them appropriately.

Net contents for beer labels

For beer labels, the TTB has a variety of net contents ranges. As such, the TTB requires you to list net content depending on which range your product falls under:

  • Use fluid ounces or fractions of a pint for containers with less than a pint
  • Use “1 pint, 1 quart, or 1 gallon” for those exact measurements
  • Use either fractions of a quart or pints and fluid ounces for containers with more than one pint, but less than one quart
  • Use either fractions of a gallon or a mix of quarts, pints, and fluid ounces for containers with more than one quart, but less than one gallon
  • Use gallons and fractions thereof for containers with more than one gallon

Net contents for wine labels

While beer regulations for net contents allow for a wide range of sizes, wine follows a set list of options. Wine bottles must abide by the TTB’s authorized standards of fill. This means that wine containers must hold one of the following amounts of fluid.

  • 50 milliliters
  • 100 milliliters
  • 187 milliliters
  • 375 milliliters
  • 500 milliliters
  • 750 milliliters
  • 1 liter
  • 1.5 liters
  • 3 liters

According to the TTB, containers with less than a liter of wine should state net contents in milliliters, while those with more than a liter should use liters and decimal portions rounded to the nearest hundredth of a liter (ex. 1.5 liters). In addition, the text for net contents should use the following sizing rules:

  • At least 1 mm for containers with 187 milliliters or less
  • At least 2 mm for containers with more than 187 milliliters

While the TTB has the set authorized amounts at the moment, that may change in time. The TTB released a notice in July to consider the elimination of all standards of fill except for a 50 milliliter minimum and a 3.785 maximum. The period for public comments on the notice closed Oct. 30, so the TTB should make a ruling at some point in the future after it weighs public feedback.

Net contents for spirits labels

Like wine, spirits containers have certain standards of fill. However, these standards differ slightly depending on your specific container.

  • Bottles and other non-can containers
    • 50 milliliters
    • 100 milliliters
    • 200 milliliters
    • 375 milliliters
    • 750 milliliters
    • 1 liter
    • 1.75 liters
  • Non-resealable metal containers in the general shape and design of a can
    • 50 milliliters
    • 100 milliliters
    • 200 milliliters
    • 355 milliliters

The TTB does make some exceptions to the standards of fill for specialty products like bitters, cordials, and other products. Regardless, any containers of 200 milliliters or more require the net contents to be at least one-quarter inch in height (containers with less than 200 milliliters are unspecified).

A row of Rockmill Brewery beers on a shelf, each of which received TTB label approval.

You Added New Text without Approval

It’s pretty common to change part of your label at some point. Between updating some of the language or adjusting your design, you may want or need to reprint your label. Some changes are completely fine according to the TTB, such as the following examples.

  • Delete non-mandatory label information, graphics, and other elements
  • Reposition approved label information
  • Change colors, shapes, and proportionate sizes of labels
  • Adjust type size, font, and spellings of words as long as it complies with regulations
  • Change the net contents statement for new container sizes
  • Change the mandatory statement of alcohol content as long as the change is consistent with the class and type designation

While those changes won’t lead to any issues, there are others that are off limits when done without the TTB’s knowledge. If you make a change that’s not on the allowed list and the TTB audits your products, they can pull the offending products due to non-compliance. As such, you’ll want to obtain a new COLA depending on your planned changes.

Make Your Beer, Wine, and Spirits Labels Shine with the Right Printing Company

Once you get your COLA approved for a brand-new label or some changes to an existing design, it’s time to find a good digital label printing company to get your products ready for sale. Blue Label has the state-of-the-art equipment and printing experts to help you determine the right materials and printing capabilities for you to get the most out of your label design.

Ready to dazzle your customers with quality beer, wine, and spirits labels? Contact us today to talk to us about your next label printing project.

Why Don’t Beer, Wine, and Spirits Labels Have to Disclose Ingredients or Serving Facts on Labels?

It didn’t take long for someone to make waves in the beer labeling world in 2019. Just 11 days into the year, Anheuser-Busch InBev announced that Bud Light would feature serving-facts labels on its boxes starting in February.

While the move may not seem noteworthy for people unfamiliar with the rules and regulations of beer labels, the announcement is notable for one big reason: beer doesn’t need to divulge that information on its packaging. In fact, alcohol in general is exempt from disclosing ingredients and nutritional facts that are commonplace on labels for packaged food products.

So why is it that beer, wine, and spirits labels are exempt from listing nutritional information when those products have just as many–if not more–calories and carbohydrates as juice or other typical beverages? It turns out there’s one big reason why alcohol labels don’t require nutrition or ingredients labels: tradition.