How to Get Started Digital Printing and Labeling

Before a label can be produced, before it can be priced, and really it before the artwork is drawn, it has to be designed. What does that mean? It means the correct materials must be selected, the shape of the label has to be determined, options like hot foil stamping and embossing have to be evaluated, and a slew of other decisions must be made. At first it seems overwhelming, and it is. There are myriad options when it comes to labeling your product, never mind deciding on the packaging format in general. So how do you evaluate your options? How can you be sure you’re getting the best possible bang for your buck? That’s a good question.

Different printers have different strategies for guiding you through this process. The first, and most common, is that a printer will ‘steer’ the customer to the label that is easiest for them to produce. This doesn’t usually create a bad label, but it does create a label that looks suspiciously similar to everyone else’s. When printers are left to their own devices they will choose the most common materials, the simplest printing methods, and the easiest finishing processes. This creates a label that is designed around the printers’ costs, not around your brand’s identity.

Recently, with the introduction of smooth online interfaces, printers have begun to embrace a second option. In this approach you are being offered ‘options’ to ‘design’ your own label. Maybe you are given a choice between premium stock and regular stock, between two color and full color, matte or glossy finish. Basically, the printer is reducing the limitless options available to you down to a few yes or no questions. The idea here is to let the consumer feel like they are designing their own label, while only choosing between options that are convenient for the printer. While this is a better process than being given no choice at all, it still falls short in adequately representing the brand you have worked so hard to create.

Luckily, there is a third approach to designing a label. This approach begins with a discussion about what you are trying to achieve with your label. Are you trying to communicate a connection with craftsmanship? Do you want position yourself as a premium brand? Use the label to emphasize great graphic design? Establish your dedication to sustainability through your packaging? There isn’t a check box of questions to answer; these questions are answered through conversations about the products and brand. The printer listens to the client’s aspirations for the product and then can begin to discuss how to best translate those thoughts into the physical label. It’s the printer’s duty to listen to you, and use their knowledge of labels and print production to ensure that you are getting a product that is the best possible representation of your brand.

Which one of these approaches do we follow at Blue Label? The third. Call it consultative, call it conversational, call it whatever you like. But we can’t produce you a good label until we understand what you’re trying to achieve with it. We’d be more than happy to grab a beer, sit down, and talk about your company. It’s why we’re in business.