Pushing the Limit: What Can’t You Do with A Beer Label Design?

Brewers around the world are in a constant battle for people’s attention, whether their products end up on shelves, in coolers, or anywhere else that potential buyers may see their products. In a constant battle for attention, you may want to give your beer labels an extra edge to create a certain brand identity and attract consumers. However, that extra something in your design may be an issue when it comes to label approval.

Whether you’re trying to push some boundaries or simply be clever, your beer label design is ultimately judged by government. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has certain standards for what’s permissible on beer labels. As you may expect, there are a lot of practices that are prohibited for beer label design. The Code of Federal Regulations provides a very long, detailed list, so we’ll try and break down just what may land your design in hot water as succinctly as possible.

What Can’t You Put on a Beer Label?

When you’re trying to push the boundaries with your beer label, it’s important to make sure your design doesn’t conflict with any of the types of statements listed by the TTB. It’s important to note that “statements” applies to more than just text. Anything written, printed, graphic, or portrayed by some other means on a beer label, carton, or case is considered a statement of some sort. As such, any of the following types of statements can lead to the TTB denying your label design.

Untrue or misleading statements

Simply put, the TTB is going to turn you down if they think you’re lying on your label. The TTB considers a statement as untrue if it’s directly false, false by omission, generally ambiguous, or somehow misleading.

For example, a brewery positioning itself to be a microbrewery without meeting the legal definition of one can have its label denied for misleading consumers. Meanwhile, Kona Brewing Company was sued in California for misleading people to think that its beer was brewed in Hawaii. While Kona does use Hawaiian imagery and names, every label clearly states that the beer is not brewed on the island. Because of these statements, the TTB not find the labels misleading (although Kona did eventually agree to a settlement for the lawsuit).

Disparaging statements

While you may want to make a few snide comments about your competitors or some other person or entity, the TTB won’t let you make any statements they determine to be disparaging or hurtful. With that in mind, you may want to rename your batch of “At Least It’s Better Than [Blank] Schwarzbier.”

A Jackie O’s beer label featuring a likeness of a fictional person.

Obscenity or indecency

This section will likely be the biggest hurdle for any brewer trying to test some boundaries. According to the TTB, “any statement, design, device, or representation which is obscene or indecent” is prohibited. However, it’s not always clear what the TTB will consider off limits. This type of ruling is one of the hardest to judge because it depends on what a TTB representative finds obscene or indecent, not you or your customers.

Part of the issue with this type of prohibited statement is that various boards around the country have been inconsistent in past ruling. For example, The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board banned Founders Brewing Company’s Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale despite having already allowed the sale of Stone Brewing’s Arrogant Bastard Ale (the board eventually reversed its stance on Dirty Bastard after public outcry). As such, rulings on obscenity or indecency are up in the air, so be prepared to change your design or fight against the decision if your label might be construed as offensive in some way.

Improper guarantees or tests

Fortunately, guarantees are easier to identify than obscenity. Any element that provides some form of guarantee – aside from a money-back guarantee – is subject to denial if a TTB official finds that the guarantee may deceive consumers. The TTB will also deny any usage of analyses, standards, or tests that may mislead potential buyers. That means you can’t make a guarantee that your beer will provide short-term happiness, even if you did survey a small test group of patrons.

Names and likenesses

While you may have a great pun based on a celebrity’s names, that play on words can lead to a swift label denial (and potentially a cease and desist letter). The TTB bars the use of any names or likenesses of any prominent living individual or organization, which includes using any simulation or abbreviation to hint at the person or group. This practice is in place to prevent breweries from suggesting that certain people or organizations endorse a product.

For example, Hysteria Brewing Company in Maryland recently ran afoul of this section after using Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s likeness on a label after Jackson was named NFL MVP.

However, the TTB does provide some exceptions to this rule. Beer labels may use a person or organization’s name or likeness on a label if:

  • The individual or organization is engaged in the production of the beer (such as Rogue Ale’s Beard Beer).
  • A person of a trade or a brand name used the name of any living individual of public prominence, or existing private or public organization, in interest prior to Aug. 29, 1935.

Pretending to be a spirit instead of beer

Depending on your beer, you may want to utilize certain aspects of spirits on your beer label. However, it’s important not to make it seem like your beer is or contains a distilled spirit. Any statement or design element that suggests otherwise can lead to a label denial if the label does not make it clear that the beer is in fact just a beer. For example, a label that truthfully states that the beer was brewed in bourbon barrels is fine, but one that doesn’t contain any references to the product as a beer would is deemed as misleading.

Governmental connections and American insignias

You may want to show off that your beer is proud the be an American, but certain imagery or statements will lead to a quick denial by big brother. These infractions can come in a few forms:

  • The use of the American flag and any flags, seals, coats of arms, crests, and other insignia associated with the armed forces of the U.S.
  • The use of the word “bonded” and other variants that may imply governmental supervision over the production of the beer
  • The simulation or and other design made to resemble stamps for the U.S. or foreign governments

Health-related statements

It may seem funny to make a joke that a beer a day could keep the doctor away, but doing so on a label is a quick way toward having the TTB or some other board turn down your design. Using a health claim on a label is notoriously tricky regardless of product, so it’s best to avoid making any such statements if you’re hoping for label approval, even if that claim is made as a joke.

Shows of strength

Imagine that you brewed a lovely dark beer that clocks in at a relatively hefty ABV. You may want to present to potency of your porter by calling it “strong” on the label. Unfortunately, the TTB isn’t a fan of such language. Any words along the lines of “strong,” “high test,” “high proof,” or other statements that infer alcoholic strength is off limits on beer label unless such language is required by your state’s laws.

Numerals are also a potential pain point. While alcohol by volume statements may use digits, you can’t use numerals elsewhere on your label if it can be considered as a statement of alcoholic content.

A beer label design for Electric Brewing Co. with TTB approval.

What Happens if the TTB Denies Your Beer Label Design?

Let’s pretend that you came up with a great label design and submitted a Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) to the TTB, but the organization rejected your label. Not only is a rejection frustrating, it can also delay your plans since the TTB can take up to 90 days to process a label application. Some reasons for rejection will be easier to fix, such as removing untruthful statements or disallowed imagery. However, more subjective grounds for rejection like what is considered obscene is tricky.

If the TTB denies your application, you’ll either want to modify your design based on the group’s feedback or fight the ruling. One of the most prominent examples of such a fight was when the Michigan Liquor Control Commission found the name and label of Flying Dog Brewery’s Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA to be offensive. Flying Dog fought the ruling in various courts until the brewery came out victorious – in 2015 after a six-year battle.

Fortunately for Flying Dog, they had the means and determination to take that fight to court, but you may not want – or be able – to do the same. In that case, it’s better to regroup and think of an alternate solution. For example, Lagunitas Brewing Company made a beer called “The Kronik” that was initially approved in the state of California, but rejected when Lagunitas resubmitted the design in order to sell the beer in multiple states. Fed up with the agency’s inconsistency involving, Lagunitas renamed the beer “Censored” in protest.

Unfortunately, there isn’t always an exact answer as to what will or won’t be approved by the TTB. If you think there may be an issue, it’s always a good practice to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

My Label Got Approved – What Now?

First off, congratulations! Now that the TTB has signed off on your new label design, it’s time to make sure the finished product does your design justice. At Blue Label, we have the expertise and technology to provide the perfect labels for your beer cans or bottles. We’ll work with you on everything from identifying the right material for your performance needs to providing special printing capabilities that will highlight your design.

Ready to showcase your new beer label design? Contact us today to have us print quality beer labels for your brewery.

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.

4 Common Mistakes for CBD Labels

According to Forbes, the CBD market could reach $20 billion by 2024, which is great news for people in the cannabis market. However, that rise also invites more competition.

As the CBD market grows, more products will flood the market. This growth means that your CBD your products need to stand out from the rest of your competitors. That’s where a good CBD label can help. Proper packaging can be the difference from your product being just another item on the shelf or a big success. However, it’s easy to make a few notable label mistakes during the process. Here are four issues you should avoid for your CBD labels.

Some CBD Labels Don’t Include Legally Required Information

What’s tricky for CBD labels is that the federal government isn’t quite clear about the exact guidelines for these types of products. However, it’s a good idea to list out the following details to provide your audience with the right information.

  • The amount of active CBD per serving
  • A supplement fact panel that includes all ingredients
  • Net weight
  • The manufacturer or distributor name
  • Whether the CBD used is full spectrum, broad spectrum, or an isolate
  • A batch or date code
  • The suggested product use

Of course, there may be more to your labeling requirements than just that. CBD products may require some other information depending on how you classify the product. For example, a food product needs to follow the the regulations found in the FDA Food Labeling Guide. However, a healthy and beauty product needs to adhere to the FDA’s rules on cosmetic labeling. Once you take note of how your product is classified, you can then apply those labeling guidelines to your product in addition to including general compliance information for CBD.

Certain CBD Labels Deal with Font Issues

It’s hard to get your product’s message across when there’s something wrong with the type on your CBD labels. Text and font issues can prove problematic for any product. For CBD labels, a wrong font can not only muddle the look of your label, it can also land you into some compliance trouble.

When you deal with labeling requirements set by the FDA or some other administration, there are occasions where you need to use a certain font size or style. These rules are in place to ensure that certain details are easily read, so it’s best to abide by them. However, they may not be as simple as following a set font size.

For example, the FDA requires labels to use “a print or type size that is prominent, conspicuous and easy to read” for information panels. Seems simple right? Just wait, there’s more! The labeling guide also states that labels should “use letters that are at least one sixteenth (1/16) inch in height based on the lower case letter ‘o,’” except in the case of “very small food packages as discussed in 21 CFR 101.2(c) & (f).” Finding the exact type rules for your exact product may require some digging, but it’s still preferable to having a federal organization confiscate your products and fine you for improper labeling.

There are also occasions when the type used isn’t necessarily a legal issue, but does pose some design issues. This problem is especially true for CBD products sold in small containers that only provide a few inches of labeling space. At this point, you’ll need to balance both compliance and design to find a typography compromise [link to new typography tips post when it’s live] that showcases your brand without coming off as busy or boring. Take the label from Limitless CBD pictured below as an example. Despite not having much space to work with, Limitless’ design establishes a clear identity with legible text, all while meeting regulations.

Two Limitless CBD labels for premium CBD hemp packaging.

Other CBD Labels Get Caught Making Health Claims

There may be a lot of studies that suggest that CBD has significant health benefits, but there isn’t enough existing information to convince the FDA of them. The amount of documented information required makes it tricky to legally make a health claim on a label for any product. For CBD products, it’s nearly impossible.

As of now, the FDA’s stance is that “there are many unanswered questions about the science, safety, and quality of products containing CBD.” This position means that federal law does not recognize CBD as a dietary supplement or as a substance that can help prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure serious diseases. The only exception to this is a single prescription CBD product that has been approved to treat rare forms of epilepsy.

Aside from that very specific breakthrough, the FDA will crack down on CBD labels that make health claims about cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or any other conditions. As such, it’s best to avoid these claims altogether on your packaging if you want to avoid potential legal intervention.

However, the potential dangers of health claims doesn’t mean that you can’t highlight other beneficial features. For example, it’s completely fine to state that your product is organic, GMO free, or something similar as long as your product meets the legal guidelines for such terms, such as the label for Ritual’s Nighttime Tincture pictured below.

Ritual CBD tincture featuring a label with an organic claim.

They Showcase CBD Too Much

As we mentioned eariler, the CBD market is booming at the moment. This has led to scores of new consumers trying to find the appropriate CBD product for them. That increase in potential customers is great if your product meets their needs. However, you have to be careful that your consumers see you as more than just another CBD product.

While a big ol’ “CBD” on the front of your product may attract the random customer, there’s something to be said for subtlety. If a consumer only knows you as “that CBD product I use,” what’s to prevent them from seeing you as interchangeable if a bigger, shinier CBD product emerges? Instead, it’s important to focus on designing your CBD label to focus on your brand and developing a relationship with your intended audience. This way you become a name to them, and it’s easier to create brand loyalty if they remember you as “ABC CBD” than “that green bottle that says CBD on it.”

CBD Social is a great example of establishing an identity that goes beyond the use of CBD. The label pictured below places the emphasis on why the product matter to consumers – extreme relief is awful enticing for someone dealing with pain – and uses CBD to supplement that message in an eye-catching design.

A trio of eye-catching CBD labels made for CBD Social products.

Invest in Professional CBD Labels for Your Products

In a fight for CBD supremacy, the products with the best labels have a massive edge. This is why investing in professionally made, custom product labels can help give your product the boost it needs to tell your story and build a loyal customer base.

At Blue Label, we have the digital printing technology and expertise necessary to create stunning CBD labels for your products. We work with you to determine the best materials and printing capabilities required to meet your performance and budgetary needs without sacrificing on style. If you need one, we can even refer you to our designer directory to find a professional who can balance the creative and legal aspects of your label design.

In a booming market, your CBD products deserve to look as good as they possibly can. Contact us today to talk to us about printing custom CBD labels for your products.

Bottle Labels for Essential Oils: What You Need to Know

The essential oil business is a multi-billion-dollar industry in the U.S. While that means there’s plenty of opportunity, it also means that there’s quite a bit of competition. That’s why it’s important to make sure your essential oil packaging makes a good first impression.

Of course, not just any essential oil labels will do. Not only do you need to make sure your labels look great, you also need to consider a few potential issues. From selecting waterproof labels that can stand up to the oil-based ingredients inside to making sure all labeling requirements are met to creating an eye-catching design, we break down a few considerations for investing in new bottle labels for your essential oils.

Fit Your Label to Your Bottle Size

Bottles come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Whether you distribute 5 ml roller bottles, 8 oz. bottles, or any size in between, you want to make sure that your label fits well on your container.

When it comes to proper label sizing, you should consider more than just how much your container can hold. You also need to plan for the specific dimensions of your bottles. Tall, thin bottles and short, wide bottles are going to require different label shapes, regardless of if they contain the same net quantity of essential oils.

The same label size won’t work for every container, but there’s an easy trick to give you a good idea of the right label measurements for your essential oil bottles. Cut a rectangular piece of paper and wrap it around your bottle. If it’s too big in either direction, trim it down until it fits, then measure your piece of paper. This will give you an approximation of the right dimensions when it comes time to ordering labels for your products.

Another important note about label sizing is that essential oil bottles can be rather small compared to packaging for other products. This means you’ll need to plan your design in a way that both fits the space allowed on your label and differentiates your products from your competition.

You will also need to use an aggressive adhesive. The small circumference of the container makes the label want to ‘pop off’ the bottle. This is because the natural rigidity of the material makes it want to return to its original shape. Be sure to ask about adhesive aggressiveness when you select materials.

A professional examining labels for essential oils.

Don’t Forget About FDA Regulations for Essential Oil Labels

There was a period when essential oils were largely ignored by the FDA. That came to an end in 2014 when the FDA sent warning letters to dōTERRA and Young Living, two notable essential oil companies, that their products were in violation of certain labeling regulations. As a result, you should consider whether your products fall under FDA guidelines and what that may mean for your labels.

Whether you consider essential oils to be a household item, cosmetic, food ingredient, or drug, the FDA regulates essential oil products based on the intended use. The FDA weighs a couple of factors to determine a seller’s intentions, including “claims made in the labeling, on websites, and in advertising, as well as what consumers expect it to do.” This means the FDA can have different expectations for label compliance.

Drugs

If your label makes some form of health claim, the FDA is going to consider your product as a drug even though oils are derived from plants. These claims include indicating your essential oils are meant “for a therapeutic use, such as treating or preventing disease, or to affect the structure or function of the body.” If you make these claims, you’ll need to get FDA approval through the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) before you can legally put them on the market.

Cosmetics

Essential oils can also fall under the guidelines for cosmetic products. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) defines cosmetics as a product that is somehow applied to the body for the purpose of “cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance.” That means even something that’s only meant to make you smell nice can be considered a cosmetic.

Essential oil products classified as cosmetics aren’t subjected to the same rigorous reviews as drugs. As a result, you don’t need to clear your products and labels with the FDA before you sell them. However, the FDA does provide a step-by-step labeling guide for cosmetics compliance and can act if a product’s labeling is false or misleading, or doesn’t include the following:

  • The name and address of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor
  • Net quantity of contents
  • A prominent statement of required information in terms that it is easily read and understood by consumers under customary conditions of purchase and use

A Combination of Both or Something Else Entirely

Depending on your scenario, you might have a combination of compliance concerns. For example, if you claim that your essential oils can both cleanse the skin and relax muscles, you’ll need to follow labeling guidelines for both cosmetics and drugs. However, the FDA shouldn’t have reason to classify your essential oils under the same guidelines if you don’t make any such claims.
In addition, the specific plants you use shouldn’t matter too much to the FDA aside from establishing a direct connection between an ingredient and a claim. Despite that, it’s always good to include an ingredients list along with the name and total contents of your product, even if you don’t make any claims.

There’s also one notable ingredient that will require some additional compliance consideration: cannabis. Any essential oils using cannabis extracts will also need to comply with additional regulations, which are documented in our post on cannabis label compliance.

Customize Your Essential Oil Labels to Stand Out in a Crowded Marketplace

Whether you sell your essential oils online or offline, the quality of your packaging makes a difference. Your packaging should make your essential oils stand out in a crowd, not blend in with everyone else.

Just because your label is tight on space or you don’t have a big budget doesn’t mean that you should skimp on style. Different label materials and special printing techniques can help your products appeal more to your audience, whether you want to add an eye-catching metallic shine through hot foil stamping or use a matte black stamp to emphasize certain aspects of your design.

Professionals checking a new run of essential oil bottle labels.

Protect Your Label Design Against Oily Contents

A great label is a perfect way to make a good impression on consumers. However, it’s important to take some measures to make sure your label stays great.

A damaged label is a serious issue for your products. One survey found that “58 percent of consumers stated that packaging damage would deter them from buying a product” and can even harm your brand’s reputation. This means that even small scratches pose big problems for businesses.

One potential threat for your essential oil labels is exactly what you’re trying to sell. Oil, along with water and other damaging substances, can wreak havoc on your label. Fortunately, label lamination and materials like waterproof synthetics will help your labels withstand interaction with everyday substances. Lamination also provides scratch resistance, so your designs don’t get scratched off over time. This will help ensure that your packaging looks great long after you apply your labels.

Order the Perfect Labels for Your Essential Oil Bottles

Good packaging is practically essential for making your products stand out from the competition. However, it’s important to work with a good label printing company to make sure your packaging brings out the best in your essential oil labels.

When it’s time to commit to custom essential oil bottle labels, Blue Label Packaging Company is here to help. Our digital printing technology and expertise allows you to invest in high-quality labels with a fast turnaround time of three-to-five days. While creating your essential oil labels, we know you won’t limit yourself to just one scent, so we can print different SKUs of the same product on the same order with variable data printing to avoid costly setups and delays.

Ready to invest in essential oil labels? Contact us today to talk to one of our experts about your labeling needs.

3 Ways to Make Your Cold Brew Labels Succeed

Cold brew is going through a hot spell. The cold brew coffee market is expected to see a combined annual growth rate of more than 27 percent by 2022, it makes quality packaging even more important than ever before.

With a growing market, your cold brew products will need to stick out amid the competition. Here are three ways that you can improve your cold brew labels to help your products succeed.

Make Sure Your Cold Brew Labels Stand Out

One of the first things you need to do is figure out a good labeling solution for your container. For bottles, that means you’ll might consider if you want to use a full-wrap label or a partial wrap with separate pieces for the front and back of your container. You may also want to add a bottleneck label to add some extra flair to your packaging. As for cans, you’ll want to decide how much coverage you want. If you want to add a “second skin” that conforms to the shape of your can, shrink sleeves are a good fit.

In addition to dealing with containers, you’ll need to focus on your design. If you’re looking for an edge to make your labels pop compared to your competition, a little science may help. There are multiple psychological elements that can help you create eye-catching labels, including the following four elements:

  • Font types
  • Layout design
  • Color psychology
  • Visual processing

Another way to help showcase your brand is to promote personality and be different from the typical competitors. Don’t be afraid to showcase your brand in certain light. If you want to position your product as a high-class cold brew, a sophisticated metallic foil or decorative varnish. If you qualify for organic status, consider including the organic seal to attract for environmentally and health conscious customers. Your label tells a story, so make sure your design shares the right message.

The cold brew bottle labels on display.

Make Sure Your Cold Brew Labels Perform Under Pressure

After investing time in making sure your cold brew label looks great, it’s important that they’re made to last as well. There are multiple factors that impact how long labels will last, so, you’ll want to identify any potential issues for your products. For cold brew labels, typical issues include moisture and scratches.

Like many beverages, it’s not uncommon to see cold brew containers in coolers or refrigerators. Whether they’re in direct contact with ice or water or just dealing with condensation, the presence of moisture can distort labels and even cause them to fall off your container. A water-resistant label like a film and an appropriate label adhesive can help your cold brew labels avoid these problems. If you really like the classic look of a paper label – which is quite understandable – you should invest in a material with a higher wet strength. Even the most water-resistant paper label will become fully saturated over time, so you’ll need to weigh the risks of your product’s environment with the rewards of that come with paper labels.

Scuffs and scratches are another potential issue. Surface damage can occur at many points during a product’s journey, from shipping and storage to an accidental fingernail scrape during consumption. Both paper and film labels are susceptible to the dangers of scuffing, so you should consider adding a protective laminate or varnish to help shield your label’s design from damage.

Make Sure Your Cold Brew Labels are Comply with Legal Regulations

As with any other food or beverage product, there are multiple regulations set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that you need to follow to keep your cold brew labels compliant. Certain features, such as “best by” and “sell by” dates, are optional, but there many required elements that you must display on your cold brew labels. These include:

  • Name of the product
  • Name and address of the manufacturer or distributor
  • Net quantity of contents
  • Ingredients list (including allergy-causing foods)
  • Nutrition facts
  • Any health claims

Each of the above requirements comes with specific rules that range from type and font size to specific layout instructions. Those details can be found in the FDA’s food labeling guide.

It’s also important to note that alcoholic cold brews have a whole different set of regulations to follow. If a beverage contains at least 0.5 percent alcohol by volume, it’s regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) instead of the FDA. This means any alcoholic cold brews must display the following information.

  • The name or trade name of the brewer
  • The net contents of the container
  • The nature of the product (such as “beer”)
  • The place of production
  • An official health warning statement that follows the legibility and type rules in the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations and reads:
    • 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.

A hand holding a cold brew can with a label.

Nail All Three Areas with the Right Label Printing Company

Once you figure out your design and know what it takes to keep your cold brew labels safe and compliant, you’re almost at the finish line. Now you just need a label printing company to make your labels a reality. Fortunately, we can help with that.

At Blue Label, we have the experts and technology to produce eye-catching beverage labels. We work with you to identify your needs and provide a label solution made specifically for your products. Contact Blue Label today to talk to one of our experts about how we can help your cold brews stand out in a growing market.

Images in this post are provided by Afficionado Coffee Roasters and Olympia Coffee.

E-Juice Label Compliance: 4 Tips to Keep Your Labels in Line with the FDA

It’s important for e-juice labels to look good for your customers, but they’re not the only people you need to consider when it comes to packaging. No matter what you do with your e-juice label design, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only cares about one thing: the law. Here are four ways that you can help make sure your e-juice labels stay compliant with the FDA.

Include the Right Warnings

Your product must include the following warning to comply with FDA guidelines:

  • “WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.”

Please note that the warning you place on your labels should completely match the FDA’s message, down to the capitalization and punctuation. That’s not the only stipulation, either. There are several requirements for this warning.

  • The warning must be located in a “conspicuous and prominent” place on both principal display panels on your package
  • Make up at least 30 percent of the space on each panel
  • Be printed in at least 12-point font size in either Helvetica or Arial bold type or another similar sans serif font
  • Use either black text on a white background or white text on a black background so the warning contrasts with the other printed material on the package

Another potential issue is that some e-juice containers are quite small. If your package is too small to include the warning statement, the FDA will require you to find a way to do so, even if it means adding an outer container like a box or a wrapper that can feature the warning.

An e-juice bottle featuring custom e-juice packaging.

Add Key Product Details

A warning isn’t the only text required on e-juice labels. Like labels for food, the FDA also stipulates that e-juice labels must include other important information as well. These include the following:

  • The name and address of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor
  • The weight, measure, or numerical count of the contents of a container
  • The percentage of both domestically and foreign-grown tobacco used in the product
  • The following statement: “Sale only allowed in the United States”

Don’t Appeal to Children

The FDA isn’t kidding around when it comes to protecting children from nicotine and tobacco products. The FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent out official warning letters to e-juice and e-cigarette companies back in 2018 about “labeling and/or advertising that cause [products] to resemble kid-friendly food products, such as juice boxes, candy or cookies, some of them with cartoon-like imagery.”

What the FDA considers as “marketing to children” can vary. Labels made to appear to like beverages or candies for children are considered misleading, with some examples of children even drinking e-juice because of the practice. Product names drawn from recognizable brands or treats are also in danger of drawing the FDA’s attention. Some examples of past offending products include:

  • “One Mad Hit Juice Box”
  • “Vape Heads Sour Smurf Sauce”
  • “V’Nilla Cookies & Milk”
  • “Whip’d Strawberry”
  • “Twirly Pop”

Labels featuring a warning for e-juice label compliance.

Stay Flexible

Even if your labels are currently compliant, it only takes one change to cause future packaging problems. Outdated labels do nothing but hurt your wallet and put you at risk for non-compliance. Fortunately, digital label printing can help you be ready for any necessary label changes.

If you ever need to update your warnings, ingredients, or other information, variable data printing allows you to use technology to manage your various SKUs. This means a single design layout and a variable data spreadsheet allows you to update sections of your labels when FDA regulations change instead of updating every single label design. Digital label printing also allows you to order smaller quantities so you don’t have to commit to a massive order that may burn you in the future when label regulations change.

Stay Compliant with the Right Label Printing Company

Compliance is only one part of the packaging puzzle. The look and performance of your labels play critical roles in the success of your product. For those, you’ll need the right label printing partner to help bring your e-juice labels to life.

At Blue Label, we have the experience and equipment to print the perfect labels for your products. We work directly with you to make sure your e-juice labels are right for your needs and compliance requirements. Contact Blue Label today to talk to us about printing e-juice labels for your products.

Wine Label Requirements for Geographical Information

Location is a big deal for wine labels. Not only can different regions impart certain qualities to wine, they can also allow you to market your bottles as products of those regions. Of course, the use of certain geographic information means your wine labels must abide by the rules.

Like every alcoholic product, labeling wine involves dealing with many regulations set by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Location information is no exception. Here’s what you need to know when using geographic information on your wine labels.

Mandatory Location Information for Wine Labels

Many of the rules pertaining to referencing specific locations are tied to optional wine label information. However, there are two location-based items that the TTB considers mandatory information for wine labels:

  • Country of origin
  • Name and address of the bottler and importer

Listing the country of origin is simple: name the country of origin for your wine on your label. At least 75 percent of the fruit used to make your wine must be from the country listed on the label. If you make a blend of American and foreign wine, you’ll need a “percentage of foreign wine” statement to reference how much of the wine is made from outside fruit (for example, “50 percent grape wine from Australia”).

Aside from the country of origin, you also need to include a name and an address. For American wines, this means the name and address of the bottler or packer preceded by either “bottled by” or “packed by.” For imported wine, you’ll need the name and address of the person or group responsible for importation in addition to the bottler or packer.

Rules for Optional Geographic Details on Wine Labels

While there aren’t many mandatory items regarding where a wine is sourced, made, and bottled, there are still other ways that you can highlight geographic location on your wine label. Details like an appellation of origin or geographically inspired brand names allow you to highlight specific regions on your label. However, the TTB has specific rules that you must follow if you choose to include these details.

Appellation of origin

An appellation of origin is simply a fancy name for the location where the dominant grapes used in a wine were grown. This appellation can be a country, state, county, or an American viticultural area (AVA).

A viticultural area is a defined grape-growing region in the U.S. that features specific geographic qualities, such as a unique soil makeup or weather conditions, that make its grapes different from other regions. At the start of 2019, there were 242 established AVAs, with 139 in California alone. Other countries also have their own versions of viticultural regions, although use of these will require you to follow the appropriate foreign government’s regulations in addition to TTB rules.

In order to use appellation of origins on a label, a wine is required to source a certain percentage of its grapes from that region. The percentage threshold differs depending on the region. Countries, states, and counties require you to use at least 75 percent of your grapes from the listed areas. That number rises to 85 percent for established AVA or their foreign equivalents. Some regions also set their own rules for grape usage. For example, California law requires wineries to source 100 percent of their grapes from the state in order to label their wines as from either the state itself or any of its geographical subdivisions.

While appellations of origin are initially optional, they become mandatory if you include certain pieces of information on your label. Each of these can include additional regulatory needs depending on what you use.

  • A vintage date
  • A varietal designation
  • A type designation of varietal significance
  • A semi-generic designation
  • An “estate bottled” claim
  • A geographic brand name

A wine label with an appellation of origin

Vintage dates

Wine labels with a vintage date must include an appellation smaller than a country. If a state or county is listed, at least 85 percent of the grapes must be from the same year as the date. That threshold rises to 95 percent for labels that list an AVA or a foreign equivalent.

Various varietal designations

There are multiple categories of wine. Varietal designations specify a specific type of dominant grape, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. The wine must contain at least 75 percent of the listed dominant grape to comply with TTB regulations.

Type designations of varietal significance are like varietal designations, except that they apply to fruit from a specific grape source and meet certain TTB requirements. For example, a Muscatel must contain at least 75 percent of its volume from Muscat grapes and qualify as a dessert wine per the TTB’s standards for identity.

Semi-generic designations revolve around wines based on well-known European regions. These names are permitted as long as you list the actual place of origin in conjunction with the semi-generic name (“American Burgundy,” “California Chianti,” etc.) and follow any wine restrictions set by the original country of origin for the style in question. For example, a semi-generic Marsala wine should contain between 14 to 24 percent alcohol.

Estate bottled claims

Any wine labeled as “estate” bottled must consist entirely of grapes grown on land owned or controlled by the winery. The grapes used should also be crushed and fermented in that same location. In addition, both the winery and the vineyard must exist in the same viticultural area listed on the label.

Geographic brand name

Like vintage dates, varietal designations, and estate claims, geographically based brand names require you to include an appellation of origin on your wine label. TTB rules also stipulate that brand names cannot mislead consumers in any way. That’s what landed California vintner Joe Wagner in trouble in 2018.

Wagner’s offending wines were named Willametter Journal and Elouan, both of which referenced Oregon viticultural areas on their product labels. The problem was that both labels read “Sourced From: Territory of Oregon” and were “vinted & bottled by The Willametter, Rutherford, CA.” According to The Washington Post, “federal law requires that such wines be labeled simply ‘Oregon,’ without use of more specific and prestigious American Viticultural Areas such as Willamette Valley.” As such, the TTB sided with the state of Oregon and ruled that Wagner could no longer use the appellation names on the offending wines since his names mislead consumers into thinking the wines were made in those regions.

Closeup on a wine label compliant with TTB regional rules.

Use Wine Labels to Showcase Your Wine Labels

Whether you want to call out geographic locations or not, your wine labels should stop consumers in their tracks. A good label printing company can make your labels tell a story that not only inspires people to buy your wine, but also come back for more.

No winery should compromise on label quality. At Blue Label, we work with you to determine the best way to produce eye-catching wine labels that are built to last and fit in your budget. Contact Blue Label today to talk to one of our experts about having us print labels for your wine.

The Shelf Life of Labels: 6 Factors That Impact How Long Your Labels Last

Nothing lasts forever, and that includes your product labels. Even the most attractive packaging can lose its luster over time, whether it’s because of a preventable accident or an unavoidable change. Damaged or outdated labels won’t help your business, so it’s important to know the factors that can impact the lifespan of your labels so that you make sure you get the most out of your investment.

Sunlight

You may enjoy a sunny day, but long-term exposure to the sun is a problem for your labels. Ultraviolet rays break down the chemical bonds found in inks over time, which essentially has a bleaching effect. As a result, exposure to sunlight causes your label designs to fade.

While you can’t completely protect you labels from sunlight, you can delay its effects. Label laminates and UV coatings add a layer of protection that lessens the effect of sunlight, like how sunscreen shields skin. While fading will still occur over time, these solutions notably slow down the process so your labels stay vibrant for as long as possible.

Bottle labels protected from sunlight by a UV coating.

Water and Other Fluids

Paper labels don’t play well with water, which is a serious problem for any labels that are refrigerated, encounter water during the application process, or interact with any other slippery situations. Even paper stocks with higher wet strength will absorb water and other fluids over time. This can cause them to distort and even fall off eventually. For this reason, it’s strongly suggested to use film stocks and laminates for any labels that need some degree of water resistance.

Scuffs and Scratches

The quality of your product packaging says a lot about your goods. A big scratch or scuff on your labels won’t send the right message to potential customers. Instead of dealing with damage when it happens, there are ways to shield your labels from unwanted friction that can occurs during shipping and handling. Laminates and varnishes add a layer of protection so that your product labels can endure more wear and tear and customers pay attention to your branding instead of unsightly damage.

Adhesive Material

No company wants to get stuck with labels that don’t stick to its products. There are a variety of factors that can impact the long-term success of a label adhesive. Some adhesives are better suited for use with water, whether it’s for a product that’ll sit in a steamy bathroom or get submerged in a cooler full of ice. Sometimes the containers you use are better suited for a strong acrylic-based adhesive. No matter the environment, it’s important to work with a label expert who can identify which adhesive makes sense for your products.

Label Regulation Changes

Depending on your product, you’re not the only person who has a say in what goes on your label. Various government organizations have specific compliance standards for a wide range of products, covering everything from food and drink to beauty products and vape juice. These regulations can change over time, which means what were once completely compliant cannabis product labels could become obsolete after new legislation. As a result, it’s important to stay up to date on label compliance and to work with a label printing company that provides order flexibility.

Rebrands or Other Label Changes

Change isn’t always an unexpected development. At some point, you may decide that your business is due for a rebrand, or you may simply refresh your product label designs. In this case, you’ll need to transition from your old labels to new ones to show off your new logo, color scheme, or other design change you’ve made to the aesthetic of your packaging. Fortunately, you can plan for these changes and work with a printing company to have new, eye-catching labels ready when it’s time to update your labels.

Three variations of a product labels with different materials and varnishes.

Prepare for the Future with Long-Lasting, Durable Labels

Whether you need to guard your packaging or prepare for the unknown, it’s important to work with the right printing company to get the most out of your labels. Thanks to an investment in state-of the art digital label printing equipment and technology, Blue Label offers both protective label capabilities and order flexibility to help you prepare for long after your product labels go out to market.

If you need quality, cost-effective product labels that are made to last, we can help. Contact Blue Label today to talk to one of our experts about how we can help you get the most out of your durable labels.

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.
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What You Need to Know About FDA Health Claims on Food Labels and Dietary Supplements

For something that can’t talk, labels say a whole lot about your product. A good label should be able to communicate a whole story to consumers, including what your product is, how it can help them, and why they should choose your goods instead of someone else’s. These messages are critical to the success of your products, but you need to be careful that what your label says doesn’t get you in trouble.

Health claims on food labels are one major way to help communicate the benefits of your product to your intended audience. However, the FDA is very particular about exactly what businesses try to claim. The FDA has strict guidelines for what is and isn’t acceptable on product labels to prevent consumers from being swindled by false or misleading promises. One claim may be fine, but another could result in recalls, seized products, and criminal prosecution.

As you may have guessed by now, health claims are serious business. Unfortunately, the FDA’s various definitions and rules of health claim usage are a bit difficult to understand without some help. That’s why we wanted to break down the different health claims with examples to see what it takes to ensure that what your labels say is okay with the FDA.

The Different Types of Label Claims

In general, health claims on food labels are statements made on food product labels or dietary supplements that boast some type of health benefit. This may seem simple, but the FDA doesn’t treat every claim the same way. Label claims come in multiple forms:

  • Health claims (which comprise of authorized health claims and qualified health claims)
  • Nutrient content claims
  • Structure/function claims

While they all have the same goal, there are distinct differences for each type of claim. In turn, the FDA has different guidelines that you need to follow depending on which claim you use.

A food product label with health claims being handled by a label printing expert.

What are health claims?

A health claim is a statement that creates a relationship between a product and some type of health benefit. For example, a specific ingredient may be tied to reduced risk for heart disease or some other condition. These claims can be represented in a few different ways:

  • Written statement
  • Symbols
  • Vignettes
  • Third-party statements

No matter how they’re represented, they still need to meet certain standards. Health claims require scientific evidence to be deemed acceptable for use. However, there are two different levels of health claims that dictate just what evidence is necessary:

  • Authorized health claims
  • Qualified health claims

Authorized health claims must meet the Significant Scientific Agreement (SSA) standard. Essentially, experts create a consensus of whether there’s enough publicly-available evidence that a certain health claim is accurate. For example, you can make the connection that diets that are low in sodium “may” or “might” reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

Qualified health claims aren’t quite as strict as their authorized compatriots. These claims don’t need to meet SSA standards, but still requires some significant scientific evidence. For example, scientific evidence suggests that including whole grains as part of a low saturated fat, low cholesterol diet, may reduce the risk of diabetes mellitus type 2 .

Of course, you need to be careful with the specific wording of statements. Fortunately, the FDA does provide approved lists of both approved health claims and qualified health claims online.

What are nutrient content claims?

While health claims dictate a certain relationship between certain ingredients or products and a health condition, nutrient content claims involve statements about specific nutrients found in your products. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Calories
  • Sugars
  • Cholesterol
  • Saturated fat
  • Sodium

Essentially, nutrient content claims showcase how the level of certain ingredients relate to typical products. However, your products must meet certain FDA standards to do so. For example, your label can make the claim that it’s “100 percent fat free” if it contains 0.5 g fat per 100 g. Whether you want to market that your product is an excellent source of something or contains a small amount of something else, make sure you check the FDA’s guideline for content claim criteria on page 87 of the Food Labeling Guide.

It’s also important to note that the FDA cares about not only what you claim, but also how that claim is presented on your label. The FDA mandates that any nutrient content claims should be no more than twice as prominent as the name of your food or dietary supplement. In general, that means you should make sure your claim’s type size isn’t more than twice as big as your product name. If your claim is too big or too bold in comparison to your statement of identity, the FDA will probably want to have a word with you.

What are structure/function claims?

According to the FDA, structure/function claims “describe the role of a nutrient or dietary ingredient intended to affect the structure or function in humans or that characterize the documented mechanism by which a nutrient or dietary ingredient acts to maintain such structure or function.” In short, these claims cover any statements about how a certain nutrient generally impacts the human body, as long as it doesn’t make a connection to preventing disease.

A good example of a structure/function claims is that “calcium helps create strong bones.” As long as the claim is truthful, the FDA is fine with using structure/function claims on food products.

However, the FDA is more particular about these claims if you plan to use them on dietary supplements. In that case, you need to meet the following three requirements to use these claims on your packaging.

  • You must have substantiation that the claims are truthful and not misleading before you make any claims
  • You must notify the FDA that you’re using the claim within 30 days of first marketing your product
  • The claim must include a mandatory disclaimer statement that is provided for in the law

Employees at a label printing company reviewing labels with health claims.

Stake Your Claim with Quality Product Labels

Health claims on food labels can help you attract customers, but it’s only one piece of the packaging puzzle. A good label needs to balance compliance and quality, which means that it’s important to work with the right label printing company.

Blue Label Packaging Company offers the right combination of printing technology and expertise to bring out the best in your label designs. In addition to offering a variety of custom label printing capabilities, we’re committed to customer service as well. We work with you throughout the process to ensure a quality product and turnaround times of three to five business days after proofs are approved.

When you’re in need of eye-catching product labels, we’re ready to help. Contact us today the next time you need custom labels for your products.