How To Design Perfect Product Labels [For Beginners]
Why do some products seem to jump out at you while others grow old on the shelf? A well-designed label can have a profound influence on the success of your product. With consumers making split-second decisions based on looks alone, it can be difficult for your product to steal the spotlight. You may think you need a graphic designer to create professional-quality product labels, but that isn't always the case. Below, we delve into label design suggestions from our team of experts.
Get to know your buyers
Who is your target demographic? The more you know about them, the easier time you'll have designing your labels! Think through their shopping motivations. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- What's their age, gender, ethnicity, location, occupation, values, lifestyle, education level, and/or relationship status? Is there anything else that defines them?
- Why would they buy your product over a competitors?
- What are similar brands doing in the space?
- What do they dislike about competitors' packaging/marketing?
- What colors are they drawn to?
Use the right label design software
There are dozens of computer programs out there that offer "design tools" – Microsoft Word being one of them. But if you want to design high-quality product labels, you should start by opening a program made for design. That doesn't mean you need to purchase expensive programs with steep learning curves like Adobe Photoshop.
Maestro Label Designer is design software specifically made for label design. Created exclusively for OnlineLabels.com customers and products, it has everything you need to bring your product label to life. Learn more and see why customers choose Maestro Label Designer.
You can also check out the pros and cons to the five most popular design programs.
Start with the supplier's label template
Configurations can vary between label providers. Diecuts or perforations, for example, can be in slighly different spots. While they may look similar, those small mismatches could be glaring when you go to peel up your label.
Access our extensive library of blank and pre-designed label templates from within Maestro Label Designer! Find the configuration that matches your product or design first and then order the labels. With Maestro Label Designer, you can design with confidence knowing our templates are designed to match our labels. Launch Maestro Label Designer.
Setup your canvas
There's a difference between designing for web and for print. While we've engineered our labels for hassle-free printing, they can shift as they feed through the printer. To ensure your design prints as well as possible, follow these artwork tips:
- Take note of any folds and overlaps. Wrap-around labels are incredibly popular for fully covering a jar, bottle, or container. But it can be easy to forget that there is usually a sliver of overlap at the end. Measure how much overlap you're going to have and consider marking that on your canvas. Doing this will help remind you to keep important designs and text out of the section.
- Map out the safe zones and bleed area. To make sure nothing important gets cut off your label, we recommend keeping everything 0.125 inches away from the label outline on the inside, and adding 0.125 inches of design past the outline on the outside. The interior section is called the safe zone – it's most likely to stay within the label diecut during printing. The outside section is called the bleed area, it acts like a buffer. If your label sheets shift during printing, this "buffer design" prints on your label instead so you're not left with blank/unprinted edges. Learn how to turn on these guides in Maestro Label Designer.
- Recognize your non-printable margins. For label configurations that are very close to the edge, you may want to test your printer's non-printable margins. Since most printers can't print all the way to the edge of a sheet, you may be left with an unprintable perimeter called the "non-printable margin." Find out how close to the edge your printer can go with this printable margin test, then keep those parameters in mind during the design process.
Pay attention to the label material
You have options when it comes to choosing a label material for your packaging. OnlineLabels.com offers more than 40 different materials for use with various containers, bottles, boxes, and more.
- Do something different. Take a look around next time you're surrounded by products. Using different materials like brown kraft or metallic foils can play an important role in the interaction with your product and a potential customer. See how premium materials affect purchasing decisions or take a look at your label material options.
- Add textures and distinction. A label material is an easy upgrade to make and one that can add a polished look to your label. Something unique or eye-catching cam add another dimension to your product. This includes textured kraft labels, shiny metallics, glossy whites, matte colors, and more. You can use these material features to engage with consumers on more than a visual level. Appeal to their sense of touch or intrigue them with something new and innovative.
- Complement the container. If you're using a clear glass or plastic container, you have a unique packaging product, lean into it. Clear labels can help you achieve that "no label look" and/or help the uniqueness of your packaging stand out.
- Know that most printers can't print white. If you're using a colored or transparent material, make sure to remember that while designing. Most printers don't have a white ink or toner cartridge – they understand white as the absence of color so adding white to your design won't do much. It also means your colors won't come out opaque. You will likely be able to see the material or surface color through your design (i.e. your design will look semi-transparent). Learn more about white ink.
Check out how the label material can change the look and feel of your product in our article segment, Play with the Paper Color.
Choose your label fonts carefully
Fonts are a crucial piece of the puzzle when creating a product label. They are the voice of your label, acting as the first line of communication during a customer's perception process. It's on them to relay your product's most important information. Here are some things to keep in mind as you design your packaging:
- Match the style of your product or brand. If your product is a luxury item, you likely want to use a more refined font. If it's more of a necessity, choose some utilitarian. Or perhaps it's aimed at young audiences, in which case a more playful font may make the most sense.
- Make sure the font size is readable. Too large of a font may overwhelm the label and consequently your product. Too small of a font size almost guarantees the information will be overlooked. This requires a search for the perfect balance of size.
- Incorporate different fonts. Font pairing is used as a way to present lots of information. Be careful though, too many fonts can dilute the message and make it difficult for a potential customer to read.
- Use different font sizes. Use various sizes to show the hierarchy of importance. The most important words or phrases should be the largest, whereas something like an ingredient list can be listed in a much smaller size.
Learn more about font choice in our article, Choosing the Perfect Font For Your Label Design.
Use graphics and images to convey characteristics of your product. They can help consumers make quick associations between your product and things they find important. Think about including a picture of your product, a close-up of the texture, or an illustrative symbol to represent the flavor. Patterns, backgrounds, brush strokes, and more can do a lot to drive home your branding, too. When properly positioned, these can differentiate your product on the shelf and make your customers' decision process even easier.
Upload images or browse through clipart in Maestro Label Designer to create the perfect design! Find out how.
Consider the colors
The colors you use when creating a product label are very important to the way your product is received in the marketplace. They play a role in our purchasing decisions, emotional ties to a product, and more.
- Utilize your brand colors. Make sure to incorporate your brands colors into your product label. The more easily identifiable your products are with your brand, the more likely you are to increase brand recognition and repeat customers.
- Use colors that stand out. The use of vivid colors in your label, such as bright reds and yellows, will help differentiate your product label. Can't decide how to incorporate them into your design? Use them as the background color instead with our pastel labels, fluorescent labels, and true color labels.
- Pick color families for different products. Keep your products looking uniform by using the same packaging design in different color schemes. Make the banana-scented candle label yellow and the strawberry one red. This will help with brand recognition and consistency without limiting you – there are infinite colors to use as your product lines grows.
Discover more on the topic of color psychology.
With these common practices, making a professional product label is simple and an easy do-it-yourself project that can save you time and money. By designing a label on your own, you have the power and perspective that no outside designer can see. Now that you have the tools and tips for creating product labels that get noticed, get out there and test your new labels!