Packaging and labelling: labels, what they are and how to use them
The label is “a piece of paper or other material that gives you information about the object it is attached to” (Cambridge Dictionary) and is an informative element both of the packaging and the product with many functions.
It is realised with many kind of materials: polymers, paper, metal, wood, fabric, etc…, and could be printed on the packaging or attached on the surface of boxes and products, mostly through adhesives, IML process, “water and glue”, binding.
Labels are designed to give useful information about the product and packaging and also to draw the attention of consumers to a specific item. In both cases they have to be: visible, clear, readable and easy to understand.
They are generally divided in four macro categories: brand labels, widely used in textile and clothing industry, bears only the product brand/name in order to identify the brand which the product belongs to or a variation of it, aiming a purchasing function; grade labels, bearing the quality level of a product through letters, numbers or figures ( e.g. A, B, C, D); descriptive labels, containing general information about the product features and special warnings, security and care; and informative labels, giving technical, logistic, legal, commercial and promotional information about the product that are more detailed than the descriptive ones and change based on the category of the product.
The most common information on the descriptive and informative labels are about: use and care of the product, manufacturer name and address, expiry date, ingredients/components, shipping and handling, certificates and warranties, warnings and suggestions. Some specific items need mandatory information based on the law, like foods.
To easily get them, some of these information are represented through proper standard symbols recognised everywhere in the world. Their use is often necessary to convey a big number of information in a limited space. In the following table you can find some of the most usual symbols and their meaning: a short list that could help you during the design process of your labels and custom packaging.
In some industries labels are essential to identify a product, just think at wine packaging, cosmetics boxes or jam containers, packaging that are mostly similar, even identical: in that case the label makes the difference…and, to the most of consumers, the product! If you deal with packaging of this kind of items you should design functional but amazing labels to get the consumers thinking at your product as the best one to buy.
In some cases labels are all about purchasing, for example they are used to set different kind of products apart. It usually happens that the same item is available in different colours, tastes, finishing, etc… how to highlight that differences? Beyond creating different boxes for each type, you can realise just one packaging, including all the essential information of the product (the same ones for each variant), and attach on it a specific label depending on the product type: a practical and cheap solution that is widely used. In that way the consumers will be able to recognise, at a glance, the item they are, or may be, interested in.
And you, some advice to give us about packaging design labels? Tell us your idea, comment on this post!