November 22, 2013

What Your Label Design Says about You

What Your Label Design Says about You

Just like your choice of clothing, hairstyle or nose ring tells the world if you are the sort of person who would likely qualify for a mortgage, so does your label deisgn tell the consumer if the product is worth buying.

When a consumer sees a product label, he or she not only expects to be dazzled by the glories of the style, color and font choices, but also by the clarity of the information provided. Organic! Natural! Manufactured in facilities near milk and tree nuts!

We realize that you’re excited about your product; you have every right to be. However, you can’t let your barely controlled excitement rule your choice of label design. Your label has to convey the best features of your product and brand in an attractive way. No one expects your exact product label or brand to endure for centuries, but the concept, if it is strong, should carry over into the next versions of your design. Whatever strategy you choose, know that your label should make the following clear:

1. You Know What You’re Doing

The design of your label needs to be strong and confident, since this tells the buyer that your product was created by a brand that knows what it’s about. This is not only achieved by the clarity of the descriptions from a design perspective (spacing, schematics, colors, etc.) but also wording. If your product is superior, you’ll want to let potential customers know in a way that puts you in a place of authority and expertise. Exclamations and saying that something is “the best” cheapen the product; they lead the savvy consumer to believe that the brand is desperate. Brands that are supremely confident in their products and services often use minimal verbiage on their label and rely on strong design elements and direct wording to convey the message.

2. You Have Faith in Your Product

Is your product manufactured by skilled artisans? Are the components in the product fairly traded? Do the finest chefs in Europe use the same ingredients that are found in your snack crackers? These are all things you may want to mention on your label, since they indicate that your product stands out from the competition.

3. You Know Who You Are

When we’re young, we tend to use fashion as a kind of personal identifier. Teenagers tend to over-accessorize, layer on oodles of make up, get strange multicolored hair cuts and commit other such aesthetic sins because they’re secretly unconvinced that they’ve become fully realized human beings. As a result, their personalities are totally obscured under the suffocating layers of trends. Once we’re older, smarter and less vulnerable to the hypnotic powers of YouTube style gurus, we tend to simplify our personal looks. In order for your product to project self-awareness, the label should embrace simplicity.

What do the most respected products and brands have in common? Their personalities, goals and philosophies are abundantly clear. This clarity is made known by the choice of clean and specific label design. If you find yourself cramming photos, symbols, slogans, swirls, flowers, mountain vistas and four different fonts onto your label, remember the thousands of gaudy friendship bracelets, layered socks and cross-colors of your youth, and reign it in.

4. You Respect the Gluten Intolerant

or vegetarians, or woodland creatures, or people of all shapes and sizes or whoever it is you want purchasing your product. Remember, yours is only one of a thousand types of frozen yogurt/soap/body lotion/whatever on the market. Find what it is about your offering that makes it even slightly different, and use that difference to speak to a population that appreciates it. If your product is missing certain ingredients, chemicals, preservatives or other things that may be perceived by certain quarters as shortcomings, state it on the label. Very often, a brand is defined by what it doesn’t use just as much as what it does.

Human beings respond to visual cues; if they didn’t, there’d be no such thing as styling gel. Nevertheless, you want your product to be respected as well as noticed. Everyone loves a bit of flash, but since you’re selling not only a product but an image, your label has to reflect the salient points of your brand. It is very tempting to design a label that is simply gimmicky and eye catching in the extreme, but what does that say about your judgment? Your taste? If your product would look perfectly at home nestled in a bargain bin, you may want to rethink your model.


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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