How to get your label design just right
Just like life, finding the right 'balance' is essential for your label design. All design factors will need to work in harmony, colours, graphics, fonts, label material and the item you're sticking your label onto.
Lot's to think about, and many decisions to make. So, let's try to break the whole label design process down into digestible chunks.
Choosing the Design Software.
If your needs are quite simplistic, head over to https://www.handylabels.co.uk/designer choose your template size, add text and graphics and you're done, simple! Here you will also find a huge selection of templates shapes and sizes to help kick-start your label design.
If you only need to add some text and a logo to your label then the designer is super easy to use. If you’re trying to achieve a professional all-out cosmetic label, for example, curved text along a path, artistic effects etc then a full package might be what you need.
Designers who are serious about having all the tools at their fingertips will need to look at graphic design packages such as Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw. All three are full to the brim with design features, giving you all that you need but come at a price. If finding a free design tool that will get the job done is more your thing, try https://inkscape.org/en/ and https://designer.io.
Get the Right Tools for the Job, the Correct Design Package Will Make the Job a Whole Lot Easier.
Whatever route you take for your design task, it's important your chosen software can save or export as an EPS or PDF file. This site does allow for the majority of file types to be uploaded but a vector PDF or EPS will always give superior printed results (due to no loss of quality) compared to a raster Jpeg or PNG.
Both are industry standard file formats that your chosen printer will gladfully receive. A further tip, if your software permits, try to convert all of your fonts to outlines before sending to your printer. This will ensure all text remains exactly how you see it on your screen to the finished label in it's printed form.
A wealth of knowledge is at our fingertips explaining the science of colour. A basic understanding of colour is essential when designing your product label.
The colour wheel is an excellent place to start. Free tools, such as Adobe Color will keep you entertained and give you a great insight into how colours work with one another.
Colour wheels were pioneered by Sir Isaac Newton and their basic function is to assist you in choosing colour combinations that are easy on the eye and don’t clash.
To start, focus on Monochromatic (1 colour), this will show you different shades, tints and hues of a single colour that will go with each other. Multiples like a Triad (3 colours) will show complementary colours and shades. A great article on the colour wheel can be found here, it's worth a read!
Colour wheels and colour charts should be used to create the mood of your product/brand but there are no hard and fast rules. Clashing colours are also a valid method of catching a consumer's eye, consider all possibilities.
Once you've grasped the basics of colour, you need to know which colour mode to use within your design. The majority of colour printers, whether at home or a commercial printing business use a CMYK printing process. Cyan (C), Magenta (M), Yellow (Y), Black (K). This type of printing process has become the industry standard for representing ink/toner onto paper. Your printing partner would require your designs set to this colour mode unless they inform you otherwise.
We print CMYK on all of our machines but also offer a white ink/toner as a speciality colour, this is not standard and comes at a premium for customers who require white image/text printed onto clear cosmetic labels, creating the ‘no label look’.
On many occasions, designs are created and supplied in RGB colour mode, Red (R) Green (G) Blue (B). Please note, RGB represents dots of light that computer monitors and TV screens display in. This colour mode is not printer friendly due to its wide colour gamut or range and should be avoided. Failing to do so, will run the risk of your design not printing in your expected colour. This mini infographic highlights the subtle but important differences between the two colour schemes.
Another handy colour reference is https://www.pantone.com. Pantone are colour experts who provide colour communication standards from designer to manufacturer to retailer to customer. Pantone colour swatches are used by all reputable printers worldwide and are known as the 'printers bible' ensuring the most accurate method of colour matching from one medium to another.
Right, after much tinkering with colour wheels and swatches, you should be primed to choose your desired colour palette for your label design. Your colour palette will need to complement the look and feel of your product, as well as standing out on the shelves amongst your competitors. Print out a paper mockup and stick it to a sample bottle to visualise the finished article.
It's always a good idea to take a trip to the local shops for research and inspiration. See how your label design would work next to your competition, would you pick it off the shelve? If not, why not? Is the colour not strong enough? Does your product look cheap in comparison?
The mood you're striving to portray will predominantly come from the colours you choose, above anything else. For further colour scheme inspiration, then I always find something of interest on pinterest. A top resource for virtually anything you can think of, quickly search for themed colour palettes, bingo!!! A bit of consumer research goes a long way and https://www.pinterest.co.uk/explore/colour-palettes/ allows you to peruse other peoples colour combinations and maybe you can grab a few ideas
Just remember, colour can make or break a design. So take your time and get it right!
With so many fonts to choose from, you can easily get carried away and possibly make the wrong decision. Your font choices deserve careful consideration as this can dramatically change the overall look of your product range.
Choose font families that pair well together; your headline font will tend to be the star of the show, accompanied by an easy to read font for the body copy, product instructions and ingredients.
Opposites tend to attract, introverted and extroverted fonts can balance each other rather well when combined. So, avoid pairing fonts that are too similar, these generally will not have enough contrast. You need to establish a definite hierarchy for your brand.
You need to dress your product, no different to dressing ourselves every day. The clothing analogy will give you a good idea of what goes well together and fits its personality.
So, choose a font that grasps the personality of the product. For example, a bubbly, cartoon typeface may be the perfect choice for a children's soft-play brand but not appropriate for a high end, luxury product.
What size font should I use? There is no hard and fast rule, but a good rule of thumb is ensuring balance and legibility across your design. You only a have split second to grab a potential buyers attention, so your brand must be easy to read at a quick glance. An ingredients list or product instructions should be no smaller than 4pt; this will keep your label printer happy and help the visually impaired.
Now that you have a basic font understanding, where can you obtain a library of fonts to kick-start your design? Well, there are many free online sources like https://fonts.google.com, https://www.dafont.com or https://www.fontsquirrel.com. If you decide your brand deserves a more exclusive font, then a paid service could be right for you, try https://www.fonts.com where you will find lots of useful information.
Lastly, practice, practice, practice! Have fun creating lots of designs, print them out, place them around your daily environment to get a feel for what works and what doesn't. Over a short period, you’ll pick a winner to send to market.
Right, you’ve had your fun making pretty pictures, next up it’s the legal bit.