If you look around your office or home, you’re likely to spot dozens of different types of product labels (also known as prime labels). The reason there are so many ways to design and print a label has to do with the numerous purposes that labels serve.
In this article, we’ll outline the various types of product labels and how they are categorized. The goal is to give label buyers and label designers an overview of product labeling possibilities and to ensure that companies are getting maximum benefit from their label designs and practices.
Why are there so many different types of product labels?
Custom product labels can serve many purposes. They can be informative, descriptive, or pictorial, such as a tag, mark, or brand attached to a product or package or inserted into a product package.
Labels Provide Information: Labels offer a means of communicating product details to customers, aiding in their buying decisions. They can also offer additional support and how-to resources via QR codes.
Labels Help Customers Compare Goods: Labels allow customers to differentiate between or within product brands and make informed purchasing decisions.
Labels Protect the Consumer: Labels prevent allergic reactions and offer safety warnings for hazardous chemicals.
Labels Promote Healthier Choices: Nutrition facts on food and beverages help customers choose healthier options.
Labels Organize Products by Various Standards: Labels can categorize products based on qualities or standards.
Labels are Used for Supply Chain Management: Accurate, detailed labels prevent shipping errors and counterfeit products, leading to higher revenues and lower costs.
Labels are a Marketing Channel: They help a company promote other products. They assure the consumer of product authenticity and distinguish their products from fake or counterfeit products.
Custom product labels typically serve more than one of these purposes. So, how can a buyer or designer select the best type of label for any given label printing project?
It helps to organize labels by categories (purpose) and by methods of labeling. We’ve outlined both below and put together a checklist to make sure that no important item is overlooked.
Different Types of Product Labels by Categories (Purpose)
The categories below sort labels according to their general purpose and the type of information that needs to be conveyed to fulfill that purpose.
Brand labels are those that only contain the brand name of the product with minimal additional information. An example of a brand label is shown above. Another common example are the labels and tags used on clothing.
Their purpose is to reinforce the brand with consumers. Brand labels help establish brand recognition and loyalty. They remind customers of the brand promise and values. Simple brand labels can evoke emotions associated with the brand.
Descriptive, Functional Identification Labels
Descriptive labels provide a general overview or description of the product and may contain brand names, product names, SKUs, serial numbers, and barcodes.
Their purpose is to identify and differentiate products. Descriptive labels also allow tracking through the supply chain, usually with the inclusion of barcodes.
Booklet Labels & Expanded Content Labels for Compliance and Safety
Booklet labels and expanded content labels provide detailed product information like the manufacturer’s name, manufacture and expiry dates, intermediaries, and additional instructions on the product’s usage. Examples of other information include ingredient lists, nutrition facts, warning labels, and certifications.
Compared to descriptive labels, these labels are more detailed. They ensure consumers have access to important product details for safety and informed purchasing. Detailed labels such as these may be required by various laws or regulations.
Pharmaceutical labels, for example, are often printed as booklet labels (shown above) which when opened, provide pages of required information such as potential side effects and usage instructions.
Security labels may contain tamper-evident seals, holograms, small slits which make it impossible for someone to remove them intact and RFID tags. Security labels can show whether a product has been opened or tampered with. They deter counterfeiting and reassure consumers of a product’s authenticity. Like other labels, they can also provide supply chain tracking.
Promotional labels encourage the purchase of other products or more units of the same product. They build brand loyalty through deals and special offers. They promote referrals from happy customers. They can promote joint venture offers from affiliated companies.
Some examples include coupons, contests, sweepstakes, and cross-promotions.
Methods of Labeling – Functional Design Aspects
In addition to the purpose-oriented categories above, the categories below sort labels by the physical and functional requirements of a product and its container.
Shrink Sleeves (Shrink Labels)
Shrink sleeve labels are made of a flexible polymer plastic or polyester film. The labels are wrapped around an entire container and shrunk by heating until they tighten around the product container.
These labels are often seen on bottled and canned beverages or liquids, especially those requiring refrigeration. They can also be seen in personal care products that are subject to high-humidity bathrooms and showers. They are also used to package multiple products together to sell as a unit.
This type of label lets brands deliver vibrant graphics on a wide range of container shapes and sizes. Shrink sleeve label material is also very durable and comes in various colors and finishes.
Pressure-Sensitive Labels (also Called Prime Labels)
Pressure sensitive labels are made from a face stock that includes a liner and adhesive. When the liner is removed, the label can be applied to products in bottles, jars, components, tubes, and other packaging.
This type of label can be printed on a range of substrates and can be enhanced with a variety of finishes, specialty inks, hot stamping, or lamination.
Removable labels, sometimes called dry release labels, are made with an adhesive that holds temporarily but easily releases when peeled from the product packaging surface. They are typically not resealable.
They can be used to reveal another label or graphic beneath once the initial label is removed. Some common uses include instant redeemable coupons on food products, instant rebates, or revealing a code for a contest.
A hang tag is a small label with a hole drilled in the top. It’s attached to the product with string. Folded hang tags offer more space to provide more detailed information than available on a flat hang tag. These are often used for wine bottles and haircare products, etc.
Understanding the differences and uses of each type of product label will help manufacturers choose product labels that serve all their intended purposes.
To keep thing straight, we put together the checklist below to help select the right type of label for your products and product packaging.
Choosing the Best Type of Custom Product Label to Use [Checklist]
- Purpose Identification
- Determine label’s main function
- Ensure multi-purpose functionality
- Information Provision
- Include product details
- Add QR codes for extra info
- Consumer Protection
- List allergens and hazards
- Highlight safety warnings
- Health Promotion
- Display nutrition facts
- Encourage healthier choices
- Product Organization
- Categorize by quality or standards
- Supply Chain Management
- Ensure label accuracy
- Prevent shipping errors with barcodes, RFID tags
- Marketing and Authenticity
- Promote other products
- Assurance that product is genuine
- Keep target audience in mind
- Brand authenticity
- Label Categories
- Brand labels for recognition
- Descriptive labels for differentiation and basic information
- Booklet labels and expanded content labels for safety, compliance, detailed information
- Security labels for authenticity
- Promotional labels for offers
- Design Aspects
- Consider container shape and size
- Choose durable materials
- Functional Aspects
- Ensure label adherence
- Consider environmental factors
- Special Features
- Add tamper-evident seals
- Incorporate RFID tags, QR codes, or barcodes
- Sustainability factors
- Promotions and Offers
- Include coupons or contests
- Highlight special deals
Remember, this checklist is a summarized version of the article’s content. Always refer back to the full article above or contact us for detailed information when designing and creating a label for product packaging.
Need Help Selecting the Right Type of Product Label?
Readers can always reach the experienced team of label experts at Clear Print to discuss their label printing needs. There are 3 ways to get in touch:
1 – Go here to send specs on your latest label project and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.
2 – Call 818-709-1220 to speak with a label printing expert.