When designing a label, the required label elements can vary with the type of product and industry. In this article, we look at label design tips for various types of products, including personal care items, cosmetics, health and beauty products, hair care essentials, vitamin and supplement offerings, household cleaning supplies, as well as chemicals, paints, and industrial goods.
By combining general label requirements with specific design tips for each product category, manufacturers can be sure that they’re doing everything possible to captivate potential buyers without running afoul of regulations.
General Label Design Requirements for All Products
We talked in depth about the important concepts of label design here in this article. To summarize, general label design practices include prominently displaying the product name, featuring the brand logo to establish brand association, ensuring that graphics, colors, patterns, images, fonts, and layout align with branding guidelines, providing comprehensive product descriptions and necessary regulatory information, and including tracking information and instructions for use when applicable.
These requirements serve several purposes. First, prominently displaying the product name helps consumers easily identify the product they are purchasing. Second, featuring the brand logo on the label establishes a visual connection between the product and the brand. Third, aligning graphics, colors, patterns, images, fonts, and layout with branding guidelines ensures consistency in visual elements across different products from the same brand. Fourth, it provides comprehensive product descriptions which help consumers make informed decisions about their purchase. Last, tracking information and instructions for use enhances the consumer experience by providing guidance on how to properly use or assemble a product as well as details on how to return or repair.
Aside from these general label design elements, each product category has its own unique design needs.
Tips for Personal Care Product Labels
One consideration for personal care products is the use of visually appealing and informative graphics or images on the label. This can attract consumer attention and convey important information about the product.
When designing labels for personal care products, there are several things to keep in mind:
- Use images that evoke emotions such as relaxation, freshness, or beauty.
- Include clear and concise information about the product’s benefits and ingredients.
- Use colors that are associated with cleanliness and hygiene.
- When relevant, use symbols or icons that represent natural or organic ingredients.
- Consider using a clean and minimalist design to enhance the product’s perceived quality.
The term “personal care products” is a rather loose term that isn’t a product category defined by law. It can, for example, include cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, or lotions. From a legal and regulatory standpoint, you’ll want to be sure your product is properly defined and categorized.
One example is cosmetics labels, which will have more stringent requirements if they fall into the “drug” category. In that case, they may also need to comply with US Food and Drug Administration Drug Products Labeling Guides.
At a bare minimum, all labels need to comply with Rules, Regulations, Statement of General Policy or Interpretation and Exemptions Under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act.
We go into more detail on specific requirements for each below.
Tips for Cosmetics Labels
As with personal care products, visual appeal is as important as conveying product information. Emotional response, however, is probably even more important for cosmetics.
Consumer psychologist Patrick Fagan, interviewed by CosmeticsDesign – Europe, had this to say about the emotions tied to cosmetic design:
“It’s a very conspicuous consumption category, so there’s a huge tie-in with identity in the self. It’s much more emotional and people feel more passionate about it.”
The consumer wants to feel good, or to elevate their social status, or to feel an exclusivity from using a cosmetics product.
The label’s color scheme should be chosen to evoke emotions associated with the product and be in line with the brand’s messaging. Imagery can include product images or illustrations that represent the desired effect of using the cosmetic, or that represent how a customer feels after using the product. Use sleek, modern fonts that reflect the product’s quality and sophistication.
Tips for Health and Beauty Product Labels
Evoking emotion is also important for general health and beauty product labels although the emotional emphasis will be slightly different than for cosmetics.
- Colors should, as always, be visually appealing colors and align with the product’s branding.
- Use images or graphics that convey the desired emotions, such as relaxation or rejuvenation.
- Clearly highlight key ingredients or natural elements to emphasize the product’s effectiveness and tie it to the product’s health benefits. Some possible details can include mentions of being organic, hypo-allergenic, alcohol-free, cruelty-free or vegan. Of course, always be mindful of laws and regulations when it comes to making claims. All claims must be true, verifiable, and not misleading.
- Include testimonials or customer reviews to build trust and credibility.
In addition to the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, many health and beauty product labels will also need to comply with the FDA Labeling Guides and regulations mentioned above.
Hair care products have a few additional considerations.
Tips for Hair Care Product Labels
People are particular about their hair and the products they use. They’ll read the labels carefully. The design of hair care product labels should deliver clear and concise information about the product’s intended use, ingredients, and all specific benefits or features.
It’s also important to consider the target audience when designing these labels, as different hair types may require specific formulations or treatments. Demographics such as age, gender, and location, as well as psychographic factors such as personality, interests, and values, need to be addressed in hair care product messaging.
This means that the target audience needs to find relatable specifics, not general information. The more generic the label information, the less relatable the product will be. For example, “shampoo for frizzy blonde hair” is more relatable than “shampoo for all types of hair.” So, not only must the label capture the customer’s eye, it must appeal strongly to the niche demographic and psychographic.
In addition to complying with the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, shampoos may need to comply with various elements of the Consumer Product Safety Commission Soap Guidance.
And according to the FDA, products which don’t meet the definition of soap are to be defined as cosmetics.
Overall, a well-designed label for hair care products should be informative, visually appealing, and effectively communicate the unique selling points of the product for a very specific niche audience.
Tips for Vitamin and Supplement Product Labels
Vitamin and supplement products also require careful consideration in label design to effectively communicate relevant and required information about their purpose, ingredients, and potential benefits to consumers.
The following tips can improve the design effectiveness of labels for vitamin and supplement products:
- Clearly state the product’s intended use and benefits.
- Include a comprehensive list of ingredients, highlighting any key nutrients or active compounds. The US Food and Drug Administration has a comprehensive Dietary Supplement Labeling Guide that needs to be understood and complied with.
- Provide clear dosage instructions and all necessary precautions or warnings.
- Use visually appealing graphics or symbols that convey and align with the product’s purpose or target audience.
- Use third-party certifications or endorsements to enhance credibility.
- Select the best label format for the product and its container. Does it need to be a simple pressure sensitive label? Does it need to convey lots of information on an extended content label?
Tips for Household Cleaning Supply Product Labels
Household cleaning supply product labels require careful consideration in their design to effectively communicate not only pertinent information about their usage, ingredients, and potential benefits to consumers, but about potential hazards.
Several agencies shape regulations for labeling products that contain chemicals. They include the OSHA, the EPA, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Federal Trade Commission.
OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard requires the following details on labels that contain hazardous products:
- Name, Address and Telephone Number of manufacturer, importer, or responsible party
- Product Identifier – Chemical name and code number as determined by manufacturer
- Signal Word – Use “Danger” for severe hazards or “Warning” for less severe hazards.
- Hazard Statement(s)
- Precautionary Statement(s)
- Pictogram(s) – OSHA has 9 pictograms that visually indicate the hazard.
The OSHA Quick Card below shows a sample hazard label with required elements.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission also has product and labeling guidelines from the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has a standardized system of classification and labeling of chemicals to follow.
As you can see, there can be a lot of information to digest before designing a label for household cleaning supplies! The label should provide clear instructions on how to use the product safely and effectively. Labels can showcase the product’s specific benefits, such as its ability to remove tough stains or kill bacteria.
It should also list the ingredients used, highlighting any potential allergens or harmful substances. To make the label more visually appealing, use graphics and text that clearly convey the purpose and features of the product.
Label Design Tips for Household Cleaning Supply Products
1. Provide clear usage instructions
2. List all ingredients used and contact information
3. Highlight potential allergens or harmful substances according to regulations
4. Showcase specific benefits
5. Use a combination of graphics and text
6. Be aware of the type of label needed. For example, film labels, which are resistant to scratching and chemicals, might be used. A clear or translucent film will affect your design.
Tips for Chemicals, Paints, and Industrial Product Labels
Chemicals, paints, and industrial products are often much stronger than household products. Strict attention to detail is needed to comply with hazardous material usage, warning, and disposal instructions.
Some key considerations for designing labels for chemicals, paints, and industrial products:
- Clear and concise language: Use straightforward language to convey critical information about the product’s composition, potential dangers, and appropriate handling procedures.
- Visual cues: Use OSHA pictograms to quickly convey important safety information such as flammability or toxicity. Requirements for visual cues can vary. The product label itself might require one set of visual cues and warnings. The outer packaging and shipping material might require additional warnings and labels. These are regulated by the Department of Transportation and the destination country if you ship internationally.
- Compliance with regulations: Ensure that the label meets all FHSA regulatory requirements regarding content, size, formatting, and placement of information. Remember, hazardous materials mean that multiple agencies and sometimes states are involved with regulation. California’s Prop 65 warning label, for example, requires label warnings for more than 800 chemicals.
- The Poison Prevention Packaging Act Business Guidance also has requirements for special packaging to be constructed for certain substances. You can read full details of the poison prevention regulations here.
- Effective color coding: Use a standardized color coding system to easily identify different types of chemicals or products within a facility or industry.
Many chemical products, such as garden pest control bottles, have so much info which must go on the label, they often use expanded content or booklet labels. These booklet labels are a small pamphlet or booklet which is married to a pressure sensitive product label.
Booklet labels let manufacturers include all the legally required product usage, disclaimers, and consumer safety warnings, which can run into dozens of pages. They’re available for all types of packaging, including Lam-to-Liner booklet labels that are designed for round containers.
A variation of the booklet label is the coupon label, in which a layer can be peeled back to reveal a coupon. Coupon labels can be used for any of the product categories we mentioned above.
Conclusion – Label Design Tips for Different Types of Products
The design of effective labels requires consideration of the type of product as well as the demographics and psychographics of the target audience. Elements to consider include basic design factors such as color, typography, imagery, and branding elements.
Remember, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all label. Various industries and product niches each have their own priorities and needs. The exclusive luxuriousness of a premium cosmetics label would not be helpful on a household cleaning product or an industrial chemical. Also, there are several agencies involved in consumer protection in the US and abroad. The label regulations from each need to be understood and complied with according to product and industry.
In the end, good design plus awareness of the product being labeled will produce a captivating label that moves product off the shelf, protects consumers, and drives revenue.
Where to Get Help With Your Product Label Design
If you need help with label design and production, you can contact us one of three ways:
1 – Call us at 818-709-1220 to discuss your latest project or,
2 – Send us the specs on your latest label job here or,
3 – email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be in touch.