Once a consumer’s eyes fall on a product, there are only seconds to capture their attention. Whether it’s a product sitting on a shelf or displayed on an ecommerce page, the window of opportunity is small.

Without consumer attention, there is little hope of making the sale, no matter how great the product.

One study on product packaging found,

“The appeal of product packaging has the potential to trigger impulsive buying even for consumers with no intention to make a purchase.*”

In brick-and-mortar stores, packaging and labels can be the most important decision influencer where products are displayed side-by-side, all vying for attention.

So, how can a product label designer increase the odds of capturing and keeping consumer attention?

The use of print finishes on labels can make or break a product label design.

Label design is part art, part psychology, and part laws and regulations. While all three areas need attention, it’s all for nothing if the label fails to capture attention.

10 Print Finishes for Labels that Capture Attention

There are two primary types of labels, digital and flexographic, which affects the label finishes available.

Digital labels are reproduced via electronic means, without the use of printing plates. The digital image prints directly from the computer onto the roll of paper, film or foil via inkjet or toner.

Flexographic labels, commonly called flexo, are printed with flexible rubber or photopolymer printing plates. Due to plate costs, flexo is primarily for very high quantities of labels.

With that in mind, here are ten ways to decorate product label designs to better capture consumer attention. We included a chart (below) to use as a reference when planning how to print and finish your next label job.

1- Foil Stamping

foiled label on bottle

Foil stamping can be done on both flexo and digital labels. Foils are available in dozens of colors, including gold in various shades, silver, metallic colors, pigment foils, holographic images, and clear foil.

There are two process used in foiling:

  1. Cold foiling in which no foil dies are needed and
  2. Hot foil stamping which requires dies.

2 – Embossed Labels

Embossing is the process of creating a three-dimensional raised impression on the label. It’s only available on flexo labels.

Embossing requires a die. Dies can be single-level, in which the entire impression is raised the same distance. Or they can be multi-level, with a variety of raised levels.

Either method creates 3D effects that help a label to literally stand out.

3 – Raised Foil in Gold or Silver

Raised digital foil is thicker than conventional foil. You can see and feel it when you run your fingers across it. It has a similar visual and sensory impact as embossing.

Since no embossing dies are required, this makes it a very affordable alternative to embossing. It’s only available on digital labels.

4 – Metallic Foil Effects

We can create metallic foil effects in most colors including multiple colors on one label.

The advantage is that no foil plates are required.  This means that printing costs are not much more than regular full color labels.

5 – Spot UV Coating

Spot UV is the application of high-gloss varnish to specific areas of the printed label.

Spot UV can dramatically highlight specific colors, images, or design features on the label. With a bit of creativity, high contrast designs add eye-catching depth to any printed label.

6 – Raised Spot Gloss UV

Raised spot gloss UV coating takes regular spot UV coating a step further. Similar to the embossed effect, the coating used in the raised spot UV process has a depth that can be seen and felt.

It’s available only on digital labels only. Because no dies or expensive make-readies are involved, raised spot UV is very affordable.

7 – Overall UV Coating

As the name indicates, an overall UV coating applies a high-gloss varnish to the entire label.

This type of coating creates an almost wet-looking appearance. It helps details and images to stand out. It also adds extra protection and smudge resistance.

8 – Lamination – Dull or Gloss

Lamination is a thin layer of clear film applied to the printed label using heat and pressure. Laminates are available in dull or gloss finishes. Lamination offers maximum protection

9 – Soft Touch Lamination

Soft touch lamination differs from regular lamination in that it is velvety to the touch. Regular laminations have a hard, slick finish. Soft touch adds a luxurious sensory element that is perfect for premium products and designs.

10 – Varnish

Varnish is a clear liquid coating applied during or after printing.

Varnishes are available in gloss or dull finishes. They can be applied overall or in spots. A good design that incorporates varnish allows for compelling visual effects that make the product pop.

Varnish is also practical in that it offers protection against scuffs and smudges.


print finishes for digital vs flexo labels


Getting the Most from Label Finishes

The ten label finishes listed above can be combined in many ways to create striking decorative effects that make products stand out on the shelf and in ecommerce. Use the chart above as a handy reference.

For an in-depth overview on how to design and produce the best product labels, be sure to read this related Guide Labeling for Bottles, Jars and Components.

We’re available for consultation on your new and current label projects. Use our in-depth label production and design experience to avoid unexpected label production problems.

Or talk to us to find out if there are alternative label finishing methods that deliver the results you want and save you time and money.

Call us at 818.709.1220 or email us here.


Hubert, M., Hubert, M., Florack, A., Linzmajer, M. and Kenning, P. (2013), Neural Correlates of Impulsive Buying Tendencies during Perception of Product Packaging. Psychol. Mark., 30: 861-873. https://doi.org/10.1002/mar.20651

Published On: November 11th, 2022 / Categories: Labels /