STUCK ON YOU: A Beginner’s Guide to Label Printing

In marketing, much has been said about the 4Ps: product, price, placement and promotion, but less about labelling, which is an equally vital element in communicating a brand’s message to consumers and adds a layer of depth to products and their promotion. Labels contain product information, usage instructions, product warnings, other information as mandated by law, pricing, and product value, which distinguishes your brand from others.

Labels. What Are They?

Labels are by no means limited to stick-ons. There are a lot of labels that are not self-adhesive, such as those found in garments, printed on satin, silk, and others. For our purposes though, let’s focus on self-adhesive labels.

Self-adhesive labels showcase both art and science, and, as the name implies, are labels with an adhesive back. They are pressure sensitive to allow for ease of application, and have myriad purposes, functions, styles, and are made with different materials. Now you may be asking yourself – that sounds like a sticker! Are stickers and self-adhesive labels the same?

The simple answer is — no.

They have similarities, but when push comes to shove, they’re drastically different.

Do they both have a sticky back? Yes.

Are they made in the same way? Yes.

Are they removable? They can be, and they can be permanent, too.

What size should they be? Most labels and stickers are small to medium in size. Large ones are called decals and are often applied to windows and floors.

Can they both be used for promotion? Yes.

Label printing has evolved from its first inception — adapting to consider the surface upon which it will be placed (rough or smooth, curved or flat), its purpose, placement (indoor versus outdoor), the environment, and with the latest technology, such as the prevention of food waste or security labels.

With so many options now available, it can be confusing for businesses to know which ones they need. In our experience, one factor is more important than others in determining which label is right for you.

Its purpose and usage or ‘application’.

Choosing the Right Media for your Labels

Grabbing consumer attention has never been as hard fought for as it is now. Labels can go a long way into separating your brand from others. It improves product visibility, imparts information, and contributes to product promotion.

The more durable, and the higher quality your labels are, the greater the impression they make. If your labels come off somewhere between manufacturing and display, your product information and message will get lost right along with it.

There are some critical factors to consider when it comes to choosing the right kind of media for your label.

Paper-Based Labels

Is versatile and comes in matte, glossy or natural finish. It’s easy to apply, more affordable since it’s readily available, and is sustainable since it’s made of wood pulp fibers.

The disadvantage of using paper is that it’s more susceptible to damage from heat, moisture, and is easily torn despite the addition of a coat of varnish.

It is also designed to be used as a ‘short-life’ label, not something that will last much past 6-12 months, or shorter depending upon the conditions such as when used in non-room temperature conditions or outdoors.

Synthetic-Based Labels

There are various synthetic materials used for creating self-adhesive labels. Synthetic labels and media differ from paper ones in a very important aspect: they’re waterproof. Thus, they’re more durable and perfect for longer lasting products.

Polyester (PET), polypropylene (PP), and vinyl (PVC) are all examples of synthetic labels. They’re chemical and UV resistant, oilproof, waterproof, durable even for use outdoors, and can withstand extreme conditions.

Their differences lie in the surfaces to which they can be applied, their lifespan, and conditions in which they can be used. Adding a laminate over the top can also extend the lifespan of the adhesive media considerably. So, if you need a label to last as long as 5-7 years, ask about adding a laminate. This is commonly the case for labels used in the manufacturing sector.

It is also worth noting that adhesive labels vary in the amount of ‘tack’ they have. Tack refers to the level of adhesion. Some adhesives are higher in tack than others, meaning that they will adhere longer to a surface than one with a lower tack. Labels with higher tack are commonly used outdoors and have higher UV exposure.

There are also adhesives that are more ‘pliable’ and far easier to apply. For example, the adhesive media used in car wrapping is more flexible and easier to put on than adhesive media used for signage and wall art, as it needs to be wrapped and stretched around doors and hinges.

In essence, the more ‘special properties’ the self-adhesive media has, the more expensive it becomes; and conversely, the less properties, the cheaper the adhesive is.

Considering all this, it is critical that you ensure that your adhesive media choice is matched to the specific purpose of use. A good print and label supplier will be able to advise you on the best options available for your job.

Label Printing: Then and Now

With increased concern for the environment and the impact printing has on the planet, there is additional clamor for more sustainable options.

A big contributor to food waste is premature disposal of products with an expiration date.

One way scientists are hoping to prevent this is by inventing a self-adhesive label that tracks food as it spoils. These labels are covered with a gelatinous layer that has the same biological properties as the food to which it is attached. As the food breaks down, the gelatin decomposes as well, exposing a bumpy layer that informs all users that the product is spoiled, even those who are visually impaired.

Recently, Zhafri Zainudin of StixFresh has created a sticker that extends the shelf life of fruits by up to two weeks. Once stuck on its skin, it releases chemicals mimicking antimicrobial compounds fruits naturally discharge to protect themselves against post-harvest disease. It protects the fruit and slows down the ripening process.

At the moment, it mainly works on apples, avocadoes, citrus fruits and mangoes, but is still being developed to cover berries and vegetables as well.

Nowadays, with advancements in printing technology and digital equipment, the impact on the environment is lessened.

Professional printing companies adhere to sustainable forestry sourcing and use eco-solvent inks and toners in their digital presses. These have far less of an impact on the environment than some of the former ways of printing where inks were considered toxic and needed to be disposed of accordingly.

Also, no longer are printers required to make metal plates for their presses, which could only be used for specific print jobs, nor do customers have to place orders of large quantities to justify the cost. Advancements in technology have allowed for more flexible print options in terms of smaller quantities, faster turnaround time, and less resourcing than previously.

Making sure your label is ‘fit for purpose’ is something that many businesses fail to consider when placing orders. So, rather than going for the cheapest label option out there, make sure you invest in good design and match it with the right kind of media, for the right application of your label.

To get it right, speak to the experts at Pegasus Print Group who will advise on the right kind of label for your needs.

Call now: 0414 265 521
Email us at: tellmemore@pegasusprintgroup.com.au

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