When it comes to some products, consumers are spoiled for choice. Often, whichever product gets noticed first will have a major advantage.
Which bottle of cleaning spray will grab more attention? Which bottle of Pinot Grigio will catch the eye? Brands can stand out by choosing a product label with features that are unusual, different, or just plain cool.
Often, digital printing is the key.
With offset and flexographic printing, your printing company must create physical plates upon which to transfer the ink. So, every label that comes through those plates is going to look exactly the same. This is a great advantage when you want a large quantity of labels that look exactly alike – and is one of the reasons why it tends to be more cost-effective to have bulk orders done this way.
Unlike offset and flexographic printing, with their inked plates, digital printing takes digital images and prints them directly onto a printing surface using special inks.
It’s the “digital” part of the equation that gives digital printing the ability to do some amazing things.
Digital printing shines in its ability to make every label different. Because a digital press prints exactly what the digital file tells it to, there’s no need to stick with the same look for every label. This type of label is called a variable data label.
Here are three examples of some cool things you can do, thanks to digital:
Probably the most famous example of personalized products was Coca-Cola’s “Project Connect,” where Coke switched out the branding on its labels with 150 of the most popular first names in Australia. The campaign was a smashing success, providing millions of people with the thrill of buying a product with their own name on it.
While you probably don’t want to copy Coke’s campaign directly, offering personalized labels (through a form on your website, for example) can be a great way to create a stronger connection with your market, whether your product is just starting out or is a massive household name. The possibilities are endless – customers could have an anniversary date printed onto a wine label, an inspiring message on a scented candle label, or even their pet’s name printed on a dog shampoo label.
You can even think outside the box a bit – even if your product wouldn’t normally inspire personalized labels, offering them can be a cheeky and irreverent way to gain some buzz (imagine personalized peanut butter or monogrammed maple syrup). Just make sure you have someone monitoring submissions, so you don’t get pranksters putting words or images on your labels that might harm your brand.
Even if you don’t want to open up your label to user submissions, you can still use variable data labels to shake things up and make your labels fun.
For example, a microbrewery planning a summer lager may want to feature fun facts about five or six local summer hotspots on them.
Or a fragrance house releasing a rose-based soap might want their labels to feature a series of different quotes about roses. (Our favorite, courtesy of Matshona Dhliwayo: “A rose does not answer its enemies with words, but with beauty.”)
For a touch of exclusivity, a brand doing a limited run on a certain product can have each label numbered (e.g., No. 485 of 500).
Because there’s no worry about the number of plates that need to be made, brands can take one label design and tweak it as needed. Want to apply the same design to multiple SKUs, while still being able to change the product name and imagery? Digital can do it in a single run.
Interactive elements are a great way to get people engaged with your marketing. Thanks to digital presses, brands can, for example, print unique promotional codes on each and every label. The consumer then visits a special contest website and enters their promotional code for a chance to win a prize.
Variable data labels can even enable a fun scavenger hunt. Think of the McDonald’s Monopoly stickers, but at whatever scale works for your business. Your label can feature a “piggyback label” (where part of it can be peeled off and stuck elsewhere – say, onto a game card), with each removable layer featuring one of several different game pieces.
Digital printing technology has plenty of incredible tricks up its sleeve and there may be many possibilities you haven’t even considered. So, make sure to have an in-depth conversation with your label company about the ultimate goal of your label – an experienced and knowledgeable label supplier will not only answer your questions, but will open your eyes to some of the amazing things your label can do.