5 Tips for Designing Effective Labels

Special Advertising Note: The following sponsored content is brought to you courtesy of Avery, one of HOW’s trusted partners.

Whether you’re designing labels for commercial products, wedding favors or your personal line of lotions on Etsy, it’s vital to get the details right to avoid having to revise and reprint. These helpful tips will put you on the right path for your next label design project.

1. Use color, texture and type to your advantage. 

You may already know that it’s best practice to design labels in CMYK (as opposed to RBG), but it’s also important to consider color in terms of presentation. Ensure that the typeface you choose for the most important information on the package can be read from a distance—and that the colors facilitate legibility from any distance. A metallic or reflective label might be eye-catching, but it can also be more difficult to read metallic lettering when it’s paired with certain colors and textures. A rustic-looking label can be perfect for botanical products and products using recycled materials, but it might not befit a high-tech product.

It’s also important to consider the psychological interpretation of color when designing packaging: silver labels might exude sophistication, elegance or a high-tech feel; brown paper labels can convey earthiness, reliability and sustainability; blue packaging can convey trust and authority.

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2. Design the label with the container and the product in mind.

Yes, obviously it’s important to fit a label to its container. But proper measuring is arguably the most important step in label design, and when you have a burning design idea, it can be easy to want to jump into the design with only a glance at your container. Whether your container is textured, tapered, rounded or squared, you’ll need to ensure that your label not only fits onto it smoothly, but also complements its shape.

It’s also important to consider how much of the actual product you want to show. For a product in an opaque container or a product that isn’t aesthetically pleasing, you may want to create a label that covers more of the container, while an attractive product in a transparent container (think honey, jam or potpourri) might require a smaller label that complements the product without obscuring it.

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3. Create memorable, distinctive labels. 

Labels and packaging must stand out. Whether you’re designing labels for a bottle of wine that will appear in-store or stickers for your line of personally-branded soaps, it’s imperative to consider how the label will be presented. Some high-end brands are able to purchase prime real estate—specially-crafted displays for their products or strategic locations in stores—but most products will appear alongside competitors in stores, so you’ll need to consider lighting, shelving and presentation. Even if you’re just designing custom labels for personal usage, your design will have more impact if it’s clean, eye-catching and unusual. Ensure success with your label designs by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is the label distinctive among competitors?
  • Does it clearly and accurately reflect the product and the brand?
  • Will your target audience find it compelling?

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4. Get feedback.

In a former course on packaging design at HOW Design University, Jennifer Tausch advises designers to survey the people who will be using products to determine whether labels and packaging strike a chord with consumers. Invite people you know to take a survey asking clear questions about why they connected with the packaging. “Build the questions to help you understand whether you have been successful in creating the appropriate experience for the target consumer,” Tausch wrote. “Asking ‘Why?’ is the most important part of this exercise — you need to uncover the emotional aspect of their answers.”

She recommends asking the following questions:

  • Does this design feel natural? Why or why not?
  • Does this design fit into your lifestyle? Why or why not?
  • Does this package design communicate the product/experience? Why or why not?
  • Do you prefer this design other packaging? Why or why not?

5. Account for the lifespan of the packaging and the label. 

As a package designer, it’s vital to consider the environmental impact of your work. If you’re designing labels for a product in a durable package—a glass jar or bottle, a metal tin, or a durable box—consumers may be interested in reusing the container. Ensuring that the label can be removed without damaging the packaging will facilitate this practice. Also consider the size of the label in terms of the waste it creates: Smaller labels from recycled materials on reusable packaging will have less of an impact on the environment than a broad label on a more disposable package.


Make Labels Stand Out with AveryPRO 

AveryPRO line of pressure-sensitive stock is perfect for delivering the highest quality labels to your customers. These 12”x18” label stocks are available in multiples sizes of rectangles, circles and ovals in a variety of materials, including Kraft Brown, white glossy, white matte, and clear glossy.

Even better, the AveryPRO substrates offer the highest quality print density, ink anchorage and durability to make sure your projects achieve the premium look and feel you desire. In addition, the substrates include exclusive Avery proprietary features and materials like Easy Peel and TrueBlock technology. Easy Peel allows you to quickly lift and apply labels without damage, while TrueBlock lets you cover up old labels and mistakes, or reuse boxes.

The easy-to-use Press-Align templates were created to accurately align with the complete line of AveryPRO substrates. They offer seamless integration with existing imposition software, as well as the exact dimensions and safe zones for the substrates. Simply download an individual template or use the Adobe Extension to get immediate access to the entire library of templates using Illustrator or InDesign. And with one easy click, you can impose your 1-up design onto a full-sheet layout.

To learn more about how AveryPRO can help boost your business or to request a sample pack, visit avery.com/averypro.


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One thought on “5 Tips for Designing Effective Labels

  1. Richard_A

    I find it difficult to design labels for clients, depending on their product. This was very helpful and often times, people don’t really think about the product – shape and size when designing a label. Often times, the client just wants something fast. I’ll share this with them. This was very helpful. Thanks.

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