Monthly Archives: May 2006

  • Small Business Blog of the Day

    We are delighted to have been featured today on Pajama Market's Small Business Blog of the Day.

    Pajama Market is a great resource for small business bloggers, because it not only features a new blog every day, it also provides useful commentary on each blog.

  • The Opportunity of Private Labeling

    If you are completely focused on selling your products at wholesale or in a retail store you may be missing out of a huge opportunity. Private labeling, where another company puts its brand on your products, has been the success story of retailing in the past decade. Everyone from hotels to car dealers are now putting their own brand on products that they sell or give away. Here at Lightning Labels, we have customers here who are private labeling their own hot sauce, soaps and lotions, lip balm – even wine. So many products lend themselves to an easy transition to private labeling. And the good news is that as you expand production, economies of scale kick in, and so your unit price can be reduced. This is certainly the case for buyers of labels. As a Lightning Labels customer, you can easily “gang run” many private label jobs together to get a better price for your labels. It can be a big step to start off in the world of private labeling, so if you are unsure how to get started here is a great article on Entrepreneur Magazine’s website. It is an excellent step-by-step guide for small businesses looking to expand their production into private labeling. Related Information Custom Promotional Product Labels Private Label Opportunities to Grow Business

  • Siemens Working on "Electronic Labels"

    In a previous post I talked about Quantum Paper and their new process for creating electronic paper. I was doing a bit more research on this topic yesterday and I came across a great article from Wired magazine.

    Siemens, the huge German electronics company, has been working on developing a paper-thin electronic display for packaging and labels. They intend to make it so cheap that eventually it could replace conventional labels on disposable packaging. They claim that by next year these displays might be appearing on pharmaceutical products.

    These electronic displays will be powered by ultra thin batteries and they could provide some basic animation by cycling through multiple pictures or messages. We are a long way from having video on these displays, but even these advances I find particularly fascinating.

    Personally, I think we are at least a decade or more before these electronic displays start appearing on products at your local grocery store. In the long run, I know it is going to revolutionize the label printing industry, and here at Lightning Labels we want to be at the forefront when this technology finally goes mainstream.

  • Extend Your Labels with Sandwich Printing

    No, I am not talking about food here. Sandwich printing is done on clear labels to create a "double sided" look. It is a simple way to get more information on your labels, or a way to have a your label read from both sides. So how do you create a double sided label? This is how we do it at Lightning Labels. We don't actually print on both sides of the label - we print both the "front" and "back" on the front side of the clear label. We firstly lay down the "back" of the label, then we typically print two or three layers of white ink, and finally we print the "front" side of the label. The finished product will look like it has been printed on both sides. Now, a word of warning here. Our inks are not opaque, so if you hold our sandwich label up to the light you will be able to see the print on the other side. But if you are putting the label on bottled water or any container with clear liquid, you should not notice this. There are many possible applications for sandwich printing. If you are running a contest, you can print contest rules on the reverse side of your label; you can provide information about your company or uses of your product. You could also put your logo or tag line on the reverse side for a distinctive look. The main advantage of sandwich printing is that you are effectively doubling the size of your label, for far less than double the cost. So why not consider it if you want to get more out of your labels.

  • A Mouth Watering Custom Label

    We printed a number of cookie labels here last week - they were all mouthwatering designs like this one that made us all hungry.

    I am mentioning this label here because it shows off a perfect application of our digital label printing. Blue Flour has a large number of cookie flavors, but they only want to order a small number of each label. Ordering just 100 labels of 15 types of cookies (front and back labels), they were able to get a good price for their labels, with our high quality color printing.

    These labels were beautifully designed by Nadia Zadniprianska, a graphic designer in New York. They were printed on our standard white BOPP material with a gloss laminate. They will be going on cardboard canisters with a corresponding back label with all the nutritional information, as well as a round label on the lid of the canister.

    If you are curious to try these Apple Strudel cookies (I know I am) then contact Teri Pringle at Blue Flour.

  • Win Win Business Partnerships

    This is something that my partner here, Steve Smith, has been preaching for years. It was also a hot topic at the conference I attended earlier this week. All business transactions need to be win-win to be sustainable for the long term. As a customer you need to be getting value for your money and as a vendor we need to be giving you our best price while at the same time making a profit. Now what is the best price? We believe the best price is the lowest price we can afford to offer that insures a reasonable profit for us and a fair price to our customer. Without a reasonable profit we are destined to be in business for a short time - and that would leave our customers stranded too. We believe that all business transactions should be based on "mutuality" - both parties should gain a reasonable benefit from the transaction. But let's take this one step further. We also want our customers to be successful, and in return we hope and expect that our customers will want us to be successful. This way we will both be able to help each other for the long term, and really add value to each other's business. We do everything we can to keep our prices low. We regularly shop the competition so we know what others are charging, and we are always towards the lower end of the pricing scale. We may not be the cheapest out there, but we like to think that we provide the best value for money in the label industry.

  • Innovation Discussed at Label Symposium

    I have just arrived back from the L&NW Symposium in Milwaukee where I gave a presentation on digital label printing. It was an excellent conference - unique because almost all the presenters were owners and operators of label printing companies. So we were listening to the ideas of our peers. The theme that came out of this conference was about bringing innovation into your business. My presentation shared the innovative ways we have marketed digitally printed labels which I will share with you in upcoming posts. Here are some of the pearls of wisdom I gathered from the other speakers:

    • Ideas for packaging innovation are everywhere. You can even look to nature for inspiration. Velcro is the perfect example, it came from Swiss inventor named George de Mestral, looking at how burrs stuck on his pants when he went hiking.
    • 70% of customers make their purchasing decisions at the shelf in the supermarket aisle. Innovation in your packaging can make or break your success on retail products
    • Color is the first thing that a consumer notices about packaging. Make sure your color represents your product in an appropriate way.
    • In the 1990’s innovation was most often associated with technology. In this decade it is associated with design.
    • Keep innovative ideas in your pipeline by having regular brainstorming sessions.
    • GE is the most admired company of all fortune 500 CEO’s. Why? Because GE is aggressive. They think big and then take big risks.

    There were plenty of other great ideas that were shared by the speakers, but these are the ones I felt were most important.

  • Location, Location, Location ... Is it Important?

    I am in Wisconsin right now for the L&NW Symposium. I flew in late Sunday night because I wanted to go and visit a client today up past Green Bay in northern Wisconsin. This client makes a range of herbal body products and sells them through spas and natural food stores. As I was driving up this morning I was struck by this interesting juxtaposition. Here I am driving through dairy country and the land of cheeseheads, to visit someone selling high end body products to spas. When we talked about this at lunch the owner of the company agreed it was an unusual place for her business. She started in San Francisco, but she is from Wisconsin and wanted to return to her family. The wonderful thing about business today is that geographic location is becoming less relevant. The main markets for these body products are Manhattan and San Francisco, so she focuses her sales efforts here. She is hiring a sales manager who is based in San Francisco to start pushing her products there. By basing herself in a place where many of her business costs are less than a third of what they would be in the big cities, she is able to keep her prices down. The additional cost of a few plane trips and extra freight are nothing compared to just the extra rent she would have to pay. By using technology and the UPS delivery system this company is enjoying success at some of the most competitive high-end markets on earth. And she is doing this from a small town in Wisconsin. Of course, I like to think our labels also have something to do with it!

  • Some Blogging Basics

    If you are new to the world of blogs here are five quick tips to help you:

    1. You can comment on any blog post by clicking on the Comment link at the bottom of each post. I encourage you to join the conversation and send a comment.
    2. You will also see a Permalink link at the bottom of each post. As you might guess, this is the permanent link for this blog post, so you can save this item to your favorites or send the link to someone else.
    3. The other link at the bottom of each post is the category. Every blog post will be placed into a category, and you click on this link to see all the items in this category.
    4. In the left column you will see different ways to subscribe to this blog. If you are new to blogs the easiest way is to enter your email address and click "Get email updates". This is managed by Feedblitz, and you will receive an email from them every time there is a new post.
    5. At the very bottom of the left column you will see my Blogroll. This is a list of blogs that I read on a regular basis. You can learn a lot by exploring the different blogs here.

    As I said I encourage you to place comments at any time, and if you have any questions please email me. And welcome to the blogosphere.

  • How Do I Get a Product Bar Code?

    If you want to sell your products in retail stores then you need to get a bar code. The bar code on most retail products in this country is called a UPC (Universal Product Code), and you obtain them from the Uniform Code Council. You first need to become a member of what is mysteriously called their GS1 US Partner Connections. The amount you pay is dependent on the number of different products you will be selling, and your company's gross revenues. The processing time is usually just 3-5 days and then you receive your company prefix number. You can then create your full bar code number for each product with the help of the membership kit you will receive. Once you have your number you just need the software to create your bar code. Here at Lightning Labels we will be happy to take care of that step for you. One point to remember when you are designing your labels - keep a space for the bar code. The official size requirement is around 1" high x 1.5" wide. In reality we do bar codes here that are as small as 0.5" high and 1" wide. Any smaller than that and you will have difficulty scanning them. We can always do a test scan for you here to make sure your bar code is ok. One last important point, your bar code needs to be on a white background to be scanned easily.

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Material Descriptions

Materials

BIOSTONE

One of our eco-friendly options that is actually made of stone—no trees are used. This material should not laminated.

CAST GLOSS

This is another material specially designed for the wine industry. It is paper-based with a high-gloss white finish. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CHROME (SILVER) BOPP

This material has the same water and oil-resistant properties as our White BOPP and Clear BOPP, but has the "mirror-like" look of shiny chrome.

CLASSIC CREST

Best suited for wine labels, this is a white paper stock with a dull matte finish. It is not suitable for lamination and is therefore not waterproof. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CLEAR BOPP

This is the clear version of the Polypropylene (BOPP) material. It has the same waterproof qualities as the White BOPP. It provides more of a "no label" look and is also suitable for window stickers (where reverse printing of the image allows the label to be applied to the inside of a glass window and be viewed from the outside).

ESTATE #9

This is a great option for wine labels, gourmet foods or applications where a textured finish is desired. Being a paper stock, it's not as water-resistant or durable as BOPP, but its light cream color and textured feel add a touch of the "unusual" to the right product. It features a special adhesive (removable in 100+ degree hot water) and a stronger liner particularly suited to machine application. Not suitable for lamination.

GOLD POLYESTER (METALIZED)

This material will make your labels shine! Suitable for most labeling applications, it has a strong adhesive backing and must be laminated. Choose glossy laminate to make your label designs pop, or matte for a unique, elegant look.

KRAFT (RECYCLED)

This is a recycled 100% post consumer waste material. It is a 55# paper material that is a wonderful option if an “earthy” appearance is desired. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water. It is not suitable for lamination; therefore, it is not water or oil resistant.

REMOVABLE WHITE BOPP

This material is the same as our standard BOPP, but has a special, "less aggressive" adhesive designed to allow the label to be removed or re-positioned after application. Depending on the surface it will be applied to, customer testing is strongly recommended. We can provide samples for this purpose.

SATIN CLOTH

Quite the unique material! Yes, it is woven satin acetate cloth. Think wine or spirit labels! This material will make your product packaging POP. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

SQUEEZABLE

A white, 3mil film that is better suited for squeezable applications. This material has proven to work well in a variety of applications, so you can be confident it will perform well for you.

VELLUM (RECYCLED)

A great “green” choice, this 60# vellum is 100% recycled with 100% post consumer waste material. Cannot be laminated. Is neither water nor oil-resistant. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

WHITE BOPP

This is our most commonly used material and is suitable for most applications. It's a polypropylene material with a permanent adhesive. It is impervious to water and oils, and is particularly suitable for bath and body products, as well as food containers.

WHITE EARTHFIRST PLA

A more environmentally friendly alternative to White BOPP. The PLA stands for Polylactic Acid (a biopolymer made from corn rather than petrochemicals). Similar look and feel to BOPP and suitable for most applications, but should not be used directly on candle containers.

WHITE FLEXIBLE VINYL

This is our most substantial material. The vinyl is thicker than BOPP, and is most suitable for outdoor applications where greater strength and durability are needed, or where lengthy exposure to the elements is an issue.

WINDOW DECAL (CLEAR/ULTRA-REMOVABLE)

We offer this window decal option as an alternative to static cling. The face stock is clear with excellent clarity. The adhesive is an ultra-removable featuring excellent weatherability and UV resistance. It removes cleanly from a wide variety of substrates without staining or ghosting. Why worry about static clings staying on when you can have removable adhesive there to hold it in place?

CAST GLOSS

This is another material specially designed for the wine industry. It is paper-based with a high-gloss white finish. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CHROME (SILVER) BOPP

This material has the same water and oil-resistant properties as our White BOPP and Clear BOPP, but has the "mirror-like" look of shiny chrome.

CLASSIC CREST

Best suited for wine labels, this is a white paper stock with a dull matte finish. It is not suitable for lamination and is therefore not waterproof. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CLEAR BOPP

This is the clear version of the Polypropylene (BOPP) material. It has the same waterproof qualities as the White BOPP. It provides more of a "no label" look and is also suitable for window stickers (where reverse printing of the image allows the label to be applied to the inside of a glass window and be viewed from the outside).

ESTATE #9

This is a great option for wine labels, gourmet foods or applications where a textured finish is desired. Being a paper stock, it's not as water-resistant or durable as BOPP, but its light cream color and textured feel add a touch of the "unusual" to the right product. It features a special adhesive (removable in 100+ degree hot water) and a stronger liner particularly suited to machine application. Not suitable for lamination.

GOLD POLYESTER (METALIZED)

This material will make your labels shine! Suitable for most labeling applications, it has a strong adhesive backing and must be laminated. Choose glossy laminate to make your label designs pop, or matte for a unique, elegant look.

KRAFT (RECYCLED)

This is a recycled 100% post consumer waste material. It is a 55# paper material that is a wonderful option if an “earthy” appearance is desired. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water. It is not suitable for lamination; therefore, it is not water or oil resistant.

REMOVABLE WHITE BOPP

This material is the same as our standard BOPP, but has a special, "less aggressive" adhesive designed to allow the label to be removed or re-positioned after application. Depending on the surface it will be applied to, customer testing is strongly recommended. We can provide samples for this purpose.

SATIN CLOTH

Quite the unique material! Yes, it is woven satin acetate cloth. Think wine or spirit labels! This material will make your product packaging POP. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

SQUEEZABLE

A white, 3mil film that is better suited for squeezable applications. This material has proven to work well in a variety of applications, so you can be confident it will perform well for you.

VELLUM (RECYCLED)

A great “green” choice, this 60# vellum is 100% recycled with 100% post consumer waste material. Cannot be laminated. Is neither water nor oil-resistant. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

WHITE BOPP

This is our most commonly used material and is suitable for most applications. It's a polypropylene material with a permanent adhesive. It is impervious to water and oils, and is particularly suitable for bath and body products, as well as food containers.

WHITE EARTHFIRST PLA

A more environmentally friendly alternative to White BOPP. The PLA stands for Polylactic Acid (a biopolymer made from corn rather than petrochemicals). Similar look and feel to BOPP and suitable for most applications, but should not be used directly on candle containers.

WHITE FLEXIBLE VINYL

This is our most substantial material. The vinyl is thicker than BOPP, and is most suitable for outdoor applications where greater strength and durability are needed, or where lengthy exposure to the elements is an issue.

WINDOW DECAL (CLEAR/ULTRA-REMOVABLE)

We offer this window decal option as an alternative to static cling. The face stock is clear with excellent clarity. The adhesive is an ultra-removable featuring excellent weatherability and UV resistance. It removes cleanly from a wide variety of substrates without staining or ghosting. Why worry about static clings staying on when you can have removable adhesive there to hold it in place?

Artwork Specifications

Laminates

High Gloss

High gloss is our most popular laminate. It is the least expensive option and provides protection for the label and a high gloss shiny finish.

Matte

The Matte Laminate provides your label with a dull, non-glossy finish. Some customers consider this achieves a more "natural" look.

Thermal Transfer

This is a gloss laminate that is designed to work with most over-printing thermal transfer printers. We do recommend you get samples first to test through your own printer before placing an order with this laminate.

UV Outdoor Gloss

As the name implies this is best used for labels that will be used outdoors. It has a high gloss finish with excellent UV resistance. It is best paired with our vinyl material for the most durable outdoor label.