Monthly Archives: July 2006

  • What Does "Four Color Process" Mean?

    Whenever you pick up a magazine or full color newspaper you are looking at the product of what is called "four color process" printing. It is a worldwide standard for printing color, but what does it really mean?

    It is quite an amazing procedure. Basically we can break down all real world color into four primary colors: Cyan (light blue), Magenta (a purplish red), Yellow and Black. This is what is known as CMYK (K is for Black). Back in the old days a camera was set up with different filters and screen angles and four separate photographs were taken of an image to create the CMYK separations. Today, computers handle this complicated process with ease.

    If you have a very strong magnifying glass you can actually see how this works. Take any full color picture (it can be a from a magazine, a brochure or even a product label) and have a really close look at it. What looks like smooth color is actually a series of very small dots - and these dots are made up of just four colors - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. But with high resolution printing, the naked eye will not see any of the dots, it will just look like a smooth full color image.

    Four color process printing is just printing a full color image using these four colors: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.

  • The Customer is Not Always Right

    There has been an interesting conversation going on the past couple of weeks over at the Happy at Work blog. It centers around the commonly held principle that "the customer is always right". Alexander Kjurelf, the Danish author of the article, argues that this old maxim actually leads to worse customer service.

    By stating that the "customer is always right" you are implying that in any disagreement between an employee and a customer you are going to side with the customer. This can lead to an alienation of your employees which can result in lower employee morale and therefore worse customer service. In any business there are going to be very difficult people who are going to be unreasonable. The example given in the blog is a great one. A Southwest Airlines customer was continually complaining about the service she received and it was eventually brought to the attention of Herb Kelleher, the founder. He wrote a simple letter back to the customer saying, "Dear Mrs X, We will miss you. Love, Herb".

    There is another old maxim that applies here and that is "you can't please all of the people all of the time." Some people are just looking for any reason to be displeased. If you can weed out these customers before they do any damage, you will keep your staff happy which will lead to better customer service.

  • Disruptive Packaging

    The latest issue of Brand Packaging magazine salutes the top ten innovators in brand packaging. As part of this top ten it features the company that I believe has some of the best consumer product designs - Method Products. If your company sells consumer products you really should look closely at their packaging design. They have built a $30 million company in just five years in the ultra-competitive home cleaning products industry, and they have done it primarily because of their unique packaging.

    The article titled Creative Disruption shows you some of the thinking behind their design ideas. The founders of Method realized early on that to break into such a highly competitive market they needed what they call "disruptive packaging". Something that really stands out from the competition. One of their first products was a bowling-pin-shaped dish soap in 2002 that put Method on the map.

    Method is a wonderful example of how a company can distinguish itself with unique packaging. Whether you focus on the container or the label (or preferably both), it is important to stand out from your competition. People who have never tried your product will judge it by its packaging, so make sure you have packaging that is working hard for your product.

  • Labels vs Stickers - The Great Debate

    OK, so maybe it isn't a great debate, but it is an interesting question I think. What is the difference between a label and a sticker?

    A look in the Merriam-Webster dictionary gives us some clues. Label has five different meanings here, but the one meaning we are interested in says "a slip (as of paper or cloth) inscribed and affixed to something for identification or description." For sticker the dictionary says "a slip of paper with adhesive back that can be fastened to a surface". So the key difference here is that a label is used for identification or description, and a sticker is far more general.

    So the "slip of paper" that is on a product on the supermarket shelf is usually called a label, and the "slip of paper" that your kid sticks on his skateboard is called a sticker. If we think about it when browsing for wine in the liquor store we don't look at the "wine stickers" on the bottles we look at the "wine labels". Even though wine stickers would not actually be incorrect, wine labels is a more accurate description because the purpose is for identification and description.

    In reality people use the terms labels and stickers synonymously and that is just fine. Whether you call them custom labels or custom stickers, here at Lightning Labels we will be happy to print them for you.

  • Beautiful Beauty Labels

    It isn't every day that we get an order from Norway or from a famous model, but an email we received a while ago turned out to be just that. Linda Johansen was a famous model in Norway and New York and she has leveraged that fame into the launch of her company, Beauty Lounge. Linda has developed an extensive line of beauty products for both men and women - she has moisturizers and lotions, body scrubs, anti-aging creams, skin cleansers and many more.

    Linda leveraged the power of digital printing with a total of over 140 different label versions, and she ordered mostly just 100 or 200 of each version. The labels themselves have been beautifully designed, and the high resolution and rich colors available with our HP-Indigo label printer have produced an impressive finished product. Here at Lightning Labels, we do a large number of bath and body labels, and so we were able to help Linda through every step in the ordering process. We were all very pleased with the end result.

  • A Unique Packaging Idea

    The latest issue of Inc. Magazine has a great article titled The Coolest Little Start-up in America. It is the story of TerraCycle, a company that "manufactures" plant food from worm poop. I found it a fascinating story, but what intrigued me most was the packaging that TerraCycle uses for its products. All of the bottles they use to sell their plant food began their life storing soda. You see, TerraCycle is the first company in the world to sell a mass produced consumer product in used soda plastic bottles.

    It all started out of necessity. Back in 2003, when the company was just getting going, they had no money to buy bottles for their plant food. So Tom Szaky, the young founder, recruited some Princeton students to go around during the night taking plastic bottles out of recycling bins. Today, they buy the bottles from recycling companies, and in 2006 they expect to use between 1.5 million and 2 million used bottles.

    Most of the space in the factory is taken up by bottles. They receive these plastic bottles from huge trailers. After they arrive in the factory they are cleaned, delabeled, filled and then labeled again with a TerraCycle label. The used bottles are an integral part of the marketing message for TerraCycle. On their web site, the bottles are front and center, and they show you before and after pictures with Pepsi logos.

    This is such a great packaging idea, it is surprising that no one has thought of it before. It is a less expensive option that is also better for the environment. And with all the billions of plastic bottles that are thrown away every year either in recycling bins or landfills there should be a plentiful supply.

  • Designing Your Custom Labels

    Before you even think about designing your label yourself you should find out the art specifications for the printer you are working with. Lightning Labels has a page devoted to Label Art Specs on our web site, and we recommend you read that first.

    You will save a great deal of time and expense if you can give your label printer a label design that meets their specifications. Pretty much all printers work with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, so if you want to do it yourself spending some time getting to know that software would be a great investment. If you think that is too expensive and you buy some label software for $30 from your local computer store to design and print your labels yourself, the chances are you will have to start again when you move to a commercial label printer. Most of these inexpensive packages use proprietary formats that cannot be used outside of the program.

    It is often easier to work with a professional graphic designer to design your labels. Before you do this you should make sure the designer knows the artwork specifications from your printer. Then comes the fun part - making your vision for your labels into a reality. A good designer will be able to bring together your vision into a design that will work well in the real world.

    Spending some additional time in the design phase can really make a big difference in your satisfaction with your finished labels. Hiring a good designer or gaining extensive knowledge of Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator will help you avoid the many headaches that often occur when starting out with a commercial label printer. If this all sounds too hard, Lightning Labels has an internal design staff who will be happy to take care of the entire project for you.

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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.