Monthly Archives: February 2009

  • We are Replacing EarthFirst PLA with Natureflex

    IStock_000003704088XSmall

    After extensive research we have decided to replace our EarthFirst PLA material with a product called Natureflex. This is not a decision we took lightly because we know many of our customers have been using the EarthFirst material and like it. However, there are several concerns about EarthFirst PLA:

    1. It is made from corn which takes away from the food supply for humans and farm animals, and has contributed to an increase in food prices for products with a corn component.
    2. There are problems with the recycling of plastic containers with a PLA label - which means many such containers actually end up in landfills rather than being recycled.
    3. Whole Foods is actively discouraging its suppliers from using PLA.

    For these reasons we have been looking for an alternative for several months. We have found Natureflex to be an excellent replacement because none of these three factors apply. Natureflex is made from wood pulp manufactured from sustainably farmed trees and is gaining popularity as a more environmentally friendly label material. It also has similar visual and waterproof characteristics as the PLA material, so you should not notice any practical difference when labels are applied to your products. If you want to do a quote on the new Natureflex material then just use our instant online label quoter.

    Here at Lightning Labels we are committed to being as eco-friendly as possible, and we are always looking for new materials that can reduce the carbon footprint of our customers. We feel that Natureflex is the best material available right now, but there are even better alternatives that are in development. These new materials are not available yet, some are several years off, but when they become available we will certainly be testing them out. Stay tuned. Any changes we make to our available materials will be announced here on the blog.

  • Signs Are Just Really Big Labels

    Sign

    I have been following the Signs Never Sleeps blog from J.D. Iles, the owner of the Lincoln Sign Company for many years. Originally he just shared information and pictures of the signs that they worked on in his own shop, but now he features signs from sign companies all over the country.

    What I like most about his blog is that he features photos with every blog post. It struck me when I first came across his blog that signs are just really big product labels where the product is the company name. But like labels, signs have to convey a message and attract attention in a visually appealing way. Sometimes you can get good ideas from places that you wouldn't expect.

  • Is Magenta a Color?

    Spectrum I stumbled across this interesting article on color yesterday. The main point put forward here is that if a color is not part of the visible light spectrum (seen above) such as magenta or pink, then the color does not actually exist, our brain makes up the color. Now, I am not a scientist or a neurologist, so I have no idea whether what this article says is true, but it made logical sense. Magenta One thing I found fascinating was the experiment they had on there. Take 30 seconds and stare at the magenta circle above and then look at the white space right next to it. You will see a green afterimage circle. According to the article your eye will see the complementary (or opposite) color to the circle, which in this case is green. Fascinating stuff. We work with color every day here but I must admit I have very little knowledge about the science behind how we perceive color. But for product label designers color is very important and some study of color science can only be helpful when it comes to designing visually appealing labels.

  • Have Your Say in New Coffee Packaging

    Eight_oclock_coffee_v2 What do you do when you want to redesign the packaging of a brand that dates back 90 years? You tread very carefully. The brand Eight O'Clock Coffee was established in 1919 by A&P (who began selling coffee in 1859) and in the 1920's and 1930's it was the best selling coffee in the world, with a 25% market share in this country. It is still successful today being the 4th largest national coffee brand. So it is no small undertaking to completely overhaul the product packaging. Rather than thrusting a new package design on their unsuspecting customers they decided to involve their customers in the process. They created a special website called CoffeeMakeover.com with two new package designs and anyone can vote on the one they like best. There are even daily prizes and someone will win $5,000 in free groceries. The polls are open through March 15 with the winning look being unveiled March 16. Personally, I am not a huge fan of either of these new designs, they both seem to be too big a departure from the old design, which dilutes the brand equity built up over decades. But the smart thing about the contest is that they not only give their loyal customers fair warning, they allow them to help decide the new design.

  • The Carbon Footprint of Fat Tire Beer

    Fat_Tire One of my favorite beers is a local Colorado beer called Fat Tire. It is made by New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins and they are well known as a company with a strong environmental conviction. So, they decided to measure the exact impact that their beer has on the environment by measuring the carbon footprint of a six pack of Fat Tire beer. Last year they hired the Climate Conservancy to create this very comprehensive report that goes into great detail on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted during the lifecycle of a six pack of Fat Tire beer. Of most interest to me was the impact of the paper labels. The impact of the paper material was 9.2g of CO2 and the adhesive was 7.6g of CO2, which includes the shipping of the beer labels to the bottling plant. So, a total impact of 16.8g of CO2 for each six pack of Fat Tire produced. The report is 37 pages long and it most likely is the most comprehensive study done by any brewery on the environmental impact of beer. The total average CO2 emission to produce a six pack of Fat Tire and transport it to its destination in a liquor store is 3,189g. It is good to know the label only contributes around 0.5% of the total. I expect to see more companies doing these kinds of studies in the future and eventually this information will make its way on to product labels. In case you are wondering, New Belgium produces a Sustainability report that details how it tries to mitigate the large amounts of CO2 that is emitted as part of its beer production process. Photo by Shiokuma.

  • Lightning Labels is Now on Twitter

    Twitter_logo_125x29 I have been exploring Twitter for a few months now and I have come to realize that it can be a very useful business tool. What I find most useful is following the conversations of our customers many of whom are also on Twitter. I also enjoy having access to some of the smartest business minds on the planet and discovering what they are thinking about. If you are already on Twitter then I encourage you to follow Lightning Labels. If you are wondering what all the fuss is about then here is an excellent beginners guide to Twitter targeted at business people by John Jantsch over at Duct Tape Marketing. Twitter has still only been around a short time but it continues to grow rapidly and is becoming a serious business tool. One word of warning, Twitter can suck you in. Last year when I started playing around with it sometimes a couple of hours would go by before I realized it. Today I try and check Twitter just twice a day and I have several searches setup on Tweetdeck for our company name, and various label printing terms. This way I can find out quickly and easily what people are saying that is of interest to me. And whenever I find something useful it is very quick and easy to share it with my followers. Twitter allows us to communicate quickly and easily. I really don't think it is the latest fad, I think it is here to stay. It is a useful addition to the marketing mix for any business.

  • Three Label and Packaging Makeovers

    Tropicana

    This new year has already brought about some label and packaging changes for some major consumer brands. Tropicana orange juice has completely changed its look as you can see above. The old look is on the left, the new carton designs are on the right. Personally, I think they have blown this one. The cartons on the right looks like generic store brand orange juice and you have to look hard to find the brand name, Tropicana. Here are some comments from the branding and package design world where the redesign has been widely criticized.

    Pepsi_new

    Pepsi, who happen to own the Tropicana brand, have had a major redesign of their soft drink packaging and logo. Above is the Diet Pepsi bottle from last year (left) and the new one released last month. Again here is what the design and branding world have to say. Even though this redesign has also been panned by most people, I don't think it is too bad. The switch to lower case type works well in my opinion and the new logo is growing on me.

    Heinz

    The last product has probably the most innocuous change but in some ways is the most controversial. For 115 years Heinz ketchup has carried a picture of a pickle on their product label. Even though there are no pickles in their ketchup the pickle has stayed on the product label ever since a successful promotion by H.J. Heinz at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. This change is a big deal for Heinz, who have left their label design virtually unchanged for 65 years. I think this is a good change. The tomato on the label is shown growing on a vine and the words "grown not made" has been added to emphasize the natural source of ketchup. Some people are not happy, though. There is a Facebook group setup to "Save the Heinz pickle" that has almost 3,000 members. Clearly some people are very passionate about their product labels.

    If you are considering a product label makeover it is important to tread carefully. It is very easy to alienate customers and make your products more difficult to find on the supermarket shelf. This is why I like the Heinz approach best. They have done an incremental change to their label and you still know it is Heinz just by glancing at it. Keep in mind that you can always test different designs, our minimum custom label order is just 100 labels, so you can get some feedback from your customers before committing to completely changing your look.

    Related

    10 Innovative Packaging Ideas to Implement Now So Your Product Labels Will Stand Out on the Retail Shelf

    5 Breakthrough Product Label Ideas

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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.