Monthly Archives: March 2009

  • The (Possible) Future of Packaging

    Last month on the Eye on Packaging blog, David Bellm featured this interesting video. It is the brainchild of Capsule, a packaging design firm in Minneapolis. Before you become alarmed Gobee Rocket Rations is a fictitious product. The video was created for the Packaging That Sells Expo in Chicago as part of their Futuristic Packaging Gallery video series. The idea of the series is to challenge package design firms to think about what might be possible in the future. Whether or not we will have children's drinks that interact and inform, one thing is for sure, product labels and packaging are going to become more intelligent. With the advances in electronic ink and printed electronics the label printer of the future will need to know as much about electronics as they do about ink.

  • Printing Large Variable Data Jobs

    IStock_000007711510XSmall We have a job in-house right now that calls for 800,000 sequentially numbered labels. We love these kinds of jobs, because they are challenging and they show off the capabilities of our digital label printing. In fact there are only a couple of different digital label presses in the world that could handle a job of this magnitude. With the HP-Indigo WS4500 press this large variable job was printed in less than 3 hours. Of course, you can use the variable capabilities of a digital label press for far more than just sequentially numbered labels. Did you know that our press can handle variable image printing? This is where we print a different image (such as a photo) on every label. In our latest newsletter I wrote an article titled The Opportunity of Variable Data Labels where I give some ideas on how to take advantage of variable data for your product labels.

  • QR Codes Coming to Wine Labels

    Qtavaledagodinho-tawny-cr

    Last year I wrote about QR codes that were being used by Ralph Lauren. I recently discovered two Portuguese wineries that have just started using QR codes on their wine labels. If you take a look at the back label here you will notice a normal bar code and also a funny looking square next to the bar code - that is the QR code.

    The idea behind QR codes is that you can embed information in them that can be easily scanned with a cell phone camera. The most common use of QR Codes is to embed a web site URL, so you can direct the person to a specific web site when scanning the label.

    In the case of these Portuguese wineries they are directing wine consumers to Adegga, an online community of wine lovers that dubs itself as a "social wine discovery" service. This is how it works. You scan the QR Code on the wine label and you will be taken to a special page on adegga.com dedicated to that particular wine. You will be able to read other people's comments about it, check wine prices, read comments from the winemaker and much more. Adegga is undertaking a very ambitious project attempting to catalog all the wine of the world with something called an AVIN, which will be a unique wine identifier (similar to ISBN numbers for books).

    Obviously there is not broad use of QR codes yet in this country. But in Japan and Europe they are becoming more common. I expect we will start to see broad adoption of this kind of technology here within 2-3 years. If there are wineries out there that would like to become part of this project then we will be happy to print your wine labels with the QR codes.

    Hat tip to Jose Eduardo at the Cortes de Cima Winery in Portugal for informing me about this.

  • The Power of Great Design

    Method A few days ago Seth Godin wrote an interesting post about design. He basically said that most companies put little or no thought into design in which case design has no impact or sometimes actually a negative impact on the company. There are some companies who think hard about design and produce a positive return. Then there are those companies where good design is woven into the fabric of the company and their products. These are the companies that are most likely the leaders in their industry and getting an excellent return on their investment in design. Godin gives the example of a Porsche sports car. The company that comes to my mind is Method Products, the maker of natural cleaning products. Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan started Method with great package design as one of the primary drivers of the company. In the cleaning products industry no one had done that before and they became very successful. Of course, you can't rely on design alone, Method Products are also high quality and good for the environment, but what really makes them stand out on the supermarket shelf is their beautiful design. Now, you probably can't afford to spend millions of dollars on package design as Method has done. But at least you can give design the attention it deserves. Here at Lightning Labels we see hundreds of product label designs every day. Just by glancing at the label we can tell the difference between those people who focus on design and those people where design is just an afterthought. Today it is not good enough to just have a great product, people expect that now. In order to get consumers to change their behavior you need to be able to stand out from your competition. And the best way to do that is through great package design.

  • Celebrating Make a Referral Week

    Header John Jantsch at Duct Tape Marketing decided he was sick of all the bad economic news and talk of doom and gloom. So he decided to do something positive. He created Make A Referral Week for March 9-13, calling it the small business referral stimulus program. The goal is to promote small business and help stimulate the economy by making referrals to other small businesses. Lightning Labels is participating in Make A Referral Week with this blog post. Today I am writing about one of our long time vendors, someone we have been doing business with since we started back in 2002. This company is called Masterpiece Graphix and they are the leaders in their narrow niche. What they do is coat materials for HP-Indigo presses. This is a very narrow niche but any digital label printer who has struggled with print quality issues knows coating is critical. In order to print on HP-Indigo label presses a material must be pre-coated so that it will receive the special HP-Indigo ElectroInk. All the major label material vendors offer some materials that are pre-coated but we know from experience that no one has this process nailed down like Masterpiece Graphix. They are a small family business founded in 1998 by Doug Watson. Over the years we have found their quality to be excellent and customer service second to none. They have opened up the options for many digital label printers by allowing us to order any label material we like, not just the 10-12 most popular materials pushed by the major vendors. I know many people in the label printing industry read this blog. If you want a reliable vendor for all your HP-Indigo coated materials then give Masterpiece Graphix a call. Tell them Lightning Labels sent you as part of Make A Referral Week.

  • The Tropicana New Packaging "Fiasco"

    Tropicana Last month I wrote about the packaging makeover of Tropicana Fruit Juice. Well after a backlash from loyal customers, last week they decided to switch back to their original packaging. Much has been written about Tropicana these last couple of months since they first introduced the new packaging. As I said in my post I wasn't a big fan of the new packaging, and I never found anyone who had positive things to say about it. But I have been reflecting about this the last few days and I think overall this was a positive experience for the Tropicana brand. For a start, there were hundreds of news articles (and thousands of blog articles) written about their failed packaging makeover. When they made the announcement they were changing back to the original packaging this was picked up by major news organizations such as NPR, CNN, CNBC and the New York Times. Now, when was the last time you heard the Tropicana brand on NPR - my guess is never. Here is my take on the whole "fiasco." So, they made a costly mistake which angered some of their best customers. But they didn't just sit around and ignored the noise, they listened and took action. Their loyal customers felt seen and are probably now even more loyal to their brand than ever before. And they received millions of dollars worth of new publicity that they would never have received if they hadn't changed their packaging. And the packaging makeover wasn't a total loss. They are keeping the new orange shaped squeeze screw top. Obviously, the average small business is not going to get on NPR when they change their product label or packaging no matter they do. So the takeaway for the rest of us I believe is that when you do a packaging makeover tread very carefully. Contact your top customers to solicit their feedback. And make sure you leave some component of your label or package the same so the customer will still recognize your product on the grocery store shelf. Then when your new packaging has been launched listen to your customers and respond if necessary.

1-6 of 6

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.