Monthly Archives: June 2009

  • Top 5 Label and Packaging Blogs

    Packaging I read a lot of blogs. I try and subscribe to every blog I find that is relevant to the label and packaging industry. While I don't read every word published by these blogs I do try and scan the headlines so I can keep the pulse of what is happening in this industry. So here I have gathered what I consider to be the five most important blogs for those people who buy labels and packaging. You can learn a great deal from these blogs, I encourage you to check them out below and subscribe to the ones that most appeal to you. The Dieline - if you are involved in packaging design in any way this blog is a must read. It really is "the worlds #1 packaging design website", a claim they make on their site. Every day they publish some of the most innovative and beautiful packaging being created. The photo above is from a recent post on the Dieline. Sustainable is Good - is focused on sustainable packaging. With a variety of contributors you will read about unique packaging that is created with environmental sustainability in mind. Even though the focus is sustainable packaging you will see some eye-catching designs on this blog. Lovely Package - is another blog featuring beautiful packaging designs. It is similar to the Dieline but has a more international focus, so you will see striking packaging from all over the world. Packaging Diva - one of the blogs by Joann Hines, also known as the Packaging Diva. This blog focuses on educating the reader about all aspects of packaging. While there are lots of pretty packaging pictures, the real value of the Packaging Diva's blog are the articles about all aspects of branding and packaging. The Package Unseen - this is a more cerebral blog that discusses packaging design in the context of the impact it has on our culture. Authored by Richard Shear who has over 25 years experience in international consumer package design for such big players as Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and Proctor & Gamble.

  • Reaching the ‘Hooray Zone’ in Business

    How-to-be-happy-in-business-venn-diagram

    I ran across this Venn diagram “How to Be Happy in Business” the other day on Bud Cadell’s blog, What Consumes Me, and immediately thought of the successful small businesses we have featured in our quarterly newsletter, The Lighting Flash. Whether or not they have ever seen Bud’s plan for reaching what he calls the Hooray Zone in business, they are following it. They have figured out what products and services they are most passionate about (What We Want to Do) that match their skills, talents, and resources (What We Do Well), and built their businesses on those that are most profitable (What We Can Be Paid to Do).

    Like this diagram as much as I do? You can purchase a How to Be Happy in Business Poster from Zazzle.com.

    “How to Be Happy in Business” Venn diagram by Bud Caddell available for distribution under Creative Commons License 2.0

  • Can You Tell Where a Product is Made by the Barcode?

    EAN-barcode

    Recently, I have noticed some emails and Twitter conversations claiming that you can tell where a product comes from by the first three numbers of a barcode. The idea being that you can avoid products made in certain countries such as China just by looking at the barcode. This is not really true. So I thought I would clear up some confusion here.

    The problem stems from a misunderstanding of the EAN-13 barcode which is shown above. The EAN barcode (typically 13 numbers) is the European and Asian version of the American UPC barcode (that has 12 numbers). Now, there are dozens of countries in Europe and Asia and most of these countries have their own organizations for issuing barcodes. The first three numbers of the EAN-13 barcode do indicate which country issued the barcode. But the important point to note is that it does not indicate where a product is manufactured just the country that issued the barcode. For example a company in Germany may source a product from China but apply for a barcode in Germany so it will have the German prefix on the barcode.

    UPC-barcode Having said all that, for US consumers most products use the good old American UPC barcode pictured above (which turns 35 this month). This is a 12 digit barcode and with this barcode there is no way to tell where the product was made. Take a look at the barcodes next time you are at the grocery store. Most products, even those made in Europe and Asia have the 12 digit UPC barcode. The distributors for those products most likely applied for a barcode in this country and so they carry the UPC barcode.

    The bottom line is if you want to know where a product is manufactured you need to read the label carefully. Most (but not all) products will display a country of origin on the label. If that doesn't work the only other option for you is to do a bit of research and try and work it out for yourself. The reality is that looking at the barcode really won't help find out where a product is made.

    Additional Resources

    Explanation of barcode changes that occurred in January 2005

    Search the GS1 database to find out which company owns the barcode

    EAN barcode explained on Wikipedia

  • How to Build Brand Trust with Product Packaging

    Duraflame_packaging_tells_a_story

    When I was in the grocery store a few days ago, I noticed a man shopping for crackers. One by one, he would hold a box up to his ear, shake it, and then scowl.

    I asked him why he seemed upset. He told me he felt tricked by the companies making the crackers because the boxes were still the same size, but seemed to have less crackers in them than they used to. Some of the brands were also reducing the size of the crackers themselves, unless he was imagining things, he added. “It makes me feel cheated, like they’re trying to trick me!”

    No, this man was not imagining things, these cracker manufacturers were really trying to trick him. Not because they were evil, but because they were trying to cut costs. Sadly, though, cutting costs in any way that a consumer might characterize as deceptive will likely backfire on you.

    In these difficult economic times, it is more important than ever for product makers to give consumers a reason to trust in their brands. Product packaging is a cost-effective way to build trusted relationships with your customers that will carry you through this recession.

    Here are a few ways to build trust in your brand when designing your product packaging.

    • If your product is genuinely environmentally friendly, say so on its packaging. If it’s not, don’t pretend it is! Doing so is called greenwashing. Greenwashing destroys, not builds, consumer trust.
    • Tell a story with your packaging. The story should be about your product, your company, or (preferably) both.
    • Connect with potential buyers on an emotional level. Although they are paying more attention to value and sticker prices, consumers are still hungry for emotionally-satisfying products. Duraflame's package (pictured above) depicts a happy family cuddled up around a roaring fire. This tells a story about what the product does, as well as connects emotionally with potential customers who have fond memories of time spent with loved ones around a cozy fireplace.

    I challenge you to incorporate one or more of these tips into your product label designs. If you do, please be sure to let me know your results!

    Related Posts

    Color Psychology: What it is, and How it Can Boost Your Sales

    How 'Critters' Help Sell Wine and Beer

  • Get Feedback on Your Packaging with PackagingLaunch.com

    Logo Have you ever wondered if your packaging is all it can be? Maybe you would like a packaging makeover but can't afford the thousands of dollars that it would cost to hire a consultant. JoAnn Hines, also known as the Packaging Diva, has recently created PackagingLaunch.com where companies can get their packaging critiqued by a panel of experts for a fraction of the cost it would take to hire a consultant. On PackagingLaunch.com there is feedback from experts in package design, branding, intellectual property, product development, labeling and manufacturing. I am proud to have been asked by JoAnn to provide the commentary on labeling. I get no compensation for doing this, I look at it as another way to get our name out in front of companies that buy custom labels and packaging. PackagingLaunch.com leverages the internet and the power of social media to allow companies to improve their packaging in a cost effective way. If you are looking for some expert feedback on your packaging you can sign up here.

  • New Barcode Scanning Technology Teaches iPhone New Tricks

    Teaching-iphone-new-tricks

    "Coca #5 iPhone 3G" by nao-cha (left), available under a Creative Commons License

    Last week I wrote about the RedLaser iPhone app, which allows serious shoppers to compare in-store prices with online ones by scanning barcodes with their iPhones. In the near future, RedLaser technology could also help you remember to pick up the milk, or select the perfect bottle of wine for any occasion. Coupons, Inc. is currently figuring out how to integrate the barcode scanning technology into Grocery iQ, a grocery shopping application that works both the iPhone and iPod Touch. The finished product will reportedly allow you to scan grocery items directly into your shopping list on your iPhone, find and print coupons for those items, and re-arrange your grocery list to match the layout of your favorite supermarket. Applied Ambiguities, LLC is also incorporating RedLaser technology into their Cor.kz Wine Info iPhone app. Fast Company has ranked Cor.kz as one of the 25 “must have” iPhone apps. Adding barcode scanning functionality to Cor.kz will make it easier for users to locate detailed information on almost any wine currently on the market using their iPhones. You might be also be interested to know that RedLaser’s creator, Boulder-based technology startup Occipital, LLC, has also released the barcode scanning technology to iPhone developers everywhere. According to the RedLaser website, your iPhone could soon be able to perform all kinds of neat barcode scanning tricks. Here are a few to fuel your imagination: • Pull up lists of a list of book reviews for books you spot at your local library (just scan their barcodes) • Beam a list of movies you’d like to watch from the movie store to your TiVo at home (just scan their barcodes) • Find online coupons for products you frequently purchase (just scan their barcodes) New technology like RedLaser is giving barcodes an increasingly important role in product sales, which makes it more important than ever to have your barcode labels professionally designed and printed by someone you trust.

  • Explaining the Plastic Recycling Numbers

    0102-recycle If Dustin Hoffman's character in The Graduate had taken the one word of advice given to him in that iconic movie he probably would have done very well for himself. Plastics. They pervade our daily life in the 21st century more than ever before. In 1988 the Society of the Plastics Industry created the plastics numbering system that we use today in order to make it easier for recyclers to sort the different types of plastic. The numbers are officially called the resin identification codes and it is a national system with 39 states requiring their use on all plastic containers. We know that many of the product labels we print end up on plastic containers, so I thought it might be useful to provide an explanation of what the numbers mean: 1. PET or PETE - polyethylene terephthalate (referred to thankfully as PET) is the most commonly used plastic material. It is popular for soda bottles, bottled water and many types of food because it is light, clear and durable. It can be recycled easily into carpet, fleece, tote bags and furniture. 2. HDPE - high density polyethylene is a more durable plastic that is used in containers for detergent and household cleaners, also milk jugs, juice, shampoo, cosmetics and some shopping bags. It is typically recycled into motor oil bottles, plastic lumber, pipe, floor tiles, buckets and recycling bins. 3. PVC or V - polyvinyl chloride is an extremely tough plastic that weathers well so it used for piping, siding, window frames, medical equipment and cable insulation. It is rarely recycled but it can be recycled into more piping, decking, floor tiles, traffic cones and garden hoses. 4. LDPE - low density polyethylene has good toughness as well as flexibility which is why it is used predominantly in bags for groceries, bread, dry cleaning and garbage. It is also used in many squeezable bottles. It can be recycled into shipping envelopes, trash can liners, floor tile and plastic lumber. 5. PP - polypropylene is used in some yogurt containers as well as syrup and ketchup bottles, straws, bottle caps and medicine bottles. Polypropylene has a high melting point so it is also used for containers of hot liquids. It can be recycled into signal lights, battery cases, brooms, rakes, ice scrapers and bicycle racks. 6. PS - polystyrene is commonly used for disposable plates and cups, egg cartons, meat trays, CD and DVD cases and packaging peanuts. It can be recycled into thermal insulation, light switch plates, license plate frames, camera casings, and foam packaging. 7. Other - this means that the plastic is not made from any of the six main resins and it could be a combination of resins. Bioplastics such as PLA fall into this category as well as polycarbonate and nylons. Some recycling centers take number 7 containers and they are typically recycled into plastic lumber or custom-made products. The vast majority of plastic bottles used today are either #1 or #2, and many communities will only accept these kinds of plastics for recycling. It is a shame that there is no national recycling program that would standardize recycling across the country and allow the recycling of all the different types of plastic. But that is a subject for a different day. Additional Resources The Daily Green Plastic Recycling on Wikipedia The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers The American Chemistry Council guide to plastic packaging resins

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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.