Monthly Archives: April 2011

  • Chicago-Based Real Estate Agents Using QR Codes

    A variety of industries are recognizing the power and potential that quick response codes can offer them and have started incorporating them in unique ways.

    For example, Chicago-based real estate agents and brokers have begun utilizing QR codes and a variety of other mobile marketing tactics to reach consumers. Including the codes on for-sale signs allows passersby to learn about a property immediately, without having to call and seek out information hours or even days later.

    "Consumers today want information not quickly, they want it instantaneously," said Bev Thorne, chief marketing officer of Century 21 Real Estate, to The Chicago Tribune. "They don't want to wait for it when they get home. It used to be cool that they could go home and get it at 11:30 p.m. without waiting for the agent. This is the new way to be front and center in front of the consumer."

    Other mobile efforts in the real estate market include text messaging campaigns urging consumers to send a text to agencies in order to recieve a brief, 100-character message about the property. 

  • FDA Calorie Labeling Could Cost Vending Machine Operators $50,000

    The Food and Drugs Administration's proposed calorie labeling plan was received with mixed reviews by vending machine operators recently. This week, vendors at the National Automatic Merchandise Association's One Show at McCormick Place in Chicago expressed concern about the extra expense – estimated between $3,000 and $50,000 – of implementing new food labels on items in vending machines, according to Medill Reports.

    Earlier this month, the FDA announced a proposed ruling that would require restaurants, fast food chains, coffee shops and vending machines to label the calorie content of menu items. The new labeling regulation comes as an effort to combat the obesity epidemic that is afflicting the nation, which The Los Angeles Times reports tacks on an additional $160 billion annually to the nation's healthcare debt.

    According to Medill Reports, the law requires vendors who operate 20 or more vending machines to display calorie information on a product at the point of purchase. It is anticipated that operators will submit a proposal to the FDA suggesting a reduced burden for vending machine operators.

  • Cutest Animals Ever

    LL Employees Reminisce About Company Mascots, Share Pet Photos

    Millie & Fred, the Original Lightning Labels Mascots

    Millie (pictured here) and Fred were the original Lightning Labels mascots.
    Millie (pictured here) and Fred were the original Lightning Labels mascots.

    Even if we don't all have pets of our own, the Lightning Labels Team adores animals. Especially cute ones. We love animals so much, in fact, that Lightning Labels once adopted two cats from a nearby animal shelter and made them its official mascots. Millie and Fred, who were six years old at the time, even had their own office at the Lightning Labels production facility, complete with cat beds, toys, and plenty of food. "They were really cute. They used to sit in my lap," recalled Cari Goldman, our Graphic Designer. "I miss them." Scott Coan, one of our Pre-Press Technicians, developed a special bond with Millie. Her favorite place to "work" in the office was Scott's lap, and he used to carry her to the printer and back. Scott did, however, have to occasionally set boundaries with Millie. "When she wanted to ride my shoulder all of the time, I sort of laid down the law," Scott recalled. Fred had a mellower disposition, which most employees attributed to his multiple health issues, including diabetes. Although Lightning Labels no longer has bonafied animal mascots, many of the company's employees have equally adorable pets at home that are cherished members of their families. The photos below show you just how precious these animals are. I hope you enjoy browsing these cute pet photos as much as I did.

    Bugs & Essie

    We are not sure what Bugs has his eye on in this photo, but one thing is for sure: Bugs is not going to let it get away.
    We are not sure what Bugs has his eye on in this photo, but one thing is for sure: Bugs is not going to let it get away.
    Essie's shyness just adds to the adorable quality this little dog posseses
    Essie's shyness just adds to this little dog's adorableness.

    Our General Manager, James Lowry, owns two pets. Bugs is a somewhat mischievous, fun-loving cat. Essie is not quite as outgoing, and her shyness only adds to this sweet little dog's charm. And as you can see from the photos of the two, James' daughters are gifted amateur photographers.

    Diamond & Majik

    Diamond, an Arabian stallion, apparently has a sense of humor
    Diamond may be retired from his career as a barrel racer, but he apparently hasn't lost his sense of humor as evidenced by the smiley face "accessory" he is wearing in this photo.
    Majik loves to cuddle up his owner's lap almost as much as he loves catnip
    Majik is a quite the princess, both in looks and manners ... if princesses are allowed to indulge in catnip, that is. (It's only two or three times a week, Majik claims.)

    Cari says that she owns a horse and cat, although I have a suspicion that it might be more precise to say that they own her. She has had 17-year-old Majik, a.k.a. The Furry Little Overlord" for over 15 of the feline's 17 years. "She may be old, but she's spry, and she's quite adept at making her demands known," Cari said. Majik "sweetly" greets Cari each morning with, "Get out of bed and feed me now!" In the evenings, Cari serves as the personal taster of Her Highness, meaning that she tastes the food on "Cari's" dinner plate before serving it to Majik. One of twice a week, Majik indulges in a bit of catnip. "I shouldn't call my mistress a junkie," Cari admitted, "But behind her back I do refer to her as 'Stoner Kitty'." Cari characterizes her 20-year old Arabian stallion, who is retired from barrel racing, as a big puppy who is always happy to greet her and her family. One of his favorite past times is checking the family members' pockets for apples and carrots. "Once he's finished them, he has to settle for plain grass, but he'll stuff his face anyway," Cari said. Apparently, Diamond is also quite smooth with the ladies and well-mannered with everyone in general. Unless food is involved.

    Gigi & Grover

    Gigi the Keeshond pictured in her full glory
    Gigi the Keeshond pictured in her full glory.
    Gigi showing off "her" pet cat
    Gigi showing off "her" pet cat.

    R.J. Kniss, one of our Customer Service Representatives, is quite attached to his goofy pets. Gigi, a gorgeous Keeshond, and Grover, a tabby cat, are great friends who have quite a bit in common. They both like to cuddle up and take long naps together, share Gigi's cookies and water bowl, and jump on the bed. They also like getting their butts scratched, and are turned off by yuppy pet food.

    Sophie & Allie

    Tammie's Shiba Inu loves the snow, but might benefit from a pair of "Doggles" to protect his eyes.
    Tammie's Shiba Inu loves the snow, but might benefit from a pair of "Doggles" to protect his eyes.
    Allie is the cutest cattle dog mix we know. Aww ...
    Allie is the cutest Cattle Dog mix we know. Aww ...

    Tammie MacLachland, our Customer Service Manager, is a true animal lover. About the only websites she ever visits for fun on the Internet have funny pet videos and cute animal photos. Therefore, it is only natural that she has two dogs of her own (and wishes that she had more). Sophie, a Shiba Inu, and Allie, a Cattle Dog mix, have similar tan and cream coats. They love to play and relax together, and have been spotted napping together.

    Sassy & Oakley

    Sassy is as photogenic as she is beautiful.
    Sassy is as photogenic as she is beautiful.
    Oakley, a Lab mix, takes a moment to ponder life
    Oakley, a Lab mix, takes a moment to ponder life

    Scott adopted Millie after she retired from being an office mascot at Lightning Labels. And although Millie is no longer with him, he enjoys spending time with his pets Sassy and Oakley. Scott rescued Oakley, a black Lab mix, from the Boulder Human Society three years ago. About six months after welcoming Oakley into their home, Scott and and his wife adopted Sassy, a beautiful cat with Persian looks. Oakley's hobbies include walking and playing in the snow. Sassy, on the other hand, prefers sitting in the sun and getting her hair brushed.

    Scout

    Scout, a blue merle Sheltie, enjoys a warm Autumn day amidst a grove of Colorado Aspens.
    Scout, a blue merle Sheltie, enjoys a warm Autumn day amidst a grove of Colorado Aspens.

    My own dog, Scout, is a four-year-old Shetland Sheepdog with a blue merle coat. My "pretty boy" is extremely friendly and loves to get attention by performing tricks ... especially when there are treats involved. Although he has a ton of energy, he also enjoys snuggling up next to me on the couch when I am reading or working on the computer. His favorite hobbies are running, snowshoeing, solving puzzles, and chasing squirrels. A gift from one of my sisters who has a dog named Atticus, Scout is named for a character in Harper Lee's literary masterpiece "To Kill a Mockingbird". Spending time with Scout brings me immense joy.

  • Dairy Industry Has Mixed Views on Dairy COOL Act

    A dairy labeling regulation intending to help U.S. farmers may actually have the opposite effect and result in less American dairy products on grocer's shelves.

    According to the website Dairy Reporter, the Dairy COOL Act of 2011, which calls for country-of-origin labeling on all dairy products, could encourage manufacturers to "substitute vegetable-based or other protein ingredients instead of dairy ingredients" in an effort to avoid identifying where products have come from.

    "The phrase 'any other dairy product' is problematic and open to interpretation," said an International Dairy Foods Association spokeswoman, the source noted. "For instance, in the recently released rule to implement the dairy import assessment, USDA included cocoas and bakers' dough under the category of 'dairy products.'"

    However, supporters of the bill say that it would benefit the U.S., which has suffered losses in the past 10 years trying to compete with foreign products. According to the president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, Doug Peterson, other countries' products do not have the same economic or environmental standards as the U.S., The Twin Cities Daily Planet reported. 

  • Italian and American Wineries Engage Consumers with QR Codes on Labels

    Carpineto Winery is claiming to be the first winery in Italy to leverage quick response codes, printing them on its wine labels to distribute in the U.S.

    The 2-D barcodes will be featured on the brand's latest vintages of Chianti Classico DOCG, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva, Dogajolo Rosso IGT and Dogajolo Bianco IGT. Once scanned, they will provide consumers with more information about the wine they choose.

    "Today's customers demand fast and comprehensive information," said G.C.Sacchet, winemaker and co-founder of Carpineto, in a statement. "The modern smartphones ... can interface with the internet and obtain the vital statistics of each wine. To facilitate this transfer of information, we've ensured that the data arrives to the end consumer's smartphone in their language of choice."

    Carpineto may claim to be the first wine label to feature QR codes in Italy, but many American wineries have adopted this tactic. J Vineyards and Winery in California began including them on its wine labels this month, allowing consumers to watch a one-minute video educating them on the wine and suggested food pairing options.

  • Maine and Oregon May Adopt Cellphone Warning Labels

    A new version of a previously rejected bill regarding cellphone warning labels may be passed in Maine.

    Last year, a similar bill was tossed out by the state, but a strengthened version has recently been proposed. The new bill would require cellphones to feature warning labels and mobile device retailers to post notices of the potential health hazards of using the technology, The Morning Sentinel reported.

    Maine is not the only state to take up with the idea of warning labels on cellphones. Oregon is also proposing a similar law, that would require warnings advising consumers of the increased risk of brain cancer. However, according to KBND-AM radio, some doctors oppose the bill because studies are unclear on the link between health risks and cellphone use.

    San Francisco also considered similar measures to force cellphone retailers to distribute reading material relating the aforementioned health risks. However, the initiative was been put on hold once it came under fire from the wireless industry, which claimed its First Amendment rights were at state.

    "You can't compel speech," Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association spokesperson John Walls told CNET. "Telling retailers to give out that information violates the First Amendment." 

  • Fashion Designers Urged To Adopt Sizing Label Standardization

    For women, shopping for clothing can often turn into a nightmare due to inconsistency among sizing labels. Typically, women must try on a variety of sizes by different brands in order to find an item that fits, as a 27-inch waistline sometimes equates to a size 6 with one company and a size 2 with another.

    Consider, for example, that at Marc Jacobs, a woman with a 27-inch waistline is a size 8 or 10, but at Chico's, she is a triple 0, according to The New York Times. Furthermore, none of these measurements take into consideration her hips, bust or height.

    Now, however, companies and women alike are pushing for more informative sizing labels, as well as standardization across the clothing and fashion industry.

    "It would be nice just to take [a pair of pants,] look at the label and say, 'That should fit me,'" Marie-Eve Faust, program director of fashion merchandising at Philadelphia University, told The New York Times.

    Despite sizing labels' relative inaccuracies, they seem to have a major impact on women's self esteem, so much so that many editors cut them out of clothing during celebrity photo shoots to ensure subjects will wear the items, the morning news program Today reported.

  • Need to Boost Sales? QR Codes Might Be Your Answer

    Learn More in the Spring 2011 Edition of the Lightning Flash Newsletter

    The Spring 2011 edition of our newsletter, The Lightning Flash, focuses on QR codes & how you can leverage them to grow your business

    The latest edition of the Lightning Flash is now available online! You can download a print-ready PDF of our popular quarterly newsletter, or read individual articles online.

    This issue of the Lightning Flash covers:

    • QR codes – what they are and how to leverage them to grow your business

    • The “anatomy” of a QR code

    • Great Divide Brewing co. explains how combining great beer, quality labels and excellent treatment of employees made them one of the best brewers in the world

    • New website features that make it even easier to do business with us

    • A brief article from our General Manager, James Lowry, discussing how you can benefit from using QR Codes

    To  read past editions of The Lightning Flash, visit our Newsletter Archives. To get an instant quote for your label order online, visit the Lightning Labels website; or call us toll-free at 1.888.685.2235.

  • New Drug Labeling Could Reduce Number of ER Patients

    A new drug labeling test is in the works in an effort to stem the number of patients who end up in the emergency room for taking their medication incorrectly. The FDA plans to try out single-page information sheets for consumers, replacing the multi-page inserts and medication guides that are currently used by most retail pharmacies.

    Additionally, the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, which sets the standards that are put forth by the FDA, is developing new prescription labels that will hold all pharmacies to a national standard. These labels would require all medications to feature clear, easy-to-follow labels regarding the dosage and timing as well as simply state the drug's purpose, The Wall Street Journal reported.

    "We need to create better awareness about the gamut of harm that can occur," Karen Weiss, program director of the FDA's Safe Use Initiative, told the source.

    Falling on the heels of this is a debate about whether or not the government is too controlling regarding the release of new drugs. Supporters say new drugs potentially help patients who benefit from their use and should be released, but those against it say there is not sufficient testing done on the drugs that are brought to the table.

  • Consumers Care Less About Recycling, Sustainable Packaging

    'Going green' has been the latest trend in recent years, with companies from all industries looking to adopt this strategy. However, according to a recent report, the number of consumers concerned with recycling has declined in recent years.

    According to Perception Research Service's "Packaging and the Environment" report, 38 percent of consumers think they should be responsible for recycling product packaging, down from 42 percent in 2009. Additionally, they are less likely to purchase those products featuring sustainable packaging.

    Despite these statistics, the report did reveal that consumers are more interested in purchasing products that are made from recycled materials, up from 39 percent in 2009 to 48 percent last year. However, only 17 percent of consumers will actually examine a package to see if it's recyclable before purchasing it.

    "It's becoming clear that while consumers may voice concern for the environment, most appear unwilling, at the moment, to make any major sacrifices to make a difference. They'd rather rely on manufacturers to provide products and packaging that they can feel good about, without changing their behavior, giving up performance or paying more," Jonathan Asher, senior vice president of PRS, in a statement.

    Regardless of consumers' concerns with packaging, more companies are launching sustainable efforts, from Coca-Cola's PlantBottle to Mattel's decreased twist-tie initiative. 

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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.