Long-term Relevance Beats Out ‘Design du jour’ with Custom Labels and Stickers
Remember (or heard about) those “trendy” design colors pink, bright yellow and aqua in homes of the fifties? While those colors, and various applications of them, have come and gone…and come and gone…and come and gone since then, one constant remains: What’s trendy today can be the object of tomorrow’s demolition crew. The same is true when it comes to custom labels and stickers, and other forms of branding design.
According to graphic designer Debi Knight, owner of Colorado-based Knight Design Studio, “Overly trendy brand design may reflect your desired image today, but what about down the road? Since brand recognition generally works most effectively over the long haul, don’t radically change it too often.”
She adds, “Your logo especially should reflect the nature of the enterprise while remaining relevant over the lifetime of the organization. Presuming you expect that lifetime to be longer than a year or two, opt for a look that is timeless and classic—instead of designing a cutting-edge look that will be decidedly dated all too soon.”
Work Effectively with Printed Labels and Stickers
Knight offers other hands-on tips that can make brand design work most effectively with a variety of applications, including printed labels and stickers:
1. Create artwork in vector art, usually in Adobe Illustrator. Scalable vector art looks good, clear and crisp on everything from a small bottle to billboard. Make sure to change fonts to outlines in the final artwork so that it’s compatible with any computer or software.
Often, creating artwork in Photoshop will cause problems. While Photoshop provides some cool effects not available in Illustrator, the software creates bitmapped instead of vector art. While it will appear okay on the screen or printed (or reduced from the original art), enlarging it more than about 120 percent will pixelate the art (similar to what happens to your TV picture when the signal gets too weak).
2. Be memorable in your branding with a unique logo mark and a distinctive typeface that represents your corporate culture—while keeping messaging simple and direct. Using a visual symbol in conjunction with type can make your branding more memorable, but it must be a symbol that people will connect with mentally or emotionally. Otherwise, it may look great but people won’t link it to your product or company (e.g., how many TV commercials are incredibly entertaining, but when asked to name the product later you can’t remember?)
3. Make symbol(s) and type work together when deploying both in a logo. Symbols should be simple enough to work in both small and large sizes. Make the design/illustration clean and crisp.
4. Choose a limited color palette and generally use classic colors that don’t come and go with each passing fad. Strive to include black because it makes other colors brighter and more eye-popping. Black is also the most readable type color when used with a white background that still prevails on many product labels and packages.
While your number of color selections is best limited, the palette from which to choose is very robust, thanks to today’s digital printing. No longer does printing have to conform to primary ink colors. From pale shades of chartreuse to rich berry reds, options abound.
Rethinking Custom Label Looks?
While it’s nice to get it right the first time with custom labels, digital label printing affordability and flexibility give you room to grow and regear as marketplace preferences and perceptions change.
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