Label printing is intimidating. There’s jargon, checkboxes, and almost too many options. It’s extra hard if you’re just starting and asking yourself, “where do I start? How do I know if I’ve covered all the bases?" First of all. You’re not alone—we’re here to help!
Presenting your one-stop list to everything you should be asking before you order labels—so you can feel as prepared as possible (no matter whom you’re working with.)
1. What’s my label’s lifecycle?
Labels are like shoes. There are stocks and laminates for all occasions, but the wrong ones will ruin your day. If you’re heading to the beach, you’re not going to want to wear rubber boots, and if your label is going to be in the cooler, you’re going to want it to be water-proof. So you have to ask yourself, where are these things going to live? Then communicate this to your Specialist so they can help you find the right materials (pair? Our metaphors may not be flawless, but our labels are, and that’s what matters.).
2. When do I need my labels by?
You’ve got a vision, but you’ve also got deadlines. We all do; we’ve all been there. It seems obvious, but custom label printing is way more than just pressing a button and watching the finished project shooting out. It requires work, multiple runs, and you know, people. That means setting packaging dates before ordering labels, or working last minute can seriously limit your options. So make sure you’ve given yourself enough time to give your project the dedication and care it deserves. We recommend giving yourself two weeks minimum to plan for the unexpected, even longer if you want to get really crazy with it! (Which, by the way, we totally support.)
3. How will this look when it’s printed?
Real talk. It would be best if you prepared for minor, necessary changes. They might include the bleed, die line, or just the difference between the RGB and CMYK versions of your design. Main point? The more polished your work and the closer your project is to the artwork guidelines, the lower your chance is of changes and surprises in the finished product.
4. What’s a fair price?
This one is a doozy. Of course, before you place your order, you should know what kind of price you’re getting and what the value behind it is. So, let’s dive into yet another list (a list within a list, list-ception even).
- Quantity drives prices in the label world. There’s a fancy thing called ‘volume price breaks,’ which means the more you buy, the lower your cost per label.
- If you’re submitting new artwork, you’ll be looking at a pre-flight charge, as well as the fees associated with any sampling or colour matching processes.
- If you have a uniquely shaped die, you’ll need to order a custom die, that’ll be an extra one time cost. You can read a bit more about what goes into a custom die here.
- Flexo vs. Digital printer. With flexo, the setup fees are higher, but at a massive scale, it can be a lower price per label. However, the minimum volume is high, and it’s hard to make changes to your artwork. With digital, it’s easy to make changes and keep things flexible. The minimums are lower, and gang-run pricing allows you to get multiple designs done while taking advantage of the same price breaks. However, the price per label can be higher. You can read more about the differences between flexo and digital here.
Really, like anything else, you get what you paid for, and the cheapest option is not always best. Your product and vision deserve the time and money it takes to truly stand out on the shelves, and you’re paying for the techniques and innovations that will get them there. That’s why we pride ourselves on being idea people and partners who drive brands forwards, not just inexpensive ‘order takers.’
5. How many labels do I need?
Again, quantity is killer and forecasting is key in label ordering. Your first instinct may be to order the exact number of labels you’ll be applying for your current batch of products. However, you can save time and money by increasing the quantity and combining your future orders into one big order to take advantage of gang-run printing for volume price breaks. The only limit is your inventory capacity and how far ahead you’re comfortable forecasting.
Summit Plus makes planning and organizing your order much more manageable. With price breaks, you can see and your full order history available 24/7. It’s the easiest way to order your labels. Check out Summit Plus to start planning your orders today.
6. How am I going to apply my labels?
Ah, the age-old question. Application. We’ve gotten this one so many times we're working on a full blog on the different ways you can label your products. Whether you’re labelling with a co-packer (like Vessel Packaging) or you’re labelling in-house, by hand with a crank, or with no technology except elbow grease (we’ve been there too, we know the pain), each method has a unique challenge, and each machine is different.
For the best results, read up on your specs or ask your applicators about:
- Rewind direction—which way should the labels be coming off the roll?
- Efficiency and adhesive strength—do you need a unique liner for smooth application? Does your co-packer require a particular liner material?
- Material restrictions—some co-packers have restrictions on materials and widths in their packing lines. Make sure you know what these are ahead of time.
- Maximum roll size—some machines can only fit rolls up to a specific size, so you’ll want to make sure your labels are wound on rolls that size. Diameter, circumference, or the number of labels per roll are all helpful ways of determining your label rolls fit your machine.
7. What about the environment?
Greta’s time is here, and the environment is at the forefront for many of us. Luckily, there’s a variety of green options available today for companies prepared to go green. Labels made from 30% and 100% post-consumer waste paper, high-efficiency recyclable PET-liners made from post-consumer materials, or even ultra-conservative stone paper. (All of which we carry by the way.)
As a digital printer, we’re proud to be a business that focuses on environmental responsibility, we use just 1/10th the setup waste of traditional technology and focus on carbon-neutral solutions to support our partners in their work to make a difference.
Really, these are all questions any good label supplier should be asking and walking you through before processing your order. But, we know not everyone can be outstanding—and it never hurts to have your answers ready to go when the time comes.
We’re here to help, so if you have questions about how any of this works—partner or not—get in touch. Call, shoot us an email, send a homing pigeon—we want to hear from you and answer all your label questions! (Seriously, we’re so passionate about this stuff we're literally waiting by the phone to talk labels with you).
Get even better prepared by downloading our free Free Label Artwork Checklist below, before you start your next order!