How Custom Tags and Labels Help Secure Strong Connections
We all know how adversely labels can affect a person’s self-image. A well-constructed product label or custom tag, on the other hand, can enhance a company’s image, reminding us that these are the only descriptives needed.
In addition to building brand awareness, labels and tags allow dedicated print professionals to showcase their knowledge of consumer design preferences and technological advances in the sector. In order to understand how distributors can end up tagged as dependable providers, Print+Promo connected with Pat Larson, marketing director for Repacorp Inc., Tipp City, Ohio; and Debbi Ulmer, who holds the same role for Discount Labels, New Albany, Ind.
Regardless of which area of consumerism we address, it seems that no product category finds itself devoid of “stuff.” Everywhere we turn, we find items that want to make lasting impressions not only through what they will directly add to our lives by healing, nourishing or educating, but also what they will do for our eagerness for visual appeal. Custom tags and labels ambitiously play the roles of attention grabbers for companies, gladly letting the commodities that they adorn score lasting renown. While we often hear that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, the outward look of something in the promotional world often factors into whether end-users will add it to their lives.
“A label can make or break a brand,” Ulmer bluntly offered. “It’s vital to have the right combination of material, color and finish, combined with a design to help a product stand out or hold up.”
Many might be quick to treat a tag or a label as an afterthought along the path to purchase, but our experts feel the exterior is as important as the inner contents of the package, especially when businesses are placing such emphasis on one-upping their competitors. Looking to forge a perfect marriage between external allure and quality products, they want to be experts in sating the public, and distributors should be clamoring to join the never-ending journey that is meeting various needs.
“It is always helpful to be knowledgeable about the products you sell, but what you really need to know and understand is the label’s application,” Larson said regarding what distributors must understand about materials, customers’ requests, and advances in the construction of labels and tags. “Know what the label will be applied to, conditions in which it is applied and the environment that the label will endure during its life cycle.
“If you know the label’s application, your labeling supplier will be able to help you with selecting the right material and adhesive,” she continued. “For new applications, or if you are switching materials, you will want to get a sample roll from your supplier. Have your customer test and sign off on the material before you go to print.”
If we were to generalize about the world of commerce, we could argue that certain goods, no matter how much effort goes into their composition, sell themselves. For example, think, especially now that fall and football season are upon us, about sports equipment, which does not need to be ritzy to win regard. For goods that require that ornamental boost, the tag and label market, particularly the latter thanks to such methods as flexography and digital printing, are keen on keeping distributors content as they seek business.
“Custom labels and tags are great for both the supplier and the reseller to sell because they are consumables,” Larson opined. “There is always potential for new and repeat business.”
Because of those prospects, it’s a good time to expand on the earlier point about easy sales. While labels are often helpful in peddling products, they themselves require that distributors be versed in their applications.
“Labels aren’t as simple as they seem, so resellers can help their customer through education,” Larson advised. “For example, you use different adhesives if the label is applied to a frozen product versus if the application occurs before the product is frozen. There are so many different materials, adhesives, varnishes and laminates from which to choose depending on the product’s application and branding requirements, and resellers can guide their customers through the process.”
According to a November 2017-issued report from the Freedonia Group, through 2021, digital printing will grow at the fastest rate of any label printing technique, signaling a great opportunity for distributors to explore creative concepts in earnest. Before doing so, though, they must realize and reiterate that simply wanting that involvement is not a decent enough motivator. “The drawbacks to converting custom labels are the massive financial investment for equipment and a lot of competition,” Larson stated.
“The drawback to resellers is that it is hard to break into a company that is happy with their custom labels and tags and their print reseller. You will have to look for a niche to get into the company, and then grow from within.”
Those involved in the print and promotional products sphere likely possess, one could say, the most advanced knowledge on the benefits of change and augmentation. Within the tags and labels realm, an appreciation for advances is not lost on people like Ulmer and Larson, whose companies have added equipment so as to make their distributors more competitive at a time when a plethora of design options can prove daunting—rather than encouraging—to some.
“Staying on top of stock and adhesive trends is important, but it can be tricky to determine what label solutions will work best based on the type of application, environment and artwork,” Ulmer noted. “Frankly, there are many factors to consider when determining the best label.”
Her company relies on sourcing experts to remain on top of new and unique industry stocks and finishes on the market, with digital printing set to remain a reliable force in the field. Long gone, according to Larson, are the days when people could just depend on two-dimensional pieces of what she dubbed “sticky” material. As she sees it, a custom label’s job is to portray product information and branding, as well as to stand out on shelves. This, she posited, can happen through a label or tag, a shrink sleeve or a flexible package.
“Instead of focusing on putting a label on the product’s container, focus on the bigger picture of the most convenient packaging for the consumer, then the most efficient packaging solution for the product’s life cycle,” Larson instructed. “... Whether your customer is in need of a label, shrink sleeve or flexible package, today’s digital equipment produces affordable short runs with high quality, allowing small businesses to compete with the same quality labels and packaging as larger companies.
“You can now offer short runs of shrink sleeve to craft beverage companies so that they can print smaller batches of craft flavors and special editions,” she elaborated. “You can also offer short runs of flexible packaging to new marijuana, pet and snack food companies.”
In line with Larson’s recommendations for possible business alliances, Ulmer explained that many vertical markets are experiencing growth, with craft beer and wine makers complementing the other areas.
“Targeting these growth markets and partnering with the best label provider is a win-win for both the distributor and their existing or future customers in these verticals,” Ulmer declared.
“The [best] suggestion we have on how to sell custom labels and tags is to get into new markets that are emerging,” Larson said. “Get in on the ground floor, and grow with the company. Any new company will need more than just prime labels. There are warehouse labels, shipping labels, nametags, asset labels, tamper-evident labels and so on. You might be able to help them with signage and other print products, too.”
Along with knowing which markets and materials are thriving, distributors should keep up with who is influencing the trends. For Larson, the answer is simple and the rewards for deconstructing it are colossal.
“Millennials are changing the labeling and packaging market,” she began. “They are looking for uniqueness and authenticity. Savvy print resellers are helping companies satisfy these consumers’ tastes for those with digital print capabilities, four-color process variable printing, personalization, hyper-personalization and specialty inks. [As a result], smaller runs of digitally printed labels, shrink sleeves and flexible packaging are cost effectively produced, providing companies with the amazing power of producing small batches of limited editions, unique brand flavors and marketing promotions to build their brand.”
In addition to being a huge advocate for personalization, Larson counts herself as a specialty ink buff and sees its numerous applications as yet another reason for distributors to enter the tags and labels domain.
“Invisible ink, which glows under black light, is being used for security and creative promotions,” she said. “Vibrant fluorescent pink ink stands out and catches the eye. Brands are using it on their labels and shrink sleeves to support causes, such as breast cancer awareness, or they use fluorescence simply to make their product pop and grab attention. With a little creativity, the ideas are endless for print resellers to help their customers build product and brand awareness, thus tapping into marketing budgets, fraud [and] security budgets and labeling and packaging budgets.”