Labelling makes it's mark

20 February 2017

Labelling makes it's mark

Labelling makes it's mark

Speed, cost and engagement are three of the core brand-building concerns. The right label can tick all these boxes. Emma-Jane Batey spoke to brand owners and label makers to see why we're sticking to labels.

Rather like Instagram, goji berries and beards, labels have enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, albeit for rather different reasons. A well-designed, well-informed and well-printed label can add value to a product for a very low outlay, so it makes perfect sense that brands big and small are keeping packaging as standardised as possible and adding flair with labels.


For Beauty Kitchen, a fast-growing natural skincare and well-being range that is available directly and at Holland & Barrett stores nationwide, labels have allowed the company to expand quickly while maintaining its sustainability goals. Marketing manager Kirsten Ferguson tells Converting Today: “At Beauty Kitchen we make 100% natural, effective and affordable products with a sprinkling of fun and big dollop of transparency. Our recipes only contain 100% pure essential oils plus naturally derived ingredients that will never cost the earth. For our packaging, we source local suppliers and use recycled or pre-cycled materials. Labels give us great flexibility without needing to change our packaging; we use beautifully printed labels across our lovely products, from the blue glass bottles of our essential oils to the hugely successful little glass pots of Handbag Beauty Balm.”


Fun flexibility

With Beauty Kitchen dedicated to “100% making a difference in everything we do, from the ingredients we use in our products to where our packaging is sourced”, the speed and flexibility of labels is a terrific speed-to-market friend. Belfast-based self-adhesive label manufacturer KER Graphics totally understands how the right label can make all the difference when it comes to allowing brands of any size to present their products on the shelf. Experts in printing and manufacturing labels since 1989, KER is the UK and Ireland's market leader and works with customers to distribute products worldwide. Managing director Russell Robinson is passionate about investing in the latest equipment so that his customers can benefit, with the results being good news all round.


Robinson says, “We can design and print labels that are so beautiful, so detailed...the accuracy is fantastic. Whatever kind of label someone can think of, we can generally make it, from matte, varnished or laminated papers, to complex and ornate full-colour images. Labels are very important to us and that is why we've recently invested in new digital equipment that will boost our offer even more; we've enhanced and brought forward our capabilities for short-run digital work on various different types of paper so that we can continue to offer a huge range.”


Robinson is clear that labels are the smart choice when it comes to maximising the visibility of a product, whether that's a new launch for an established brand, a start-up or a special offer. He continues, “There's a lot we can do with labels to make sure products stand out on the shelf without the associated high costs of plates. We can do short runs of anything up to 5,000, including 10 varieties within that – and digital is getting better quality than flexo now, really. Generally, we are all digital now as we're finding that flexo printing standards can vary. [Digital offers] higher quality in smaller quantities, no cost of originating printing plates, any finish, any shape, use of clear film, different materials, and it's far more economical. That suits pretty much everyone doesn't it?”


Digital delivers

Having identified this fast-growing trend for brands at all stages to value using labels, KER Graphics intends to keep growing its offer in this direction. Robinson adds, “Digital is definitely the way the world is going; for labels, it's quick, easy and excellent quality. The feedback we've really noticed is how much customers value the fact that digitally printed labels mean you can't differentiate how established or professional a brand is just because they don't have the huge resources at the start to invest in massive print runs. Good products can look professional from the word ‘go’; it's not just a one-colour job to start. We can help with the artwork of course, and we love to, but we also love to work with the fresh new brands that are doing something interesting and high-quality and have their own very clear ideas about what they want. So when we deliver exactly what they hoped for, they're delighted.”


For the only UK-based pawpaw balm Dr PawPaw, labelling has brought its own challenges. This best-selling, multipurpose, fragrance-free balm is often cited as a handbag essential, but for co-founder Pauline Patterson, finding efficient, effective labelling that meets its strict requirements has not been easy. Patterson explains to Converting Today: “Our packaging is a hugely important part of our brand – it has to look right, perform well and be responsible. When we were looking at potentially using labels for our 25ml plastic tubes and for our new haircare range, we found that it was so hard to find the right partner. It's hard to get the labels lined up, nobody wants to stick them's a whole range of processes that seemed astronomical in price and a load of trouble. So we went with screen printing instead. In our early days we just couldn't justify spending that, even though we wanted the softer finish that labels deliver.”


With ever more innovative solutions available, the world of labels is already being shaken up by the introduction of laser labelling. One company that is leading the way is JBT Corporation, a US-based food-processing machinery company that has recently gained industry coverage for its ground-breaking Laser Mark labelling system for fresh fruits and vegetables. Already adopted by a Swedish supermarket chain, this technology allows the goods – typically bananas, avocados and sweet potatoes so far, with plans to introduce suitability for other produce soon – to be labelled directly onto the skin using laser marking.


Business development manager for JBT Corporation John Siddle explains, “We are showcasing our labelling and fruit-processing systems across the various Europe trade shows in the spring. We're focused on our fresh-produce technologies including our G3 labelling, which we intend to have CE-certified this year. We're a growing business, we've been growing our market share for the last couple of years outside of the US, with the Laser Mark an important part of our future plans.”


Siddle continues, “Originally developed in Spain and commercialised in 2013, laser labelling uses EU-approved compounds that do not damage the fruit surface or interior. With a focus on sustainability, our Laser Mark system is a part recipient of the EU's Eco Innovation Programme grant. What sets the Laser Mark system apart from traditional labelling is the customisable, on-the-spot graphic capabilities. It allows for easy upload and storage of vector graphics and can be integrated into existing pack-lines or used off-line. The unalterable laser mark protects brand identity and differentiates produce from the competition. It's a really exciting development in labelling.”

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