Labels: a sticky tool to enhance brand appeal

13 February 2018

The humble label has long been used to create efficient and informative packaging. From illustrating essential data to complementing a brand’s design, this sticky tool is multifaceted, allowing companies to also encourage consumer loyalty, establish brand identity and highlight special offers. Emma-Jane Batey speaks to brand-owners and label creators to learn more about its potential.

Effective packaging is a holistic experience, with labels and labelling sitting neatly alongside the choice of material, size and design. They not only convey legal and product information easily, but can also show that a company endorses good practice. Special offers, customisation and branding – labels are loved by marketing teams and product developers alike.

For the love of labels

For Berkshire Labels, the love for labels is justified and shows no sign of abating. This proactive and progressive company has one of the most comprehensive digital HP Indigo operations in the country, which manages to combine the best of digital with conventional UV flexo presses. “We’re a family business that’s been around for nearly 40 years. We pride ourselves on customer service, and we’re just the right size to be able to be flexible and bespoke, while still delivering whatever size runs our customers need,” says Simon Millin, the company’s business development manager. “The company specialises in short to medium-run work with an extensive choice of embellishment. We’ve got excellent digital and flexo capabilities so we can cover all label requirements, from samples right up to runs of more than a million labels,” he adds.

The majority of Berkshire Labels’ large-scale runs are achieved with its high-quality HP Indigo machine, which Millin says is a big advantage. The company has also added shrink sleeves to its roster, and extensive opportunities are already presenting themselves, particularly in the beverage sector.

“We’re always working hard to drive the company forward and are fast becoming one of the largest privately owned label companies in the UK. As well as our purpose-built manufacturing site, we’ve got a full in-house pre-press department that gives us complete control over colour management. We have an in-house design studio too, so everything is here on one site. We can do foiling, embossing and silk screen – basically, anything you could want a label to do, we can do.”

This positive attitude led Berkshire Labels to contact Childs Farm, as Millin was sure that the company could deliver the volume and exacting standards that founder Joanna Jenson demands. “I approached Childs Farm about five years ago with a really strong digital solution,” explains Millin. “I felt that we could provide the exact solution, as its beautiful labels are always being tweaked; there’s lots of different types, different sizes, different products and our digital labels are perfect.

“Joanna made it clear that she was very specific about colour and quality, and was a little dubious at first, but I showed her our digital samples and convinced her. Now, we do some digital and flexo for Childs Farm, as many of their products are sold in the millions and they’re always updating. I’m inspired by her astute, appealing vision for her products,” he adds.

Labelling is part of the fun

Jenson’s Hampshire-based success story continues to flourish. As the UK’s fastest-growing brand in the baby and child toiletries category during the past three years, and the sector’s second-largest brand in the country, Childs Farm is rapidly gaining fans that are as passionate as its owner.

Packaging is integral to Childs Farm’s brand, with its delightful labels portraying thoroughly British scenes of farm animals, circuses and children playing. The company uses many naturally derived ingredients and essential oils, and is one of the very few baby and child ranges to undergo clinical tests and controlled user trials, but, as Jenson explains, “unlike other products for sensitive skin, our toiletries look such fun in the bathroom.

“Getting children to wash can be a battle, and packaging is often dull, boring and medicinal looking, even if it is for sensitive or eczema-prone skin. Being a challenger brand, we can be as disruptive as we want in our designs, and we want children to want to use our products, without pointing to the fact that they may have poorly skin. Our labels have images that feature children, animals and fun, presenting something that is real [and] that children can be a part of. They can be that little girl on the bottle and the pony could be theirs – and to have a bath with it couldn’t be more exciting. We strive to ignite little ones’ imaginations, so taking a bath is a lot more adventurous if you have the makings of a story on the bottle,” she adds.

As Berkshire Labels manufactures the brand’s labels, Jenson is keenly aware that it has a practical and magical role in packaging. “By having different coloured lids and labels, it also means that if parents have their hands full at bath time, they can see which bottle they need very easily. We include all the information required by EU cosmetic regulations, but we also add some fun into our descriptions, such as a dollop of this and a swoosh of that, to remind everyone that we are British to the core.”

Information is everything

With its 30-year history, Readability manages to provide a solid and flexible service to clients. The printed label specialist has a fresh approach to labels, which means that it often works with clients that have challenging demands that have not been met elsewhere. “We specialise in smaller runs, so digital solutions are usually exactly what’s needed,” says James Nicholl, digital marketing manager.

“We’re really noticing the trend for lots of smaller start-ups, with companies making something really interesting and needing smaller runs for eye-catching labels. Customers like this know what they want, especially when it comes to their packaging and their labels, because they’ve been working directly with their brand. We love working with them to create a label that’s even better than what they imagined,” he concludes.

Readability was founded in 1992 to address the growing need for supermarket suppliers to include barcodes on their packaging for the first time, and has long been associated with driving the label market forward. It has grown consistently to become a leading supplier to diverse industries, including food, chemicals and brewing, and the company is now increasingly manufacturing labels for cosmetics and e-liquids.

“These are two fast-growing markets. We’re finding that many customers are coming to us because they’ve been promised the Earth, but the labels they actually get pay no attention to detail and are not at all what they wanted. We totally understand our industry and products and, of course, our extensive capabilities. So, by understanding the environment of the label and how it will be used, we know our labels will perform,” Nicholl says.

He also notes that there is a big trend in peel-and-read labels that consist of at least two layers. “We specialise in peel-and-read layers, which form multilayer labels that can be really intricate. The extra info can be whatever the customer wants, from special offers to nutritional information. This is happening more and is a great way to give extra to the customer within the same space.”

Environmental responsibility

One of Readability’s customers is cosmetics retailer Lush. Since it was founded in 1995 in Poole, Dorset, the company has gone on to make millions. On its website, the company makes it apparent that it takes packaging responsibility seriously, saying, “We use as little packaging in the shops as possible and give you the choice to go completely naked – we mean the products, not yourselves. About half of our products can be taken home with no packaging… When packaging is unavoidable, we prefer to use recycled materials.”

A spokesperson for the company says, “At Lush, we pride ourselves on our creativity, and this doesn’t stop with our products. Since the beginning, our aim has been to use the best, safest and most beautiful ingredients. This often involves a great deal of creative thinking and finding solutions to problems, such as sourcing the best natural raw ingredients, 100% recycled packaging or removing palm oil from our products.”

The Lush portfolio of products includes beautiful colours and textures, so its distinctive black and white, handwritten labels are a smart and eco-friendly choice for branding. With just a flash of bright green for the Lush logo, the easy-to-read, eye-catching labels are certainly part of the brand image.

“Customers are challenging manufacturers and retailers to cut the wrap,” exaplains Lush founder Mark Constantine. “Companies like ours need to think out of the box and present customers with innovations that allow them to buy truly ‘naked’ packaging. Many of our products have little or no packaging. We believe that the best way to tackle recycling is to not create waste in the first place.”

As labels are one of the most practical and cost-efficient ways to ensure that brands can grow, it makes perfect sense that labels are going to stick around.

Labels with added appeal
Childs Farm’s playful labels bring fun to the everyday task of washing.
Labels with added appeal
Childs Farm’s playful labels bring fun to the everyday task of washing.
Labels with added appeal
Childs Farm’s playful labels bring fun to the everyday task of washing.

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