The Rules Of Successful Food Label Design

Your food product might be the most delicious thing that ever graced the palates of the human race. Ever. But nobody is going to know this if they don’t take it off the shelf in the grocery store. Great packaging, and more importantly, fantastic labelling, is key to making that customer reach out and take your product off the shelf – as opposed to one manufactured by your many competitors.

Yes, it is a cut throat world out there in the supermarket wars. The fight for consumer’s attention is being fought every day, and the victors are those who project a clear brand message using smart labelling. Read on for the rules to follow when designing food labels…

Clever with Colour

Don’t just choose a colour because it’s always been your favourite. You need to seize the attention of shoppers as they walk the aisles, their eyes will be scanning quickly over hundreds of products – so you really need to stand out. Think about the contents of your packaging. Is it transparent? If so, you need to choose a label that compliments rather than clashes with the colour of the contents. Maybe the packaging is coloured, if so, choose label colours that contrast in a pleasing way.

Colours have subconscious associations for consumers. Red for strawberry flavour, yellow for banana, purple for grape etc – these are conventions that consumers take for granted. Hot chilli sauce in blue or white packaging could send confusing messages. Likewise, cool mints or iced drinks in hot colours may look odd. That said, sometimes subverting the rules achieves positive results. The key is to research and experiment with colour combinations, ask opinions of friends and family and even talk to customers in the supermarket (if they are willing to share their feedback.)

Consider an Image

Graphics or images say more than words in less time. This is crucial in the context of supermarket shoppers, as your product only has their attention for a nano-second. Products such as honey or pancake mix are instantly recognisable for what they are if the labels display graphics of a bee hive and honeycomb and a pancake being flipped in a pan. Using visual shorthand on labels can be effective in getting your product singled out first for attention. Having a photo or graphic on a label doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Stock photography can be sourced from a number of companies at reasonable cost.

Clear is Crucial

A label needs to convey information about a product clearly and quickly. Choose fonts very carefully. A font may match your branding concept for your product, but if it is difficult to read, it will fail the good label test. Try not to choose common fonts that we all see and use everyday, dig a little deeper to find something unique. Font libraries online offer examples of thousands of unique fonts – often free to use, check them out for fresh ideas and font inspiration. Printing specialists such as Days Labels can offer valuable advice and lay out tips for those designing product labels.

The Label Material

Choose from clear, transparent labels to maximise view of coloured packaging or product. Most popular are plain white labels as they lend themselves to flexibility within the design process. For an aged or rustic look, textured cream paper works well. You will need to decide upon a matte or gloss finish for your labels. Matte designs are frequently used to convey a suggestion of quiet elegance and restraint and can suit products that want to reflect a certain tradition and quality. Glossy labels often have sharper colours and can look more edgy and contemporary. If the choice between the two isn’t obvious, it’s a good idea to print up versions of both labels and monitor results. Make sure the label is big enough to read easily and is the correct scale to fit the product’s size. Don’t swamp a tiny packet with a huge label and vice versa. If you are in any doubt about any aspect of the label design and function ask the experts at Days Labels.

The Written Words

What do you need to write on the label? The product’s name needs to be prominently displayed. If you have a slogan or two-line story about the product, this can appear, too. On the reverse of the packaging the nutritional information and any legal requirements can be added. Add contact information for your company to maximise valuable marketing opportunities. A website address and/or social media presence should be indicated so customers can discover more about the product range.

Getting your product exactly right has taken you time and effort.  Don’t fall at the last hurdle by getting the label wrong, it could mean the difference between a product flying off the shelves or being totally overlooked…