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10 Characteristics of a Well-Designed Product Label

10 Characteristics of a Well-Designed Product Label

With eCommerce and brick-and-mortar store shelves lined with an overabundance of choices, a well-designed product label is your first and possibly best chance to stand out from competing brands. Producing a quality product is just the beginning of building a successful business. You also need to convince shoppers to buy it. And that’s where product label design comes in. Let’s explore the fundamentals of designing effective labels that can help differentiate your products from the rest. 

Why Product Label Design Matters

The Food Industry Association estimates that the average grocery store stocks 33,055 items. Amazon, the heavyweight in online retail and grocery, sells over 12 million products on its website. These stats illustrate how many options consumers truly have. For a product to sell, it must stand out on the shelf or the page. Strong package design with a compelling label will help attract attention and persuade customers to purchase. 

Elements of a Well-Designed Label

No matter the nature of your product, effective labels share a few things in common. Here are 11 characteristics of good labels. 

1. A Color Palette That Reflects the Brand

Color selection is one of the most critical elements to get right when it comes to label design. Start by aligning your color palette with the brand and personality of your product. For example, if your product is craft beer with a zany vibe,  bright, vibrant tones may be a  perfect fit. On the other hand, if you’re selling a high-end, organic merlot, a color palette that’s softer and more subdued is in order. 

Once you’ve nailed the mood, check to make sure that the colors you’ve chosen go well together. Certain colors or hues make sense together, while others create dissonance. If like most people, you don’t have an art degree or an inborn knack for color matching, Canva’s Color Wheel tool can help you pick out a perfect color scheme. As you’re making color choices, remember that your colors need to mesh with your product packaging. If your products are packaged in clear bottles or containers, for example, make sure your colors don’t clash with those of your product since it will be visible. 

Learn more: How to Effectively Use Color in Your Label Design

2. An Appropriate Size and Shape

Spice jar label with custom shape

Choosing the best size and shape for your product label is nearly as important as selecting your colors. A good fit will largely depend on the type of product packaging you’re using. If your product is in a round container, you’ll need to decide between a full wrap or front and back labels. There are pros and cons to each, but a front and back label offers a great way to visually separate the branding and marketing messaging from the less exciting, nuts-and-bolts consumer information that will need a home on the back label. 

Choosing a custom label shape offers another opportunity to differentiate your product from competitors. Consider label shapes that mirror what’s inside the package. For example, if you’re selling artisan cookies, a product label shaped like a cookie will stand out on the shelf.

Use this guide to figure out what size of label you’ll need on your product.

3. A Finish That Boosts the Appearance

Product labels are generally finished with a protective layer of laminate that offers a glossy or matte appearance. Which finish is best largely depends on your packaging. As a general rule, a matte finish provides a more subdued, refined appearance, while a gloss finish is an excellent choice for making bright colors stand out.

4. A Material That Stands Up to the Product’s Environment

Waterproof Labels

Product labels are available in a range of materials. The nature of your product and the environments it will experience will dictate the best options. Paper labels such as Kraft are ideal for applications where the product is unlikely to encounter moisture. For beverages or condiments, BOPP or polyester-based materials offer superior water-resistance and durability. 

Learn more about label materials and finishes.

5. Graphics That Do the Work

Custom graphics can elevate a label design to standout heights. Everyone can point to an experience of picking up a product just because the packaging caught their attention. It may be tempting to save money on pre-designed labels, but investing in custom graphics is money well spent. Here are 10 great places to get your label designs online.

6. High-Quality Images

Similar to the effect of custom graphics, high-quality images communicate your product’s quality and help it stand out. Choose professional photos, and, when selecting a product label manufacturer, make sure they’re running their labels on high-quality printers that can do justice to your graphics and images.

7. Prominently-Displayed Benefits

The front of your product label is prime real estate, the beach-front property of your product packaging. Use it strategically to list two or three key product benefits that most appeal to consumers. 

8. A Compelling Story

Everyone loves a story. If your company has a unique history, if your product has a compelling origin story, or if you have a compelling story about your raw material sourcing, consider including a brief snippet on your product label. Consumers connect with brands that tell a compelling story.

9. Clear Contact Details

Don’t forget to include pointers for where consumers can connect with you. Contact details should consist of the traditional physical address and phone number as well as where customers can find you on the web and social media.

10. Consistency

Estate 4 Label - Cocoon Apothecary

If your product is one of a series in a product line, make sure the design has recognizable consistency with your other offerings. It doesn’t have to be identical, but there needs to be enough similarity between them that consumers make the connection that they’re all part of the same brand.

Label Design Impacts Sales

The difference between a product that sells and one that doesn’t often comes down to marketing, including packaging. Products with labels that follow proven design principles and sport a twist of creativity are much more likely to end up in a customer’s physical or digital shopping cart than those that don’t.


If you have any questions about label selection or printing, don’t hesitate to contact the Experience Team by phone or Live Chat! Our team is ready to serve your business with care and excellence.

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