Labelling has always played a large role in the branding of a certain product. Many products have not changed their labels in decades, because the design of the current one is so recognizable it would be ludicrous to change things up. Even with some of them staying the same for a long time, the label industry has been one of the rare industries that are constantly rising in popularity and improving in quality.
Many different technological advancements have happened over the years and many of them have changed the industry for good – mostly for the better. This steady growth and the technological advancements and innovations are a necessity in an industry like this – an industry that’s following and staying up to date with the latest trends in design, branding and marketing. Not only that, new products and new markets are emerging every single day, so on top of all that, the demand for a custom label is arguably at an all-time high.
So, in what ways has the labelling industry changed over the years? What are the technological innovations that have made all the advancements possible and are there any new ones on the horizon that are going to transform the market once again? Well, let’s find out.
1. Printing Updates
Back in the day, the labelling industry was using almost exclusively conventional letterpress or flexographic printing. Nowadays – not so much. Although letterpress printing is still being used, we have other methods like offset, gravure, toner-based and inkjet digital printing being used as well. More often than not, all of these method and printing processes end up being brought together all at once into a hybrid press line, which allows for many different printing options and variations.
Inkjet digital printing has been increasing in popularity over the last 10 years, either on its own or in some form of a hybrid option. This made it possible for all kinds of different variations when it comes to custom labels – including raised image areas.
On top of all that, advancements in label design have also been made in recent years.
2. Changes In Label Design
Over the years, the trends have changed. From the way labels feel and print, all the way to how they’re designed and how they look. The days of monochromatic, white labels with black lettering are pretty much over, even with all the minimalist trends that are all the rage right now. Also, nowadays, people don’t really have the need for a professional designer – they can make their own custom labels. Not only that, you can easily create stickers or badges with your branding on them. With help of simple designing software with hundreds of pre-applied templates, shapes, elements you can design your own custom label or sticker in a matter of minutes. The best thing about it, according to customsticker.com, you don’t even have to know how to draw or design. You can just sit in front of your computer, click around a few times and create cheap custom stickers you can order online.
3. Lightweight Labels
Regardless of the product’s packaging, the main goal for quite some time now has been to decrease the weight of it. Less weight means easier transport, more volume, less waste and so on. You may wonder how does a sticker or a label play any role in this, considering that it is almost weightless compared to the product or the packaging. However, it does play some role – a rather minor one, but still noticeable.
For that reason, label manufacturers have started using new, thinner printing materials while also creating smaller stickers and labels. This wouldn’t have been possible without some advancements and innovations regarding the printing material. Nowadays, the printing materials are as strong and as fitting to be printed on, as the ones before them were – while still being thinner and lighter.
Another major advantage of thinner printing materials is the fact that there’s more of it in a single roll. That means more stickers from a single roll, faster manufacturing and of course, a lot less waste. It is estimated that with only a 10% decrease in thickness we could save over a hundred million tonnes of plastic each year.
We are all aware of how important recycling is, especially in the situation our planet is in right now. Being able to easily recycle the packaging as well as the sticker on it is paramount in this day and age. That means that the sticker material plays a larger role than many have previously thought. For instance, fully recyclable plastic or aluminium packaging can become useless and non-recyclable if the label is non-recyclable. Many recycling plants use nearly boiling water to try and peel off the stickers from the packages so they can move on with the recycling. For that reason, it’s really important to use fully recyclable materials and avoid non-recyclable adhesives and fortunately, many do.
5. Automation In Printing
As we’ve already said, the demand has never been greater. Everybody and their grandma want a custom sticker and that means that the process of making and printing the labels has to speed up exponentially. How do you do that? Automation.
To ultimate goal is to create a self-sustaining printing system that runs 24 hours a day. A system that can receive orders, track the development and the printing process and put out a finalized product without any problems whatsoever. We’re still not there, but we’re getting there slowly but surely.
6. Better Label, Better Quality Product
Finally, the printers themselves as we’ve already mentioned have become much better at what they do. Nowadays, you don’t have to change anything but the quality of the sticker to make the product premium. It’s a tricky many do and it’s a quite successful one, which only comes to show how important branding, packaging and labelling actually is. You can always identify the premium product by looking at the package. Vibrant colours, finer texture, finer materials – combine those three and you have yourself a premium label for a premium product.
As you can clearly tell, there is more to a label than it meets the eye. The industry is getting better and better by the day and we can safely assume that the improvements aren’t going to stop any time soon.