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Ideas for Creating Product Labels That Get Noticed


It is difficult for your product labels to stand out on the retail shelf these days. There is so much competition in every product category, how can you create a label that will be noticed? You need high quality design as well as excellent print quality, that much is a given. But if you really want to create some buzz around your product, you should try and do something unique. This article provides several breakthrough product label ideas that will really help you stand out from the crowd.

1. Tell a Story

If you buy a bottle of vitaminwater® you will notice that featured on their labels is a fun little story related to their product. They are in the ultra-competitive beverage industry and even though the name suggests a health drink they have decided to create a fun image for themselves with these clever stories on their label.

Here is an example of what they do. This is from their multi-v lemonade label:

remember "the jetsons"? all they had to do was push a button to get dressed, microwave a pill to eat a three course meal and throw astro out on that treadmill thingy to walk him. talk about the good life.

well, we created this all-in-one product, containing more of the nutrients you need, from vitamin a to zinc. think of it as a drinkable swiss army knife. ok, so we didn’t invent the flying car or legless robot maids, but come on… like that’s even gonna happen.

Notice the liberal use of slang, the all lowercase text and the conversational tone. People actually enjoy reading these labels. While vitaminwater® is a great example of using a fun story to develop a brand, they have missed an opportunity to really build on this. The problem is that when you have read the story once you would probably never glance at it again. It does give the brand a fun feel but it could be much more. Why not have several different stories for each flavor, so that each time someone purchased a bottle they could read something new. People might be motivated to buy more than one bottle at a time, to collect the different stories.

There are so many freelance writers out there that would jump at the chance to work on a project like this. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars – you could even hire a student. Have dozens of these short stories or anecdotes and you will be creating something that is truly different. You just need to allocate a small space on your label and then when we print your labels we would print a different story on each label.

2. Adapt the Fortune Cookie Idea

If creating these short stories seems like too much then you can still create an impact with short sayings. When we go out for Chinese food, at the end of the meal we get the bill and some fortune cookies. We all love to crack open the cookie and read the little saying inside. Most often the sayings are all different and we can get a good laugh out of them. This idea can be adapted on your product label.

You could have a different saying on every one of your products on the shelf. You could spend an afternoon brainstorming with a couple of people and come up with dozens of these sayings. Alternatively, you could use quotable quotes from famous people. There are plenty of places online that list these and you could incorporate them into your product label. To be most effective you should have at least 100 – this way you would be unlikely to get two products with the same quote on the shelf together.

People will look forward to buying your product to see what pearls of wisdom will be on the label today. Whether you decide to go with the fortune cookie idea or the famous quotes, this is an easy way to be different without impacting your current label design. You only need a small amount of room on your label, and you can create some real curiosity about your products.

3. A Product Label “Photo Album”

Many product labels feature some kind of photo. But why have the same photo on every one of your labels? You could take advantage of the wealth of online stock photo libraries and have a different photo on each label.

Say you make sunscreen and you have a photo of a sunny beach on your label. This is what you can do. Go to an online stock photography site like and search for the kind of photo you want. In January, 2008 a search for “sunny beach” returned over 14,000 photos. You could download several hi-res photos for just a few dollars each, and your product labels could feature several attractive photos rather than the same one. The fact that no one else is doing this will add to the impact of the different photos on your labels.

You don’t need to buy photos – you could make your product label more personal by featuring photos of your business. For the sunscreen company you could show pictures of employees frolicking on the beach, different beaches in your area, or famous beaches of the world. Give each photo a caption and you have a new product label concept that will be uniquely yours.

There is one company that is using different photos successfully on their product - Jones Soda. Every bottle of Jones Soda has a different photo on it. They have their customers send in photos, a great way to cut down expense and get your customers more involved in your product.

4. Run a Competition

You could use a part of your label to run a competition with your customers. Here is an example of what you could do. Provide simple instructions and print a random 10 digit code on every label. Instruct your customer go to your web site to enter in this code to see if they win. There would be a different 10 digit code on every label. On the home page of your site you could have an area where your customer can enter this 10 digit code.

The best part about doing something like this is that you can start to gather some marketing information. You could try and capture an email address and other personal information once they have entered the code. There is a double benefit here. First, you have a committed customer exploring your web site and second you can have this customer enter information that will allow you to market to them in the future. You will have easily created a marketing database.

5. Numbered Labels

Polin&Polin is a small winery in the Hunter Valley wine growing region in Australia. Every bottle of wine sold by Polin&Polin has a unique number on it. They like to emphasize that they are a small, family owned winery and this helps them achieve that goal. Now, this would work for many products other than wine. If you want to emphasize the fact that your product is handcrafted, not mass produced, you could do the same thing. Just add a little note: “Bottle X of 1500” (we can do the consecutive numbering here) to your product label.

Promote Your New Product Labels

If you go to the trouble of creating a breakthrough product label you need to tell the world what you are doing. So few companies are creating individualized labels, you may well be the first company in your industry to take this approach with your labeling. So this is a great opportunity to try and get some publicity for your products.

In ten years time there could be many products on the shelf leveraging the power of digital label printing by making every product label different. This new trend has not even begun yet, so if you start now you will probably be breaking new ground in your industry. You can make individualized labels a key part of your brand. In today’s competitive marketplace it is so difficult to be different – with digital label printing you can create a product label that is truly unique.

Who was it that decided that every label for a particular product should be exactly the same? With the power of digital label printing we no longer have to live by that rule. There is a huge opportunity here for enterprising companies to create something completely new in the world of product labels.