Today's retail environment is highly competitive – potentially more so than ever before. Store shelves are stocked with similar products by large and small brands alike, and e-commerce has opened up shopping opportunities for people around the world. Releasing a product into such a climate can be hugely challenging, and companies will have to find ways to make their items stand out against a functionally infinite field of competitors.
For small brands, this quest to be noticed is especially tricky, as they lack the marketing might to get name recognition through traditional advertising channels. Packaging and labeling are high-priority promotional elements for any company, but these independent producers will find them absolutely indispensable as branding tools.
Eye-catching and immediate
Quantifying the challenge of getting customer attention, Forbes contributor Steve Olenski pointed out that in a Walmart Super Center store, people have their choice of over 142,000 different pieces of merchandise. Label design created with this environment in mind should be provide immediate appeal and clarity. When consumers have so many places to look, they may not linger long on a package that is unclear about what it contains, or which brand made it.
Shoppers value honest representation from the companies they deal with. According to Olenski, this means that packages shouldn't take liberties with the imagery on their labels. Pictures on labels that lie to buyers and look very different from the actual appearance of the items can cause friction between buyer and manufacturer, encouraging those consumers to seek alternative brands the next time they are in the market for a similar product.
In line with local regulations
Of course, packaging designers aren't free to do anything they want in pursuit of an ideal look. The graphic look of products is overseen by various regulatory bodies, with each region having its own unique specifications. Telegraph Small Business Connect contributor Hajra Rahim offered an important reminder that failure to study the letter of the law can lead to problems with labels late in the design process. When designing food and beverage labels or other monitored packaging, everything from font sizes to barcode format could be strictly enforced, and getting it right isn't optional.
Taking the process inside
When companies print their own labels in-house, they can implement changes quickly and take control of this important element of their branding. Such a move wouldn't be worth pursuing if brands were unable to make good-looking labels that consumers will react to. Fortunately, today's high-quality label printers can deliver the resolution to display any message in a compelling way.