Don't Underestimate the Capabilities of Digital Label Printing


Digital printing capabilities for paper labels have become so advanced over the years. We're always in awe every time we visit our print vendors to see the latest samples and remind ourselves of the breadth of possibilities there are in creating product labels with great visual impact. It's always such a fun creative field trip for us. Not only is there a fantastic display of great design in the artwork provided to these printers for production, but the unique added touches of hot stamps, varnishes and other treatments really make final product pop. 

Digital printing is a great option especially for shorter print runs due to the fact it requires no printing plates and minimal set up time. Other benefits like shorter lead times, consistent color matching and the ability to print variable data make this printing process a desirable choice. Then, add options for UV coatings, spot varnishes, embossing/debossing and hot stamps and you have a plethora of options to give exclusivity to your labels. 

Recently, we've been working with designs that print on a silver polypropylene digital adhesive material. What's great about this is that you can achieve a metallic or shiny look in colors produced in simple four color process printing. So imagine laying down a flat gold color in the artwork. On normal white label material, this would just print a gold color. But when printed on the silver polypropylene, it appears metallic or similar to a gold foil. And this look isn't just reserved for silver or gold colors. Place a blue or green down on top of this stock and the material also shines metallic. It's a really great option to give a label a little more pizazz without adding on extra costs of higher end treatments like the embossing and hot stamping. We look forward to sharing with you a current project we're working on which is designed and produced in this manner.

Getting Creative about Creative: Adapting to Budget Needs

Part of producing great creative involves adaptation. We have to adapt to client's needs and budget limitations. We have to adjust designs for printing processes selected or account for production and application concerns in labeling — just to name a few. There are always multiple ways to achieve an end result. It's just up to us, the creative professionals, to figure out which solution or execution best suits the client's needs at that time.

What I've found is that there are many times we must get creative about how to deliver creative work. This inevitably occurs in a situation where there are budget constraints. In 2011, my client, La Ishá Natural Skincare, first came to me looking for a facelift in her website. She wanted her skin care products and site to look less "home-made" in order to more closely compete with the types of brands in a higher end skin care category. After researching the competitive space, I concluded that we had to move the product imagery to a more light, clean and airy feel since these high-end glossy images were really what made these sites pop. She had the budget for the site redesign, but not for a full photo-shoot for her product line — especially since part of the long-term plan was to redesign all of the product labels. A professional photo-shoot just didn't seem to be a feasible solution.

So, instead, I decided to stage the types of images I'd like to see on her site and took these with my SLR camera. So, armed with my very basic SLR and a makeshift light booth, I began to set up the props and products I needed.

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Now, I should preface this with the fact I am in no way a professional photographer, nor claim to be! I'd always recommend a professional photographer's services be the preferred choice. But in the instances where we need to adapt, there very well may be other solutions possible, even if they are only temporary.

The photograph from my photo booth ended up looking like this:


We then placed the brand's existing product shots into the image files with Photoshop. The background photo was faded back so it looked a little ghosted, allowing the actual La Ishá product to be the highlight of the page. 

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Within a couple years after this, the rebranding of La Ishá's full product line began. Once the new packaging was produced, the client was at a point where it made financial sense to hire a photographer and reshoot all the products and implement them in the company's most current site.