Custom food label design
Earlier this year we were hired to redesign the apple cider label for Samascott Orchards in Kinderhook, NY. While the label they were using had a certain nostalgic charm, it was beginning to look dated and did not incorporate their new logo or color scheme. In addition, new rules now require that labels include nutritional information, and their old label did not comply.
We started the project by having a face-to-face conversation about the company, its history and future. We learned that the entire process from growing, to picking, to processing and bottling was handled in-house. Also, this apple cider is sold in their own store as well as to other food markets.
Whether your job is to hire a designer, to work with the label company for the design, or to design it yourself, there are several things to consider. We’ve outlined some of the most important below.
Define the parameters
Before beginning a new food label design, determine what size label is needed. For this project there were four container sizes, and each needed an identifying label on the front and a nutritional label on the back. We would create the initial design using the largest size label. Once we had an approved design, we would reformat the design to fit the smaller labels.
The client requested that we use only two colors – the red and the green defined by the logo guidelines. Finally, we reviewed the FDA Nutritional and Information Labeling guide which specified labeling requirements.
Understand how the product will be displayed
The apple cider that we were designing the label for is sold in an upright reach-in refrigerated display case. There are no other apple ciders competing with it for shelf space or attention, so if the customer wants to buy cider, this brand is their only option. Therefore, the most important design element is readability.
Imagine customers approaching the row of coolers. As they scan the products in the case, we want them to be able to identify our product with ease. It is important not to forget the impulse purchaser, too. Some customers will be looking around just to see what catches their eye. If the product looks appealing, they may also buy it.
Use concise and specific wording
Food label design is analogous to billboard design. A billboard designer has to consider that the average driver will have just 5-10 seconds to view the design, read the text, and comprehend the message. Therefore, the message has to be short and sweet. Just like a driver, the average shopper is on the move when they read product packaging. They certainly aren’t going to read every word on every package. In fact, they may not read at all. Most shoppers are scanning to see what catches their eye.
For this reason it is important to decide which words and concepts are the most important. What information is the customer looking for?
Develop an eye-catching color scheme
For this project the colors were defined for us, and we were lucky that the colors were bold. By using a reverse (light lettering on a dark background) we were essentially able to add a third color – white. However, be careful to use this technique sparingly. When not done right, reverse type can be difficult to read. (Read more about that.)
Use easy to read type
The importance of choosing the right font cannot be overstated. Not only does the font convey information, it also conveys feeling and mood. Still, the single most important characteristic of the font chosen for use on a label has to be readability. If the font can’t be read, how will the consumer know what they’re looking at?
It is temping to use highly decorative type on your product label, and in some cases it works. The food label must be distinctive and it must stand out, but at what cost? For us readability was the primary concern. We chose Helvetica, one of the most popular typefaces in the world.
Food label design summary
Done right, a redesign can bring new attention to an old product. If you are creating a new product and need help with label design, give us a call (518) 392-0846. And if you have a product that can do with a new label design, we can do that too. Contact us today by emailing [email protected].