Five Things to Ask When Ordering Custom Labels

Need custom labels? Don't know where to start? Ask yourself these questions to get the project rolling!

custom label order process

Where are my labels going to be stuck?

Environment plays a big role in pretty much everything and labels are no exception. Will your labels be used indoors? Outdoors? Both? Will there be moisture, condensation, grease or dust? Will they be subject to temperature changes, abrasion, friction or intense sunlight? Determining the possible scenarios your labels may find themselves in will help you to determine whether you need a paper or a poly substrate, lamination or varnish or something even more durable, like screen printed or domed decals.

What kind of artwork do I need for this project?

A phrase you might hear from a custom printer is: the quality of the end printed result is in direct proportion to the quality of the supplied art file. We always want the best possible output for our clients therefore we strongly recommend providing your art in a vector format, such as an AI file or EPS. There are cases when a high res bitmap, such as TIFF or PSD or JPEG will work, but raster graphics are harder to adjust for color output, clearance requirements and can contain artifacts which print pixelated, so what you get is what you get.

How picky am I about color?

Hey, we get that color is important – it’s branding! And there are thousands of colors out there, some with dramatic variance and some so subtle it takes side-by-side examination in natural light to notice a difference. What you need to decide is how important is color to me and my label? If you feel that it’s 8 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being not important at all and 10 being absolutely paramount) then you need to provide your printer with two things: PMS values for the important colors and a fully vector graphic. PMS stands for Pantone Match System and you’ll find printed swatches with thousands of number-coded colors at graphic design offices and print shops.

What is my budget?

If this is your first time ordering custom labels, you may not know what to expect in terms of cost. Are they going to cost me $0.10 per label or a $1.10 per label??? Well, cost is determined by A LOT of factors, such as size, shape, substrate, ink options, finishing specs and quantity for starters. As a general rule, the smaller, simpler and less durable your label is, the more cost effective it will probably be. For example, 1000 pieces of a 2” circle on a matte gold foil paper with black ink is going to cost less than a 1000 pieces of a 3” x 4” rectangle with consecutive barcodes on reflective vinyl with gloss lamination. However, there are lots of ways to create beautiful, inexpensive labels, especially when you start with great art. But you do need to bare in mind that custom printing is not cheap and the more you order, the lower the unit cost will be, so small-run orders of 100 labels tend to be on the pricey side.

How am I going to apply my labels?

There’s lots of ways that labels can be finished: rolls, sheets, singles, fan-folded, 2-up, 3” cores with a rewind direction of 4 and so on. If you are applying your labels by hand then it might not matter, but if you plan to distribute them for marketing purposes, you may prefer to have them supplied to you in singles, or if they are being machine applied, then you need those specs to supply to your printer. It’s common practice for a press operator to finish orders however they want, unless otherwise specified by the client. So don’t expect perforated rolls of 500 unless you ask for them!

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