Sticker Appreciation 101

While we usually blog about more practical applications for labels and stickers, we couldn’t resist sharing these photos of an interactive art installation featured on BuzzFeed. For details about The Obliteration Room, read What Happens When You Give Kids Thousands of Stickers.

A clean slate - Obliteration Room ( Yakoi Kusama, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane)

Art instruction - Obliteration Room ( Yakoi Kusama, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane)

Young artist at work - Obliteration Room ( Yakoi Kusama, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane)

Work in progress - Obliteration Room ( Yakoi Kusama, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane)

Closeup - Obliteration Room ( Yakoi Kusama, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane) Continue reading “Sticker Appreciation 101” »

Following His Bliss: How Christopher Lee Lyons Became a Music Designer

Res digipack - Created by FHONIK graphic design

This month’s Customer Spotlight is on FHONIK®, a studio that specializes in providing creative direction and graphic design for musical artists like Indie rocker Res, and rappers Talib Kwel and Hi-Tek. Lightning Labels conducted the following interview with Owner/Creative Director Christopher Lee Lyons. Read on to find out who his favorite musical artist of all time is, how MTV influenced him as a designer, and why he has fond childhood memories of cleaning house.

Christopher Lee Lyons - FHONIKLIGHTNING LABELS: How did you end up specializing in graphic design and creative direction for the music industry? In other words, how did your business get started?

FHONIK: I’ve had an interest, bordering on obsession, with music design since my childhood. I always
knew that eventually that interest would lead to a career. I’ve been a graphic designer for 14 years, mostly specializing in print and packaging for consumer goods, always knowing that music design was truly where my heart was. So three years ago I contacted one of my favorite musicians, Res, and sent her samples of my work. We immediately struck up a creative relationship. (Res is not only immensely talented musically, but also has a great eye and appreciation for design/art.) She was prepping her sophomore release, Black.Girls.Rock! and asked me to design the artwork for it. This was the birth of FHONIK, which is my music design alias.

John Lennon birthday tribute poster - Design by FHONIKI understand that you have been obsessed with music and design since growing up in the 1980s. What fed that obsession then, and how does it influence your work today?

Music was always surrounding me as a child. I grew up with two older sisters who loved and played music non-stop. I have very fond memories of my mom putting records on while we

cleaned the house every weekend. And from a very early age, I found myself constantly drawing everything from portraits to logos to lettering. And growing up in the 80s I had an immense appreciation for the visualization of music that I attribute to the birth of the MTV and the music video. And even though it’s not graphic design, it still had a major impact on me. I think MTV really cemented my love for mixing the two genres. I loved the early videos from those days by Madonna, Duran Duran and Michael Jackson and the work of phenomenally talented directors like Dominic Sena, Russell Mulcahy, Mark Romanek and my all-time favorite director, David Fincher. Their music videos were some of the works that really sparked my imagination about how music can so vibrantly come to life visually. Some day down the road I would even love the chance to dabble in making music videos.

How did you become a graphic artist?

I studied graphic design and first became a designer in the consumer goods industry designing packaging and/or print materials for brands like Tide, Downy, Crest, Iams, Kroger, Meijer and many more. Continue reading “Following His Bliss: How Christopher Lee Lyons Became a Music Designer” »

Sneak Peek at 2012: MORE Label Material Options for You!

2011 was a great year for Lighting Labels, and we hope it was for you, too! Here are the year’s highlights, followed by a sneak peek of what we have in store for you in 2012. We have a lot to look forward to this year as we celebrate a decade of printing high-quality, full color custom labels … Lightning Fast!

Looking Back at 2011 …

  • Started offering free ground shipping for all orders within the US & Canada
  • Launched the Label & Packaging News Center
  • Introduced the world to our fully compostable BioStone labels
  • Unveiled full lineup of eco-friendly label materials
  • Added new novelty label options for wine makers, including the lovely Satin Cloth
  • Upgraded website with shopping cart & user registration option
  • Reduced minimum order from 100 to 50 labels per version
  • Offered more special discounts than any previous year

And Forward to 2012

  • Our easy-to-use website will get a new look
  • We’ll help you save even more money when ordering labels
  • Because you asked, we will continue to give you even MORE label material options
  • New materials will include Gold BOPP, a cost-effective coverup paper, and holographics  — rainbow, sparkles, cracked ice, & stardust!

We have many other treats in store for you, too Continue reading “Sneak Peek at 2012: MORE Label Material Options for You!” »

How Manufacturers Can Hit a Hole in One by Studying Golf Brands

Golf equipment is somewhat challenging to market. It’s difficult to differentiate brands from each other, as they appear to be offering the same products. Still, some manufactures have extremely loyal fan bases. The reason? They design labels and packages for specific customer groups.

As Packaging Design Magazine notes, golf brands make extensive use of ethnographic research to determine how different consumers interact with various types of products and packages. They study how specific customers react to packaging labels and then design packaging labels based on customer feedback. Continue reading “How Manufacturers Can Hit a Hole in One by Studying Golf Brands” »

A Brief History of Cosmetic Labeling

Makeup began as an expensive commodity whose uses was limited to wealthy nobility. Cleopatra, for instance, lined her eyes with kohl. Despite their high cost and limited availability, many ingredients in cosmetic products were actually detrimental to one’s health and potentially lethal.

Here is a sample of the hazardous ingredients that used to be found in cosmetics:

  • Ancient Egyptians used lead ore around the eyes, which caused metal poisoning
  • Ancient Romans and Greeks believed rubbing the urine of young boys on the face reduced freckles
  • In the early 1900s, Japanese Geisha used white face powder made from crushed nightingale droppings
  • Ancient Persian women mixed henna, tadpoles, and the blood of black cows into a paste to darken their hair
  • Victorian women used arsenic in their face powder, which caused muscle paralysis

Cosmetic Regulations and Labels

By the mid-20th century, cosmetics had become part of almost every woman’s beauty routine. Today, a plethora of safe products for beautifying, tightening, brightening, and straightening make up a $170 billion industry worldwide.

According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, cosmetics used to be some of the least-regulated products in the world. Continue reading “A Brief History of Cosmetic Labeling” »

Santa Gives LL Employees Time Off, Puts Customers on ‘Nice’ List

Holiday closings - Lightning Labels


To:  Lightning Labels

From:  Santa Claus

Date:   December 22, 2011

Subject:  Holiday Gifts

First of all, I would like to commend you on the high quality of the toy labels you printed for my workshop at the North Pole. The elves still can’t get over the fact that they passed every test in our Toy Packaging Laboratory … with flying colors, HO-HO-HO!

Next, I have noticed you have been working hard to become more environmentally friendly. Your recently expanded line of eco friendly label materials is wonderful, with BioStone being my favorite. A water-resistant, compostable label made from rocks! You rolled out other unique products like Satin Cloth labels this year, and you know how I love creativity. My notes also indicate that you have been generous to your customers this year by lowering your minimum order, offering free ground shipping, and helping them save money. As a small token of my appreciation, I have made it possible for your employees to take some time off to enjoy the holidays this year.

Holiday Closings

Friday, Dec. 23, 2011

Monday, Dec. 26, 2011

Monday, Jan. 2, 2012

I also have a surprise gift for your customers this year, a special holiday discount. I had to cash in some favors, but it was worth it. Look what they’re getting for Christmas this year! Continue reading “Santa Gives LL Employees Time Off, Puts Customers on ‘Nice’ List” »

Label Your Way to Brand Loyalty

Have you ever heard of the Box Tops for Education program? It’s a fundraising initiative that product manufacturers can support by printing specified information on the top flaps of their product boxes. After consumers use up the products in these boxes, they raise money for the school of their choice by turning the box top flaps in.

Box Tops for Education allows participating manufacturers to contribute to a worthy cause. As an added benefit, it builds up the value of their brands by positioning them as companies who positively impact the communities where their products are sold. Since consumers are more likely to trust companies who demonstrate that they care about people, not just profits, this is a great way for manufacturers to increase brand loyalty.

Savvy product manufacturers can increase brand loyalty and give them an edge over their competition in a similar fashion. The premise of these types of programs (or campaigns if you prefer to call them) is to give buyers reasons to hold onto product labels even after they have recycled or otherwise discarded the rest of the packaging. They essentially find ways to increase the value of the product labels themselves. Although Lightning Labels always encourages manufacturers to give something back to the communities that keep them in business, brand loyalty programs don’t necessarily have to focus on charitable causes to be effective. Continue reading “Label Your Way to Brand Loyalty” »

The Importance of Promoting “Made in the USA”

flagWith many people who want to work unable to find jobs, consumers are more aware than ever of the importance of buying products that put Americans to work. For companies that manufacture  products in the United States, it is important to include labeling on each item that shows potential customers their commitment to building the American economy.

The phrase “tough economic times” has been overused in recent years to describe the economic downturn that has caused so many Americans to become unemployed. Overused or not, however, these are indeed tough economic times for those who can no longer pay their bills because of the shrinking job market. As a result, many Americans are consciously choosing to spend disposable income on products that contribute to a stronger American economy.

For this very practical economic reason, a country of origin label makes sense. This type of label is easier than ever to product thanks to the availability of online label printing services.

While the US has been making goods since, well, 1776, country of origin labeling legislation only came about with the Tariff Act of 1930, which required most imports to indicate country of origin. Continue reading “The Importance of Promoting “Made in the USA”” »

How to Get the Most Out of Your Product Labels

Many companies view labels as advertising tools — they help the brands encourage customers to choose their products over the competition. However, businesses that use labels solely for this purpose may be missing other opportunities as well.

Nowadays, new technology enables brands to leverage product labels in ways that engage consumers beyond first glance. For example, quick-response codes could be pasted on the front or reverse sides of labels to give consumers more information on products or special discounts.

Meanwhile, other brands have instituted reward or loyalty programs for collecting product labels, further encouraging customers to purchase their goods. Continue reading “How to Get the Most Out of Your Product Labels” »

Healthy Food Product Labels: How Healthy Are Their Claims?

Increasingly health-conscious consumers have spurred a revolution in product labeling, but who decides what terms like “low fat” and “natural” mean on food product labels? The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration regulate the use of some terms, but not others.

AllNaturalFood giant General Mills is facing a lawsuit from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a non-profit private watchdog group, over the company’s claims that their processed fruit snacks are healthy foods. While specific phrases on the packages are accurate — the snacks are indeed low in calories, fortified with vitamin C and gluten-free — the CSPI contends that these statements don’t accurately reflect the nature of the pre-packaged snacks. Compared to a piece of fruit with its low sugar, high fiber and rich supply of vitamins, processed fruit sheets fall short, the group claims.

General Mills may be disguising the less healthy aspects of their fruit snacks behind prominent displays of their virtues, but they aren’t making things up. Yet this kind of fudging may become a thing of the past as food product labels come under closer FDA scrutiny. While all fats were once lumped together on the label, the administration now requires manufacturers to break those fat grams into percentages of total fat, trans fat and saturated fat. Any fat labeled “partially hydrogenated” is a trans fat, a processed oil that underwent chemical alteration to turn it into a shelf-stable, solid fat. A similar push is underway to separate total sugar content into high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose and other sugars. Continue reading “Healthy Food Product Labels: How Healthy Are Their Claims?” »