Top 10 Quotes on Design

These are some of my all-time favorite quotes about design. What are yours? Email them to me and I will publish them here.

Design is art that makes itself useful. 1984 poster for Die Neue Sammlung, Design Museum, Munich

Marketing without design is lifeless, and design without marketing is mute. Von R. Glitschka

Design to express, not to impress. John Tanedo

Design is the silent ambassador of your brand. Paul Rand

Everything is designed. Few things are designed well. Brian Reed

Continue reading “Top 10 Quotes on Design” »

Digital vs. Flexo Printing: It All Comes Down to Plates

Expensive Dinner Plates

In the past, all label and sticker printing was done on big, mechanical flexographic printing presses. With the advent of digital printing presses, consumers suddenly had more options. And, in some cases, more confusion. While certain types of printing jobs are more appropriate for flexographic printing, digital printing has many advantages over more traditional printing methods. When it comes to printing high-quality custom labels and stickers, digital printing is the best option for many consumers.

I’m going to take this opportunity to list the main differences between digital and flexographic printing so that you can decide for yourself which type of technology works best for you.

Flexo vs. Digital Printing: Key Differences

1. Speed

With no plates to create, and very little setup of the machine, a custom label job printed on a digital printing press can be printed in minutes. In contrast, many flexographic printing presses can take several hours to set up for a four color process job. Flexographic printing is a complex process that  involves outputting your artwork to film in order to create flexographic printing plates. These plates are then loaded on to the printing press, the inks are mixed and the machine is calibrated. All this must take place before you can print a single label or sticker. As such, digital print shops can turn jobs around much faster than flexo print shops. At Lightning Labels, the average turnaround time for orders is only three business days once the final press proof is approved.

2. Image Quality

Our digital printing presses can print at 230 line screen, whereas most flexographic presses print at 133 or 150 line screen. You can really see the difference in the custom label’s detail and color. If you are selling your products at the retail level, you should consider digital printing based on the quality of the label it produces. If your labels will only be used exclusively in-house, then quality is probably not as big of an issue for you. If this is the case, flexographic printing might meet your needs, depending on how soon you need your labels, the size of your order, and other factors.

3. Cost

Because there are no plates to create, no film to output, and minimal machine setup, fixed costs for digital printing are very low in comparison with flexographic printing. This means that if you want to print a relatively small number of custom labels or stickers (i.e., less than 25,000), you should get a better price from a digital printer than a flexo shop. If you need to need to order in extremely large quantities, however, you might be able to find lower pricing at a flexo shop.

Furthermore, custom label designs and content can change frequently. With flexographic printing, new plates must be made every time  a change is made to a label or sticker. With plate charges running around $230 per set for each design, design changes can be very expensive at a flexo shop. Of course, if your designs never change, this is not an issue. But if you need product labels, it is almost inevitable that will update your product label designs on an annual basis at minimum.

4. Flexibility

Perhaps digital printing’s greatest strength is its flexibility. With digital printing you can print 1,000 custom labels and every label can contain different data. Whether you want to include names from a database, consecutive numbers, multiple barcodes, or just several versions of the same label, digital printing can handle it. Flexographic printing just can’t.

Know why flexographic printing can’t compete with digital printing when it comes to flexibility? That’s right — all those plates get in the way. And they also get in the way when competing with digital printing in terms of speed, image quality, and cost.

LL Sponsors Elementary School in Boulder for International Walk to School Day


Lightning Labels is proud to sponsor Heatherwood Elementary School in International Walk to School Day this year. We donated stickers and window decals for the event, which is scheduled for Wednesday, October 6. Other sponsors of the event include energy bar maker Clif Bar & Company.

Walk to School encourages students and their parents to incorporate more physical activities into their daily routines, to be safety-conscious when walking and biking, and to do their part to reduce traffic congestion, pollution and speeding near schools. The event also promotes a sense of community.

In conjunction with International Walk to School Day, the Boulder Valley School District (which  Heatherwood Elementary is part of) is encouraging students to walk to school all week with their Shoot for the Moon Challenge. The goal of the initiative is for students across the district to walk enough steps Oct. 6-12 so that when they are multiplied by 10, they will reach the moon.

Lighting Labels applauds Heatherwood Elementary for encouraging its students to reduce their impact on the environment, get more exercise, and stay safe when walking and biking. We also wish all Boulder Valley students the best of luck in achieving their goal in the Shoot for the Moon Challenge.

Google Team Promotes Data Liberation with QR Code Stickers

If you read this blog regularly, then you know that Peter Renton and I have written a great deal about QR codes. Basically, we think they are pretty darn amazing. You can imagine how excited I was, then, when I learned that we are printing QR code stickers for a customer here at Lightning Labels.
Google Data Liberation Barcode

The Data Liberation Front, an engineering team at Google, will use the QR code stickers to raise awareness of the concept of data liberation.

Scanning the QR code with a smartphone camera will open the home page of the Data Liberation Front’s website in the user’s mobile browser. If you have a mobile phone with Internet access and a camera, you can see how this works for yourself right now. First, install a barcode scanning application such as ScanLife on your mobile device. Next, open the barcode scanning application and use it to take a photo of the image of the  QR code sticker pictured above. It will open the Data Liberation Front’s home page on your mobile browser.

If you would like to order a packet of Data Liberation Front stickers, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to this address:

The Data Liberation Front
c/o Google
20 W. Kinzie, Floor 9
Chicago, IL 60654

In closing, I would like to say that I applaud Google’s efforts to live up to its user friendly claims by ensuring that people who use its products can export their data, vs. holding the data hostage like many other online product makers are in the habit of doing. Hopefully, other online product makers will follow in the footsteps of the Data Liberation Front and embrace freedom, not fear.

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Would Your Wine Brand Be Missed?

Mike Carter

Editor’s Note: We are excited to have Mike Carter guest blog for us today! For more than a decade, Mike has helped wine companies manage their new product development process. He is also a published author, with articles appearing in the magazines Practical Winery & Vineyard and WineLand. Mike earned his MBA at Bond University and lives in Somerset West, South Africa. You can read more of Mike’s writing online at Serious About Wine, his wine packaging blog, and at South African

In their book Mavericks at Work, William C. Taylor and Polly LaBarre include a very powerful question every brand owner must ask themselves. And given the current state of the global wine industry and its uncertain future, it’s a question every wine brand owner must answer today to better prepare for tomorrow.

That question is:

“If your company went out of business tomorrow, who would really miss your brand and why?” Continue reading “Would Your Wine Brand Be Missed?” »

Itchy-O Marching Band of Denver, Colorado

Itchy-O Band Sticker

Lightning Labels recently printed up some custom made stickers for Itchy-O Marching Band, a marching band project based here in Denver, Colorado. The 25-member band describes its sound as a unique “industrial brand of trance-like drum corp music.”

Two things set Itchy-O apart from other marching band projects:

1) All brass instruments have been replaced by battery-powered electronic devices such as theremins. That’s right, this marching band has no trumpets, trombones, nor other shiny gold instruments with mouth pieces and horns. And its music has an electronic edge.

2) You never know when nor where they will show up. Itchy-O plays when and where it wants, often right on the street in front of crowded musical venues and unannounced at special events in the Denver area. Performing by the seat of their pants means that Itchy-O finds its audiences. In other words, you can’t buy a ticket to go see Itchy-O. They have to find you.

The crowds Itchy-O brings its music to display a wide range of emotions when they unexpectedly encounter Itchy-O rounding a bend on the street, from curiosity to pure delight to shocked amazement that freezes the spectator in a state of confusion.

Performing on the fly gives Itchy-O a huge amount of freedom. Because there is no need need for the band to deal with the politics of booking and promoting, they have more time and energy to focus on what they do best, making music.

Lightning Labels loves printing band stickers almost as much as it loves music. If you need custom made stickers printed for your band, give us a call at 1-888-685-2235 or send us an email. Launches Sister Site Devoted to Wine Packaging Logo with Images of Wine Bottles

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I love, love, love the packaging design blog You can imagine, then, how excited I am that they have launched a sister site dedicated to showcasing the best designs and trends in the wine packaging industry. That’s right, I am doing the happy dance this week.

So who else is excited about Check it out and let me know what you think.

LL Great Resource for Small Businesses Competing for Shelf Space, Customer Says


Here at Lightning Labels, we take great pride in producing professional, high-quality labels. And because our digital printing technology allows us to keep our prices on small orders affordable, we attract a lot of young businesses that are producing some truly  innovative products.

Betsy Wallace is one such customer. Betsy owns The Baby Foodies, a company that makes seasoning mixes designed specifically for infants so that parents can safely introduce new flavors to their children without worrying about loading them up with salt, sugar and preservatives. Here’s what she had to say in a recent email about how our labels are helping her grow her business:

Hi (Lightning Labels),

Just wanted to let you know that we just got our spices into our first natural foods grocery store- the merchandising manager absolutely loved the quality of the labels.  It was definitely a tipping point in his decision making and he commented several times re: how professional the product looked because of the “high end” labels. A great resource for small businesses trying to compete for shelf space. Hopefully business will be booming and I’ll be putting in a re-order soon!

Betsy Wallace
The Baby Foodies

Watching our customers go after their dreams is one of the most rewarding aspects of what we do here at Lightning Labels. And knowing that our labels and stickers are helping small businesses go toe-to-toe with the big boys is even sweeter.

Learn How to Achieve the ‘Flash for Cash’ with Chrome Labels

Newsletter Image

The summer edition of our newsletter is now available online! Download the Lightning Flash as a printable copy of our popular quarterly newsletter. Or, read individual newsletter articles online in our Lightning Flash archive.

In this issue of the Lightning Flash:

• One of our customers, Joshua B. Smith, founder of NRG-X, tells his story of building his business from $50 to over $15 million and being named as one of Inc. Magazine’s Top CEOs in America under 30.

• Why Joshua B. Smith only trusts Lightning Labels to print his award-winning chrome product labels.

• What chrome labels are, and how to leverage them for your business.

• Plenty of tips for creating your own stunning chrome label designs from Josh Tocko of Premiere Designs who designed the labels for Joshua B. Smith.

• Information you need to plan ahead for the holiday season.

To read past editions of The Lightning Flash, visit our newsletter archive.  To get an instant quote for your label order online, visit the Lightning Labels website, or call us toll-free at 1.888.685.2235.