Category Archives: Variable Data Labels

As consumer demand for personalization of product packaging has increased, so has the relevancy of variable data label printing. One of the advantages of having your custom labels printed using digital technology is that it makes it easy to switch up some of the data printed on each label without racking up plate fees and other costs associated with traditional label printing. Printing your labels with variable data can be as simple as personalizing a label design with customer names or favorite colors, or as complex as switching out wine label designs with poems that have been ordered by customers online. Variable data label printing, as the articles below explain, are an easy way to add a lot of value to your products for very little cost.

New Year Label Resolutions For Health Product Makers

Label Attraction for Nutraceuticals and Food and Beverage Products

As the world gears up its health-conscious resolutions for 2013, it’s a logical time for manufacturers of health-related nutraceutical, and food and beverage products to address how to improve product attraction in the marketplace.

Regardless of sales channels—retail, distributors, white-label branding, et al.—every manufacturer of health-related products can enhance offerings by asking the marketplace for recommendations regarding label form and functionality. It’s important to poll all target audiences (e.g., end users, retailers, distributors) to identify common and disparate preference threads—then decide how to address them.

nutraceutical labelsEnd-user consumers may have ideas and preferences far different than healthcare practitioners who order products for their clients. By examining all major audiences, the manufacturer can then craft a labeling approach that will provide maximum appeal across the board.

Following are key areas to examine:

Professionalism vs. panache

Professionals tend to buy products based on reputation and performance. For them, primary label concerns may focus on accuracy, complete disclosure and legibility. In contrast, end-users selecting from online sites or on store shelves likely will be attracted to flashier, more prominent labels. Depending on the age group and other demographics involved, what constitutes favorably-flashy can vary considerably. Millennials often have preferences far different than baby boomers, for example.

One size fits all vs. multiple looks

It’s very important for product manufacturers to consider if or how they may want to segment labeling schemes for multiple audiences while maintaining key branding elements. Digital label printing enables easy and economical production of a variety of labels to help achieve wide-ranging objectives. And variable image options can make the process even faster and more affordable, expediting printing of multiple designs in one run. While there’s no cardinal rule mandating single or multiple label designs, digital label printing offers solutions across the board.

This can be a tough call. Often, healthcare practitioners will eschew products with labels that appear too “out there,” opting instead for a conservative, businesslike look and feel. Reconciling this with different consumer preferences about shelf-appeal and the like can prove challenging.

Testing different labels

Digital label printing affords health product manufacturers the luxury of test marketing. Based on initial determination of marketplace preferences, manufacturers can literally try out many colors, fonts, and even label materials. For example, manufacturers adhering to environmentally-friendly practices may want to use green packaging, label materials and inks. EarthFirst PLA is one intriguing label material made from corn instead of petroleum that can offer a different look and position the manufacturer as a solid supporter of the environment.

Just as health-oriented consumers ring in the in the new year with commitments to get healthier and wiser, so should product manufacturers look at improvements in packaging and labeling that can lead to a healthier bottom line.


Label Printing Company, Custom Labels, Label Printing

Limited-Edition Labels Enhance the “Custom” in Custom Label Printing

Denver, CO, (December 4, 2012) – Lightning Labels, a custom label and sticker printing leader, encourages manufacturers to take advantage of digital label printing technology and incorporate unique, limited-edition labels and packaging this holiday season. To assist customers and manufacturers with holiday marketing, Lighting Labels releases business development tips that cover short-run, limited-edition labels, seasonal custom labels and product packaging.

“Just as technology has enabled major advances in such areas as social media, so is it positively impacting other forms of personalized business development,” says Business Development Manager AnneMarie Campbell. “The manufacturer can collect a certain number of orders, then create personalized product labels targeted to buyers. Instead of just trumpeting the product, it also heralds the customer – heightened perceived value, loyalty and goodwill – which is fitting this holiday season.”

People Flock To Short-Run, Limited-Edition Labels
Even if the product is left unchanged, printing an updated or special-edition label design – made easy with advancements of digital label printing techniques – can attract more customers to the product. Lightning Labels’ business development tips apply to targeting a new audience or marketing toward an entirely new set of potential customers. This creates an opportunity to test new label design and copy without the risk and pressure of harming the product’s already-positive image.

If the limited-edition run is overwhelmingly successful, Lighting Labels recommends doing more special-edition promotions and/or integrating some related tactics into their everyday labels and product marketing strategies.

What Limited-Edition Labels And Products Truly Mean
Special-edition custom labels haven’t always been affixed to products; in fact, the trend didn’t come into full effect until the late 1990s, when it was used as a marketing ploy. Companies utilizing this strategy were quick to discover that not only did demand for the so-called “limited” products increase, but people were willing to pay more money for products labeled as “limited” or “special.”

What started as a marketing plan for higher-end manufacturers and companies is now utilized across the globe by companies. During the holidays, though, more special-edition products seem to line the shelves, from collector tins to themed labels and packaging. Millions of people have made it their hobby to collect as many of these products annually as possible.

How Seasonal Labels And Packaging Affect Consumers
People historically understood that the holidays were fast-approaching by changes in weather, but the prevalence of seasonal custom labels has changed consumers’ holiday associations. Rather than determining the true start of autumn by falling leaves, people rush to devour limited-edition pumpkin spice delicacies and harvest-colored custom labels; winter’s arrival is welcomed by companies’ use of holiday-themed labels and packaging.

The low cost of digital label printing makes limited editions an attainable marketing and promotional plan that can be used for various events and seasons throughout the year. Although it’s not limited to the holiday season, it can be a good time to begin and test the strategy. Low custom labels, label printing, label printing companylabel printing costs and affordable prices of smaller sample batches from Lightning Labels give manufacturers the option to try this tactic on a few products or orders at a time.

How to Market Custom Labels and Products Seasonally
Lightning Labels’ industry advisors note that limited-edition custom labels not only look festive and welcoming, but they can be a gateway into creating an entire themed marketing campaign. Coffee drinkers around the world rejoiced when Starbucks announced via social media that its special-edition red cups were available once again, and manufacturers can use similar strategies.

Promote cheery, special-edition custom labels on your Facebook and Twitter accounts, then take advantage of multichannel marketing by posting pictures of the labels and packaging on Instagram and Pinterest, then tie everything together with a related #hashtag. Consider adding holiday-themed hashtags and QR codes to the limited-edition packaging that people can access once they see or purchase the collectable product.

Right now Lightning Labels is running a special promotion to celebrate its more than 10,000 Lightning Labels Facebook fans by offering 10% off all online orders from December 3, 2012 through December 5, 2012.  Simply use promo code LLFB10 at checkout.  The promo code LLFB10 is valid on new label orders placed online only and does not apply to reorders.  The maximum discount is $1,000. Free ground shipping applies to regularly priced orders shipped within the United States and Canada, but shipping charges apply for printed press proofs. This offer cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions.

About Lightning Labels:
Lightning Labels uses state-of-the-art digital printing technology to provide affordable, full-color custom labels and custom stickers of all shapes and sizes, and now offers a full line of custom packaging products. From small orders for individuals, to the bulk needs of big businesses, Lightning Labels is equipped to handle and fulfill sticker, label and product packaging projects of all types. Best of all, like the name implies, Lightning Labels provides a quick turnaround to every customers’ labeling and product packaging needs. Uses for Lightning Labels custom product labels and custom stickers include food packaging and organic food labels, wine and beverage labels, bath and body labels, and nutraceutical products, such as vitamins, essentials oils, and herbal remedies, as well as event stickers, adhesive window stickers and more. Lightning Labels strongly supports the development of environmentally friendly printing materials and carries EarthFirst PLA, a new kind of green label material made from corn instead of petroleum. While operating as a high-tech printer, Lighting Labels prides itself on its personalized customer service. Lightning Labels provides one stop shopping for all of your label and product packaging needs. For more information and to place orders online, visit For the latest in packaging news and labeling promotional offers, find Lightning Labels on Facebook, Twitter (@LightningLabels), and Google+.

Barcode Printing Best Practices

Bar CodeWhile barcodes have been an integral part of the business world for several decades, they have  recently become important to the average consumer, too.

Because of the rise in popularity of mobile barcodes, barcode labels are now considered an indispensable element of marketing strategy. The use of mobile barcodes by consumers rose over 1,000 percent over the course of 2011. Why? Barcodes can provide consumers with discounts, valuable information or quick access to a website.

When using barcodes, it is important to keep a few rules in mind to ensure they are quickly recognized and easily scannable.

How Barcodes Work
The first barcode most people have come to recognize is the UPC product code. This type of barcode is known as a one-dimensional (1-D) barcode because the information is encoded only in its width and is not dependent on height. These barcodes hold information that is encoded through the width and spacing of the vertical bars. The information contained by the barcode consists of a series of numbers, letters, common symbols or instructions for the barcode reader. The barcode reader is an infrared or laser device that identifies barcodes and decodes the information they contain.

Today, two-dimensional (2-D) barcodes are becoming the standard because they can contain much more information and a more complex set of instructions than 1-D barcodes. Two-dimensional barcodes are usually square, and the information is embedded through the location of small square marks within the larger square grid. Mobile barcodes may be read by laser scanners, but new technology allows for image-recognition scanning through mobile phone cameras.

Choosing Proper Barcode Size
One of the most important aspects of printing barcodes is the size. In theory, barcodes can be of any size. In practice, the minimum barcode size is restricted by printing resolution and resolution of the scanner. The maximum size is limited by the size of the scanner or the distance from which it can be read. When using 1-D barcodes, the minimum width for a barcode containing 15 characters printed at 100 dpi is 6 inches. At 300 dpi, the minimum width is reduced to 2 inches.

The size of 2-D barcodes depends on several factors. When printing mobile barcodes or barcode labels, a minimum size of 1 inch by 1 inch is recommended. On large posters, barcodes should be larger, especially if people may be standing some distance away while scanning.

Optimizing Barcode Recognition
Several techniques can help in optimizing the recognition of a barcode by a scanner. In addition to size, two important factors are color and placement. Barcodes should always be printed in black on a white background, and they should be placed only on flat surfaces without wrinkles or folds. In addition, barcodes should be placed within arm’s reach to prevent having to scan them at an angle. Barcodes should also be given a space separate from other images, especially when they are to be scanned with a mobile phone. Many people are tempted to incorporate barcodes into some form of branding, but this only confuses imaging scanners.

Barcodes have recently become very important to consumers, and consumers are using them more than ever before. Because their use is new for many people, printing and placement strategies are largely unknown. The factor that is most important to remember is that the benefits of barcodes are lost if they cannot be quickly and easily scanned.

John Elway, Nude Vodka and Variable Data Label Printing

John Elway Nude VockaEven though I was a big fan of John Elway (the former Denver Broncos quarterback) during his playing days I never thought he would make an appearance on the Lightning Labels blog. I was wrong.

Since retiring from football after the 1999 Superbowl Elway has pursued a variety of business interests. Last year, this included an investment in Nude Vodka, a new ultra-premium sipping vodka. To celebrate this investment, the people at Nude Vodka organized an “Evening with Elway” contest for their Colorado customers.

The way the contest worked is that every bottle of Nude Vodka sold in Colorado had a unique four digit number on the neck label. The owners of these bottles then had to register their information and bottle number of the Nude Vodka web site. Last week seven winning numbers were selected and the lucky winners will get to spend an evening drinking vodka with John Elway.

What I like about this contest is that it is a very simple and inexpensive way to add value to a product with variable data label printing. All Nude Vodka did was print some neck labels with the variable data numbers and setup a page on their web site to collect information. Total cost for all this would likely have been just a few hundred dollars I expect. Best of all they now have a database of their customers in Colorado that they can market to in the future.

Now, you might not be able to entice the services of a celebrity to promote your product but you can still use the same principles in your own marketing promotion. Everyone loves a giveaway, so put your thinking cap on and create a fun promotion. It can be a free product giveaway, cash, or a sought after item. I have noticed the iPad is a popular giveaway these days. At my old company I gave away a trip for two people to Australia (free airfare and accommodation) and that proved very popular.

The simplest way to manage a promotion is the way the Nude Vodka people did it. Add some variable numbers to your product labels, add a sign-up page on your web site and you’re done. Just be sure to market your promotion well so you get some good customer involvement. And of course, we will be happy to print your variable data labels for you.

The New Packaging Trend That Will Become a Tidal Wave

personalized product labels from Jones Soda

At the recent DSCOOP conference in Dallas I attended a panel with some major consumer brand owners. There were executives from Proctor & Gamble, Frito-Lay, Texas Instruments and BIC. These are all multi-billion dollar consumer product companies that spend a huge amount of time thinking about product labels and packaging.

Michael Ferrari is the global research and development manager for Proctor & Gamble and he made the following statement in response to a question about personalization: “product packaging personalization is a tidal wave that is coming.” He went on to say that all consumer brands need to think about how they can introduce a personalization option into their packaging.

This is an idea whose time has come. All the technology is in place right now to make this happen. There are a number of forward thinking companies who are already making personalization an option for their products. Here is a list of ten companies that are at the start of this tidal wave:

  1. Jones Soda – the granddaddy of personalized product packaging. The MyJones program has been available since 2002 where consumers can upload a photo and order their very own six-pack of soda.
  2. Heineken – this program is only available in Europe right now, but it allows you to choose from over 100 designs for your personalized six-pack of beer. You can add your own text and even add a photo to some designs.
  3. Pringles – you can create a can of Pringles with your choice of background, text, and you can also upload a photo.
  4. Heinz – a very simple program where consumers can customize the text on a Heinz ketchup label.
  5. Kleenex – the My Kleenex Tissue program allows you to add your own photo and text to an oval box 0f Kleenex.
  6. Sharpie – the My Sharpie program allows you to choose your Sharpie colors and customize with two lines of your own text.
  7. Pernod Ricard – this is a different program insofar as you don’t order the actual product online. It is from wine and liquor producer Pernod Ricard, and the way this works is you customize their label with text and then they mail the actual labels to you free of charge. Currently, you can personalize Chivas Regal, Kahlua or The Glenlivet.
  8. M&Ms – here you are not actually customizing the packaging, but rather the actual product itself. You can do two lines of text or a simple photo.
  9. Personal Wine – order just one bottle of wine from a select number of different wineries. You can personalize the wine labels with your own photo or choose from one of the templates.
  10. Baker’s Dog – upload a photo of your favorite pooch and order a bag of dog treats with the photo on the product label.

If you click through all the above links you will notice that some of these web sites are very sophisticated and some are simple. But the fact is you don’t need a large marketing budget to get started offering personalization to your customers. You can start with a simple site that just allows some text personalization and be up and running in a couple of days.

There are several advantages to having a personalization option for your products. You can engage your best customers and have them become even more committed to your brand. Done well, this can lead to a viral marketing campaign that can give your company some great exposure. Also, you can charge a premium for a personalized product – it has a much higher perceived value than a non-personalized product.

The younger generation of today have grown up with personalization. They are the reason this tidal wave is coming. You can give your company a head start by starting a personalization option for your product labels. Of course, here at Lightning Labels we will be happy to print your personalized labels and help you get started.

Google Sends Out 100,000 QR Code Stickers

DecalEarlier this month over 100,000 businesses around the country received a QR code sticker from Google that looks like the one here. These stickers were sent to the most popular businesses in Google’s Local Business Center database. The idea is for companies to stick this postcard sized sticker in their front window.

I have written about QR codes before here and here. For a quick recap, QR codes are two dimensional barcodes that use the cameras in smartphones to direct people to web sites. You can see the QR code in the bottom right corner of Google’s sticker. QR codes are very popular in Japan, and no doubt after this move by Google they will become more popular in this country.

Why would Google spend all this money sending these stickers out for free? Of course, they want more traffic to their web site. When you scan the QR code in these stickers, it takes you to the local listing for the business on Google with reviews, photos, and perhaps coupons.

It will be interesting to see how much this really spurs adoption of QR codes here. I can see a day in the not too distant future where most businesses have one of these stickers in their front window.

Now, you don’t have to wait for Google to send you one, you can create your own QR code sticker that directs people to your web site right now. You can create a graphic file of your QR code by using a QR code generator site such as Delivr or Kaywa. Then you can print it yourself or, of course, Lightning Labels will be happy to print these stickers for you.


Google Favorite Places coming to window near you – cnet news

Google Favorite Places – Google

Scannable Retail Stickers to Extend Google’s Local Presence – Clickz

Answer Honestly: Are Molson Beer Labels Using Variable Data?


Last week the Bevlaw blog discussed these Molson beer labels. This “Answer Honestly” campaign has been going on for over a year now and it seems to have been successful. Molson have been putting in hundreds of different beer label applications with different wording on the labels to the TTB.

I hadn’t noticed these labels before so I stopped by my local liquor store and picked up a six pack of Molson Golden. Then I snapped the photo above in my office this morning. You get the idea here. Each beer in my six pack had a different question on the label. You are given two options with neither option being particularly appealing. It is obviously designed to provoke conversations in bars and living rooms while you enjoy a cold Molson beer.

I have discussed before this idea of using variable data labels as a way to differentiate your brand and this is precisely what Molson has done. Although, I had my press operators take a close look at these labels under a magnifying lupe and it doesn”t look like they are printing these digitally, or at least not on an HP-Indigo press. The sharpness of the text is not up to HP-Indigo quality.

Molson is a very big brewery with long labels runs so no doubt they could probably print these labels conventionally, even if they have 200 or more different versions. Regardless of the print method, I applaud Molson for having a bit of fun with their labels and creating a talking point by using variable data.

With digital label printing technology, you don’t have to print large label quantities to take advantage of this concept. Any company can decide to create many unique sayings on their labels, to give their labels a bit more punch. It is so difficult to stand out these days on the retail shelf, giving your labels an edge like this can help you differentiate yourself from your competition.

Variable Data Parking Stickers for The Brickyard

Race Day

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway (also known as the Brickyard) is the largest capacity sporting facility in the world with seating for up to 400,000 people. It is famous for hosting the Indy 500 race every year, but as all NASCAR fans know, it also hosts a big NASCAR race – the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. This big race is next Sunday and here at Lightning Labels we are delighted to be a small part of this event.

If you turn up at the Brickyard next Sunday and pay to park your car you will likely receive a parking sticker printed by Lightning Labels. We recently printed many thousands of these stickers, each with a unique serial number. The bright orange color came out beautifully on our digital label press. So, enjoy the race next Sunday and if you receive a parking sticker you now know where it came from.