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To peel or not to peel

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Do you find recent “peel off” labels to display additional product information hurt your…fingers? I am. Trying to comply with the “peel here” instructions on a few bottles, I found the switch to be totally unproductive on one and effective on the other only after several attempts. As we begin the new year, this is a hot topic. .

Product manufacturers, in an effort to be ever more inventive and expansive with label information, must avoid creating a customer service issue in the process. Luckily, on the first bottle, I was able to digitally access the necessary information and ingredients. Since it was about vitamins, I insist on having all the information at hand.

The moral of the story: product manufacturers, think about your efforts to improve form and function at the expense of serving the customer well. At the time I took the vitamin challenge, I didn’t feel the love from the customer service – and it’s a well-known and respected manufacturer.

When I double-checked their label, I thought of several ways they could have handled the situation better:

  1. Include an easily accessible URL or QR code on the label for more information.
  2. Make an extended content label that unfolds to reveal the additional information they made on the peel-back. This way there would be no frustration and it would have been possible to include additional information such as reviews, recent links to vitamin studies, etc.
  3. Create an augmented reality (AR) presentation that could both further educate and entertain viewers about the manufacturer and its other products, and provide easy interactivity for additional reviews, surveys, and more. On the tag itself, all that is needed is a small digital ID that can be scanned by a smartphone to access it.

Besides, doing any of the above things might help mitigate or even eliminate other etiquette peeves that pop up all the time. With more bandwidth, whether in terms of physical label space or digital links to websites and other sites, it may be easier to stay clear of the following issues, including: :

Tiny type terrors. Yes, I know smartphones have all types of magnifying glass apps, but who really wants to decipher the contents of a label so small that perfect vision won’t get you there? Despite this obvious insult to good customer service practices — making it easy for people to read what you’re talking about — more and more tiny characters are showing up all over labels. Have you ever felt that the people who make customer service policy aren’t in touch with those who are responsible for branding, designing and presenting the label?

Obfuscate the function of the product. Is it a shampoo or a conditioner? Some products do a great job of describing the function upfront. If you’re in the shower, knowing the difference between shampoo and conditioner should be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, the taste for “trendy, avant-garde” design sometimes prevails over common sense. Customer service suffers.

Bury the lede. In addition to large, bold product function descriptions, labels should also prioritize the placement of content and graphics so that the most important information and disclosures appear before lower priority items. But, just as with so many “topical” stories these days, many labels are burying the lede. Consumers too often have to sift through a pile of gibberish to find the most important disclosures, warnings, ingredient information, and what sets the product apart from the competition.

A lot of bandwidth can be a blessing or a curse. In today’s information overloaded world, there is a tendency to over-present because there is room for it. We used to call it cluttering up all the white space with anything that “prints to fit” instead of looking at what’s “fit to print” and prioritizing accordingly.

One way to look at the basics of presenting labels that will resonate with consumers is to think of content and graphics as a social media post. Although the post may link to more information for those who want more information, the gist is usually very short – with one or two key thoughts/graphics.

That said, manufacturers of products subject to disclosure regulations should make compliance the primary consideration. And, products with a long and complicated ingredient list will also need to take this top priority over most, if not all, of the other considerations.

All of this means that the label’s strategy, design and branding deserve careful consideration. Rather than just slamming a bunch of ideas against the wall and picking one arbitrarily, take the time and dedicate the resources to get it right.
“Doing it right” can include market research to give consumers what they want.

Another crucial element is to engage the services of a seasoned and savvy branding specialist and graphic designer. With a top-notch team, the chances of developing the right label increase, as do the profits and longevity of the business.

Mark Lusky is a marketing communications professional who has worked with Lightning Labels, an all-digital custom label printer in Denver, CO, USA, since 2008. Find Lightning Labels on Facebook for special offers and product news. label printing.