Module 5 – Design Your Labels And Packaging

5.2 How to Create Your Labels

The steps required to plan for, prepare, acquire and then adhere your labels to your product can be broken down into the following 6 steps. Please follow them all and try not to take any shortcuts, no matter how tedious it may seem.

  1. Discuss The Label Requirements With Your Supplier
  2. Review Amazon’s Style Guidelines For Category Label Requirements
  3. Get a Barcode
  4. Get Your Labels Designed
  5. Review The Final Design With Your Supplier
  6. Get Your Labels Printed & Applied

Note, some of these steps may not apply if your labels are being done in­house with the supplier.

1. Discuss The Label Requirements With Your Supplier

Firstly, discuss the requirements of the label with the supplier again. Your initial chat with them might have been weeks ago now and I’m sure you didn’t really get into the details about labeling because you were talking price. So reach out again to them for advice as they would have done this hundreds of times before with previous buyers.

Below is some advice on what to ask the supplier:

  • Do they help with the labels?
    • If so:
      • In what capacity, can they design the labels in-house?
      • If so, can they also print them?
      • Do they know any legal requirements of your products
    • If not:
      • Can they suggest anyone?
      • Do they have a template for you to work off?
  • What are the limits/requirements for printing the label on the product?
    • Are there ideal measurements? label?
    • Are there color restrictions?
    • Is there a required format (eg. Vector)?
  • Can they review your label when it’s ready?
    • It’s always best to ask the supplier to review your label whether they are involved in the design or not. They will know what is right and wrong by industry standards.
  • When does the supplier need the final labels?

Use this list of questions to collect the information from your supplier during the call. Once you have a better idea of how the supplier can help with the labels you can break up the remaining tasks.

2. Review Amazon’s Style Guidelines For Category Label Requirements

Your supplier should have been able to advise you on the minimum label requirements needed, for example, a supplement needs to state the ingredients, or if a product is manufactured with Bisphenol A (BPA) plastic which is potentially toxic then it will need to be clearly stated.

An additional and very important step is to check the style guidelines for Amazon. Check the requirements for your product against the category in which you will be listing your product. Often the label isn’t mentioned, however, it is always best to check what types of information Amazon prefers before creating something they may take issue with.

Items to consider for your label:

  • Logo, tagline and product name
  • Company name and contact information
  • Ingredients list or materials
  • Safety warnings
  • Badges to emphasize features, such as Made in the USA

Pro Tip: A great way to see what’s necessary and accepted by Amazon as well as the buyers is to check the labels of your competition:

  • What type of details are common on them all?
  • What stands out?
  • Do they have a tagline or just a brand name?
  • Some might even have nothing.
  • Read the buyer questions for the product to see if there is any issues related to the label, such as “what’s this made from” or “where is it manufactured”.
  • Could this be a chance for you to have a superior product/label?

Take all of this into consideration when creating your label. Write out all of the necessary information you’ll need so you can start to get it designed.

3. Get a Barcode

Since you are bringing a new product into the world marketplace, you’ll need to register your new product with a relevant Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) code. Nearly all merchandise requires one of the following unique product identifiers: UPC, EAN or JAN codes.

If possible, try to incorporate your barcode in your labeling or packaging design.

What type of code do you need? The different type codes you need depend on your region and product that you are selling. The most notable exceptions are books, which instead always require an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) codes.

Here are the different GTINs you might encounter:

  • UPC (in North America / GTIN­12): 12­digit number (8­digit UPC­E codes should be converted to 12­digit UPC­A codes)
  • EAN (in Europe / GTIN­13): 13­digit number
  • JAN (in Japan / GTIN­13): 8 or 13­digit number
  • ISBN (for books): 13­digit number (ISBN­10 values should be converted to ISBN­13)
  • ITF­14 (for multipacks / GTIN­14): 14­digit number

So, where can you get one of these barcodes? You only need one code per product and we recommend that you find a scannable barcode from reputable sellers. They should be relatively inexpensive at $5 per code and you can find them on eBay or websites such as Speedy Barcodes.

Once you have bought the most appropriate code, keep it in a safe place. They are important! Amazon will use it, automatically convert your GTIN into their own internal SKU system called an ASIN.

4. Get Your Labels Designed

If your supplier can’t help with labels, as we previously introduced to you, use a website like Fiverr or Upwork to hire professional designers at competitive prices. There are many graphic designers out there who can mock up a label for you in no time.

Regardless of if you are using the in­-house design team or an outsourced person, you’ll need our top tips when dealing with designers:

  • Know what you want
  • Write clearly
  • Provide examples to use as inspiration

Know what you want

Don’t expect to get back the design you were hoping for in your head. Other people are not mind readers and being left to interpret things, the designer will do their own variation.

If the printer needs specific file types to print the labels then be sure to specify any final file formats required for the end product. If in doubt, ask the printer.

Write clearly

Remember, any mistakes are your fault. Take it on board and learn from it. Therefore, your instructions  need to be very clear, without any ability for interpretation. If you can, write out your requirements as bullet points. This way you’re forced to be short and precise.

For example:

  1. Use label from xxx as the base.
  2. Change the logo to logo.gif file attached.
  3. Change address to xxx.
  4. Replace existing barcode with barcode.gif file attached.
  5. Use in Arial font in black only for text.
  6. Final design needs to be in a PDF and Adobe Illustrator (AI) file formats.
  7. Final design needs print bleed marks. (So, you know where to crop/cut the edges)

Provide examples to use as inspiration

If you already have some sketches you’ve done, send them to the designer. Or if you’re copying a format from the supplier (or a competitor’s label) send it to them. If possible mark up the changes yourself in a Word document or using Paint/Preview programs.

5. Review The Final Design With Your Supplier

Always double-check your requirements against the final design before giving the final approval and payment to the designer. We highly recommend that you also run the final design past the supplier so that they can confirm everything is as it should be.

Remember your supplier has had much more experience with this than you and will be able to spot if something is out of place quickly. However, you are the one responsible for the end product, so make sure that you have confirmed all the required details on the labels.

The printer will normally need specific files for your design (PDF, AI, etc), so be sure to ask them what they need. Your designer should have no issues converting the file into your required format, however, it’s always best to ask this upfront.

6. Get Your Labels Printed & Applied

Once the design is finalized you’ll be ready to get the labels printed when needed. At this stage of the course you’re likely working on getting your labels designed so that the supplier can firm up a quote for you.

Once your supplier is ready to print the labels, hand over the design files to them and they’ll do the rest. Printing the labels and applying them to your product. In this scenario, there is no additional shipping step as it’s all done in­house.

If your supplier doesn’t handle labels then you should ask for a referral. Failing that, it’s back to our good friend Google to find a printer and get some quotes. You’ll place the order, pay and invoice and give the address to ship the finished goods to. This is all very standard so we won’t go into more details here.

Next, Let's Talk About Creating Your Packaging!

First impressions are important, and the packaging is the first thing your customers will see when they receive your product. So it’s worth looking into custom packaging. Next up, we’ll discuss what you need to consider about packaging and how your supplier can help with it.