What to Consider When Designing a Food Label

What to Consider When Designing a Food Label

You're selling a new food product and really want customers to flock to purchase it. But instead of leaping off the shelves, it's just collecting dust. How do you change this?

While many factors affect customers' buying habits, advertising and design are critical aspects, and a key part of this is your label. A good label will entice customers to buy your product, while a poor design will probably drive them elsewhere.

So how do you create a food label that catches the eye and boosts the sales of your foods? Consider these topics to start, then check out our step-by-step guide to ensure you make it exactly how you want it!

What Are You Selling?

The advertisement has to match the product and vice versa. Aside from the obvious (you probably don't want to use photos of hamburgers to advertise blueberries, for example), you want to design a food label that fits your product.

Much like designing a beverage label, there are many factors to consider. An important thing to decide is whether you plan on selling only one product or a line of food products. If it's only one product, great! You can match your label directly to what you're selling.

But if you have a variety of foods, you have to decide how you want to approach labelling them. Do you want similar-looking labels that will entice people to buy from the whole selection? Or would you like each product to stand completely on its own? Both can be good options, but you will have to judge what works best for your company.

Who Is Your Target Audience?

A teenager will be drawn to different product labels than a working mother, a chemical engineer, or a celebrity. You need to figure out who your targeted customer is and advertise to them effectively.

Is your target audience more interested in pictures of food, or dark colours, or a well-designed brand logo? If you're selling junk food to college students, you will want to take a different approach to labeling your products than if you're selling to grandparents.

Different audiences require different methods, so figuring out your ideal demographic is key!

What Style Food Label Do You Want?

As mentioned above, your label decisions could change depending on whether you plan on selling products individually or as an entire line. Do you want to plan your styles to all be similar, or can each product go its own way?

Typically, you want something colourful and easy to understand (although there can be exceptions). Remember that you are often competing with similar products on the same shelf, so you want something that immediately identifies your food while still enticing people to buy it.

Sometimes products will go for a "gimmicky" approach, trying to attract shoppers with the uniqueness of their labels. Maybe if you put together multiple boxes, they make a cool design. Or perhaps you want to advertise something weird and eye-catching about your product, to encourage people to buy it for the novelty.

Even if you want to make your labels more stable and less weird, you still need to find a good style. As mentioned above, your target audience will play a big part in this.

Try to find a good font that matches your product. If you're selling super spicy chips or something else on the "edgy" end of the spectrum, you will more likely use a more unique font. Maybe the letters will be jagged and spiky in a way reminiscent of heavy metal bands.

But if you're not going for something that out there, make certain your label is clearly legible. Test your lettering, and see if someone looking at a shelf would pick your food out or simply gloss right over it.

It's a particularly good idea to go to a store and take note of which products catch your eye, and which you don't notice until the second or third pass. Does the word RICE on a plain background grab your attention better than a busy design does?

Whatever style you decide to go with, this is a very important step. Many buying decisions are made in store, and you want to get those customers right away, or they may be gone forever. 

What Colours Do You Want?

As with style, your colour choices are highly dependent on your product and your target audience. Are you looking to make your product stand out for first-time buyers, or comfortably familiar to regular customers?

While colours are important, you don't need to use every colour in the rainbow to make your label pop! Find a good colour set, maybe with some decent contrasts for your letters, and keep it from getting too complex.

Try to pick colours that go well with what you are selling. Scientific research has shown that packaging and colouring have a correlation with customer purchases, and some studies may even indicate that colours can invoke certain moods in customers. Do you want your product to feel mysterious? Consider putting a lot of black on the label. Or maybe you want to evoke strong emotions? Red might be a good colour for you!

Blank space is often just as important as vibrant colours. An empty part of the label can more greatly emphasize another part, perhaps pointing towards the tagline of your food or a nice picture of the snack sitting on a table.

What Information Do You Want to Provide?

Depending on your product, you may want to provide a lot of information pertaining to your food product. Or maybe that's not a great selling point, and you want to leave it for the nutrition label on the back!

Many customers say that they read nutrition facts on the front of food labels and often find them helpful. If your food has some nutritional qualities you feel would entice buyers, you may want to advertise it on the front! If you don't have great nutrition facts, it's probably best not to draw attention to them if it can be avoided.

Also important to think about are things like quantity, production location, any changes that have been made, or any other bits of information you think could be attractive to customers. Remember: this label is you selling your product, so find the best way to do so!

However, sometimes extra information is unnecessary or distracting. If you don't have enticing nutrition facts, cool serving amounts, or a neat food source, you might be best with just the basics. Give them the name of the food and your brand with a good design, and leave the rest for the back.

How Do You Want Your Customers to Feel?

As mentioned earlier, colours can sometimes affect emotions in customers. But what emotions do you want your customers to feel when they consider buying your product?

If you want your customers to be amused, perhaps you try for a weird or humorous label design. This may not be your best strategy for certain foods, but it is worth considering.

More likely though, the emotion you'll want to provide is satisfaction. A customer finds your product, dumps it in their cart, and crosses that item off their list. How do you evoke this feeling with a label?

A good starting point is, as mentioned before, making the label easy to read. If your customer has trouble figuring out what you're selling, even for a few seconds, they will grow frustrated. And you want to avoid frustrated customers as much as possible!

You can also think about nostalgia as a possible emotional selling point. There are a couple of ways you can try to create this feeling in your customers.

If your product has been around for a while, perhaps try referencing back to older versions of your product, or earlier times when people used it. If not, you can still reference "the good old days" and find some way to connect your label with the concept of days gone by. Maybe you show an old-fashioned drawing of a family eating dinner, or someone ploughing a field behind a team of horses.

Do You Want to Match Other Products?

Finally, how much do you want to stand out? This really boils down to the food label designs on similar foods, and whether you want to look different or not.

Are you offering the same type of green beans for a lower price? Maybe you don't need to stand out much from the popular green bean company, as your sales price will do the advertising for you.

But if you can't beat them with price, maybe you want a more vibrant, exciting label. Make the customer want to spend that extra bit of money to get your product because it just looks so good! This might be a good situation for putting a crisp, delicious photo of your food on the label, or really drawing them in with your amazing artwork and design.

It really all depends on your product and the choices you make about it. Find what marketing strategy works for you, and make that label the best it can be!

What Now?

While these are good tips to follow, designing a food label is only one step towards making great sales with your product. You need to order samples, consult with printing experts, and figure out your materials and quantities.

Thankfully, we can help with all of those things! Whatever your label production needs, reach out to us, and we'll do our best to help you make the best labels possible!