Wondering why you may want to go with a simple label design? Check out our article for an interesting look at the science of a simple design.
From Instagram filters to jaw-dropping special effects, visual arts are a study in excess. There's always the chance to retouch, sharpen, or add in more elements.
However, there's an argument to be made for a simple design. This is especially true when it comes to making labels. Putting a label on your product requires a lot of research when it comes to getting it right.
A product label is like a good book cover. It intrigues while catching the eye. But there is no clutter, and it's not too busy.
This perfect blend of simplicity and visual communication can feel hard to achieve. It's easier to do when your design favours simplicity, though! That's why we've assembled a guide to the science of simple label design.
Connect With Your Audience
There's not a lot of room on your label. There's no opportunity to write a moving essay on the features of your product; no room for the backstory of the years of labour put into your product.
Instead, it's like writing a hook to a clickbait piece—the golden rule is to get in and get out, as painlessly as possible.
When you use a simple design, it's a chance to snag someone's interest. For example, take Heineken.
As a popular beer produced in the Netherlands, it's the beverage of choice for many in Europe. The label, however, says it all.
The wording says Heineken Lager Beer, Premium Quality. It describes what the product is, includes the brand name, and makes a claim about the beverage itself.
With language that simple, the audience doesn't feel confused or patronized. They know exactly what's inside the bottle, and with the promise of premium quality, they know exactly what to expect.
Use Colour Psychology
A simple design doesn't have a lot of room for words. We've all heard the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, but how can this hold true with a label?
Let's continue with the Heineken example. It's a classic green bottle, but why did they use the colour green? There are practical reasons, but consider green in colour psychology.
It's meant to evoke feelings of success, achievement, and safety. Action and progress are associated with the colour green. Why?
Some people say that it's because of spring. Others say that it's because of the traffic light associations.
No matter who you ask, green is a clever choice for a beer label. The bottle is green, but so is the actual label.
When do people typically reach for a beer? Stereotypically, they do at the end of a long hard day. They've succeeded at the tasks set before them, and feel safe enough to relax and kick back.
What about the red star, though? Stars, at least in the marketing world, indicate quality or success. It's where the idea of getting a gold star for achievement at work or school comes from.
Red is a popular colour to use in the food industry because it tends to evoke strong psychological feelings. Red is an attention grabber on a visual level. But on an emotional level, it tends to prompt action.
When you're scanning the beer aisle, trying to make a decision on what you want to take home, red tells you to make a decision. That's exactly what Heineken is trying to make you feel.
When you're trying to make decisions on your own label, do some research on what the colours are telling people. If you want people to take action on your brand based on the label colours alone, take a cue from Heineken!
Make it Scalable
In today's world, simple design is everything because your design has to live in so many mediums. It has to look good in a social media avatar, on a product, on a billboard, in a print ad, and more.
Your product label will be stretched, squeezed, expanded, and shrunk. When you have a lot of visual elements going on, this will be difficult. Everything will look distorted and wrong to the human eye.
This will require a lot of time to fix and change every time you want to use your label in a new medium. Think about how your product will look shrunk down and blown up. That way, the text isn't illegible on a smaller product or wildly distorted on a billboard.
Make It Memorable
The marketing world is crowded. There are millions of products that consumers could be spending their dollars on. But the truth is that you're not just competing for customer dollars, you're competing for their memory.
Picture this scenario. A customer is staring at their phone, trying to remember the product they saw an Instagram ad for yesterday. They saw a lot of ads yesterday, but something about yours snagged their attention.
They don't know how to find the ad again, so they're trying to remember the label, the name, anything to search it by. If your label is succinct and memorable, people will be able to find you again.
The human brain is assailed with millions of images each day. From seeing billboards walking down the street to looking through social media, we're all overwhelmed. It's hard for one product label to stand out in a sea of them.
The fewer elements you include, the easier it is to remember. People are too busy to remember all the elements of a cluttered image. Catching the eye is one thing, but getting people to remember it is a different ballgame.
Think of iconic brands like Nike. The Nike swoosh is easily recognizable anywhere, no matter what products you see it on. This is a case of brand recognition.
That's what you're shooting for with your product logo—something so simple and iconic that it's recognizable even without your brand name.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
The above saying is common, but it's crucial in label design. When you don't have a lot of space to work with, it's time to get creative. For instance, think about the overall aesthetic of your brand.
Maybe you're running a makeup company that has a nostalgic nineties bent. Frosted eyeshadow, glitter ... those are trends that many '90s kids will remember.
To evoke those feelings, it may feel all wrong to embrace a minimalistic label. What about the disco balls, the shimmer, the jeans under dresses?
You don't need to throw all of it on your label. Instead, what about a shimmery metallic label? Or a frosted label that's designed like an eyeliner wing?
Those aren't standard labels in the product packaging world. But they're still simple. They just leverage the few elements used to the max.
Simple Labels Make Better Packaging
What does the packaging for your products look like? Is it different for online orders versus in-person orders? Depending on what your packaging looks like, your label may need to be designed.
People make snap decisions based on first impressions. They make judgments on your brand's quality, commitment to their customers, and values. This can all be done based on the packaging and label.
For instance, if your label doesn't fit your packaging, is it poorly crinkled and falling off the package? Will the label stay on for the entire shelf life of the packaging? If not, it's time to rethink your design before you get too far into the process.
You may need to do some research to see what labels work with your packaging. When it's time to put your products out for the world to see, though, you'll be happy that you did!
Don't Be Afraid to Experiment
When you look at some of the most iconic brand labels, packaging, icons, and slogans, they may seem so natural. They're so obvious for the brands they represent.
However, obvious doesn't mean simple. Just because it looks effortless after being around for decades doesn't represent the behind-the-scenes work.
How many meetings, brainstorming sessions, and potential designs took place before they settled on the Heineken label? What conversations took place before that label ever touched the bottle?
Don't fall for the idea that everyone else's journey to an iconic product label is easy. That idea will only prompt you to start rushing, which can lead you to a design that looks too busy.
Make sure that you get multiple test versions printed out and applied. Everything looks different in person than it does on a computer screen!
Simple Design Requires Quality Partnerships
When it comes to a simple design, you need to find the right partner to handle labels and packaging. With the experience of working across industries with multiple partners, we've got exactly what you need!
We're well-versed in all types of label production and packaging. From eco-friendly, sustainable solutions to eye-catching labels, we've got you covered.
If you enjoyed this article and are looking for the best simple design for your brand, contact us today! We can help.