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Label Geeks deep in conversation about clear labels

By Helen Dugdale.
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Clear Labels – Seeing is ….. Well Frankly, Just Not Good Enough.

More brands are seeing the benefits of using clear no-look materials to create real shelf presence. Some like our featured label of the month, Cambridge Gin, use the clear material for more specific purposes, but in the main people are wanting to create the no-look affect. So, we thought it might be interesting to run through a few do's and don’ts with no-look labelling.

  1. Look at the colour of your bottle or jar and also the colour of your product. Is the bottle dark or light. If you have a dark bottle you are going to need contrasting colours if you want the label to be readable. You will also need to give some consideration to printing processes, digital and flexo processes use translucent inks which can look washed out when put on to dark products. This can sometimes be gotten around by under pinning colours with a white ink but not always. If you are not sure ask for some wet pulls, you will be charged an admin fee for these but they are well worth the expense. Only screen printing has the opacity to stand out on a dark bottle and screen printing has some limitations when it comes to printing pictures or imagery.
  2. It is very difficult to apply clear labels well by hand. Every time you touch the label you will leave a finger mark. These can be wiped off the outside but if on the adhesive they stand out like a sore thumb (did you see what we did there). Always try and apply the labels using an application machine. Little semi-automatic machines can be bought quite cost effectively and they will allow you to apply at up to 3 labels a minute.
  3. If you have a machine applicator make sure it is very, very clean. The clear material is either polypropylene or polyethylene. Both have a significant amount of static charge. That static will attract every piece of dust and dirt in the vicinity. The result is that you get small specs of dust under the adhesive; this then creates a bubbling and discoloration of the adhesive around it. Work areas and the machinery should be hoovered and dusted regularly. Ideally operators should wear overalls and hats. All the machinery should be properly earthed and anti-static tinsel should also be used on the label at the beak. It is also important that the bottle or jar is also clean as this can be another potential contamination area.
  4. Select the right carrier. Historically the carrier of materials has been a glassine material, normally a honey coloured paper with a heavy silicone coating on it so as to allow the labels to be applied. This is fine for paper labels and remains the most popular liner for the majority of uses and substrates. The only exception is clear labels; glassine is a paper material and while largely clean will still carry some of the paper dust with it when being applied. A far better solution is to use a PET liner. This will give you a crystal clear finish as the PET is completely flat as opposed to glassine that has a series of ridges in it that can be reproduced in the appearance of the adhesive when the substrate is transfered to the product. PET liners are also worth considering if you have a very fast line as they are less susceptible to breaking on the line, though if this is an issue there are lots of other things you can try first.

Clear labels can give your product a real kick but it comes with some issues, talk to your designer and involve your printer. They are the experts and should be willing to hold your hand through the process of developing your product.