Variations of a label design are important for several different situations, especially when starting a new brand or product line. Achieve these variations on the same style or concept in various ways, and learn what not to do. Most importantly, ensure you communicate the brand values through your visuals and have fun!
Why would there be variations in label design?
First and foremost, here are some reasons why you would need variations on the same concept.
This type of blanket design is often completed before a new product line is released, or a new brand sets up shop. Designers keep in mind where the line is going, how it fits into the overall brand aesthetic and how easy it is for an additional product to join the line later on. When designing whole product lines, consider which colors, shapes, graphics, and fonts will remain the same. Even create a branding document that communicates these rules with clarity for other parties, and for future reference.
When revamping an old design, or starting from scratch, gathering data is incredible. By testing various concepts with scientific precision, A/B testing mixes the creative with the practical to make better-informed decisions. So, find out which style, font, shapes, sizes, techniques, and colors draw attention. Then, move forward with choices receiving the most positive feedback. Either with a focus group or through unbiased purchase history.
Take an established design and transform it for holidays. Or, create an IRC (Instant Redeemable Coupon) that matches the overall brand aesthetic. Either way, it’s a variation on the standard label used for the brand. Or, it takes the brand and inserts it into a new context. For example, the above IRC uses familiar colors, graphics, and product photography to connect the coupon to the brand. Or, make the coupon aesthetically fit in with the standard packaging design.
Ways To Create Cohesive Variances
These are standard ways to take a design and change it for promotional labels, other items in the product line, or for testing.
Color speaks volumes about the product, and about the brand. For fragrant and flavor-based products, a color often refers back to the natural item it was made from. However, even still, the colors should fit together. If one product uses a muted color, the other products in the line need to use muted colors. If several products use cool tones, use cool tones for the rest of the line. The cohesive look makes each product fit together on-shelf, plus communicate and reinforce the message of the branding. Muted colors often help to imply that the brand is sophisticated, luxurious, or handcrafted. Neon would break that established implication.
There are so many innovative labeling techniques to choose from, but don’t get caught up in using different techniques for different products in the line. Instead, use the same techniques. If you have a foiled flower on one bottle, foil the flowers and main graphics on other products. If the product uses a Motion Coat pattern over the whitespace, use a different pattern on other products to make each item easier to identify. While color and pattern can both change, consider how it changes the product’s look. Does it still look like a cohesive range of products? If so, it’s an option. If not, remove one element, and keep things simple.
Product photography is incredibly important in creating professional looking packaging. It either works with making the design flow, or it works against the aesthetic. Color tones, subject matter, and environments all impact this portion of the label. First, color tones need to match, just as they do with color schemes. If most of the products in the line focus on animals, focussing on a patio set on another item will feel out of place. Keep things relatively consistent. Even the environment is key. Do most products in the line use studio photography? Don’t then use a shot of the product in an environment such as an office space, or outdoor landscape, on another product. It’s not that every picture needs to look like a replica of the previous one, but it’s that there are enough through lines that the images make sense paired together.
Rely on Company Branding as a Through-Line
When a brand releases a new packaging design, it’s important that something remains of the old. Take a look at the differences between the two R&D Labels. The size of the label, the brand logo, and the overall format remains the same despite a greyscale label turning into a photography based print. Even the main font changes, but the established positioning doesn’t. Many brands have made more significant changes than this, and use their branded logo colors as the through-line. Whatever it is, make it recognizable despite the significant differences.
Are bold, stylistic choices enough?
Let’s say your style is to have no style. Each item looks completely different from the last, which is something popularizing due to the advancements in digital printing. How do you create consistency without any established color schemes, graphics, photography, or branding? Well, it’s simpler than it seems. Establish consistency with other elements. The label size, the logo used, and even the label stock itself. Make other elements so recognizable that no matter what it looks like, customers will identify the product as one in a series.
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