The Difference Between Labels & Stickers

The Difference Between Labels & Stickers

Chances are that when you think of stickers you think of stuff like this…

wall of stickers

Or even the stickers applied to a student’s A+ homework. Something fun or cheap with the purpose of sticking it to random objects. Stickers don’t need any special considerations.

So, what do you see on top of these nail polish bottles? Stickers or Labels?

Nail polish labels

If you answered sticker, think again. While these labels are small and display minimal information, they are a part of the products’ packaging. They convey a brand message and communicate the products’ names, plus, they need to be durable. So, this is a label.

Labels come in all shapes and sizes. Some are minimalistic, displaying a small amount of imagery or information if any. If it has been created for a brand to be used on packaging, it is a label.

Other ways to determine whether it is a sticker or a label:

  • Only consists of an image
  • Does not come attached to a product
  • Does not adhere to packaging information requirement standards
  • Promotional giveaways intended for personal use
  • Displays industry information such as
    • GMO information
    • Cruelty-free logos
    • Nutritional information
    • Safety symbols
    • “Made in” or “grown in” country location information
  • Displays a brand name
  • Displays a title, or name of the product
  • Convey the location in which the product was made
  • Come in a variety of label stocks such as thick wine stock and clear film stock
  • Uses innovative labeling techniques
  • Uses of smart labeling technologies

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Digital Vs. Flexographic Printing

If labels are printed on a flexographic press, does that mean stickers are printed on a digital printing press? Not necessarily. So, let’s clarify why there is a difference between the two processes.

Let me first give you a quick overview of the flexographic and digital printing processes.

The flexographic press uses plates to imprint the design onto the label stock with ink. A digital printer uses inkjet or lasers to print the image onto the label stock. The processes are different, but they both result in the same product. Labels are created using both the flexo and digital press. Stickers and labels aren’t different because of how they’re made, they’re different because of what they’re used for.

How can using the correct terminology impact my business?

Searching for information on labeling options is a lot easier to find when you aren’t looking for stickers on Google. Even if you aren’t ready for advanced design options such as labeling innovations or smart labeling technology, it’s important that you understand what the industry has to offer and how you can develop your packaging. Stickers don’t often use foiling, embossing or other innovative techniques. Labels do. When developing your product line, put your best foot forward.

Labels are constructed to be durable, long-lasting, and high quality. Represent your brand with the best packaging options designed to last while your customers use your product. While stickers are not created to withstand heat, water, ice or UV light, labels are. The perfect example of this is our WetStick label which uses advanced adhesive chemistry. It’s so effective at water resistance that it can be applied underwater. A sticker doesn’t need to even be moisture wicking.


Does Great Lakes Label offer bumper stickers?

All that being said, Great Lakes Label has the capability of creating bumper stickers. This is the only exception to our rule. Bumper stickers do require the durability that we offer for labels, including water resistance. You’ll also see that with the below sticker, it is peeled off from the center, unlike standard stickers for kids. This example is a little more complex of an order than with standard stickers, making it ideal to be printed with a company who can offer a durable, unique product.

Dupont Bumper Stickers by Great Lakes Label
Dupont Bumper Stickers by Great Lakes Label

If you are interested in receiving samples in order to see the difference, fill out this form.


Okay, fine. I understand the differences better now, but why is this a pain point?

We work hard to bring you a quality product. From offering the latest innovative labeling techniques and smart labeling technologies to GS1 traceability and sustainable stocks. On top of this, our certifications, LEAN practices, and industry recognition guarantee our expertise. We focus in on providing the best product out there so you can feel confident we have top-notch labels you can count on. Not stickers.

It’s not that we don’t understand that word slips happen. We do. In fact, we do it ourselves from time to time. It happens.

Instead, this post is to clarify the difference between the two products so you can create impactful packaging your customers will love. If you’re looking to order stickers, we are not a good fit for your needs. Instead, we will be here when you are ready to order the best labels out there for your product.

So, I now know I want to order labels. What are my next steps?

When you are starting a new project like this, it is important to first understand the industry requirements for your product. Your designer will know what requirements these are. If you are designing the label yourself, use our in-house design team to look over your work and get it up to industry standard. We also have some helpful blogs you can review before getting started to help you on your way.


Learn more about labeling basics and discover the right solution for your brand when you download our e-book, The Label Project Guide.


Label Project Guide E-Book Download

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