It’s official: the box is more of a draw than the gadget inside. Packaging, label and barcode industry expert explains what manufacturers need to consider

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As a recent study confirms what many parents have long suspected – that children have more fun playing with cardboard boxes than with the pricey toys that come inside them – industry expert Brian Jackson reveals what successful Christmas packaging looks like to consumers.

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With Christmas coming the packaging industry is affected, as many of its customers and clients are, by the weather.

“With Christmas coming the packaging industry is affected, as many of its customers and clients are, by the weather,” says Brian Jackson of South East Labels ( “This year the trend we’re seeing is very much one of nostalgia, probably on the back of the Jubilee and the increased interest in the glamour of yesteryear. The challenge is for manufacturers to channel this vibe while employing modern production methods to increase durability and appealing features.”

As an important part of any packaging, it’s not surprising that labels that adhere to good design principles help products sell better. These, says Jackson, are:

1)    Staying put.
Staying stuck is the first consideration for labels, ahead of aesthetics. “We are required to produce products that can withstand torrential rain, high winds, frost, sub-zero temperatures and snow,” said Brian. “And it’s not just the label that needs to be protected but the surface of whatever it is to be adhered to. It is no good having a fully weatherproof face on the label if the adhesive fails in cold and wet conditions.”

Packagers can choose from a huge range of adhesives, from standard permanent and peelable to specialist and cryogenic adhesives, which can withstand temperatures down to almost -200oC.

2)    Saving face.
The second step is to identify a suitable material for the face of the label. For wintry outdoor conditions only synthetic materials can be used.

South East Labels utilise three main types of synthetic materials: polypropylene, polyethylene and polyester. Polypropylene is a good all-rounder that can be applied in most outdoor situations. Polyethylene is the most pliable of the three, with a natural elasticity that makes it great for uneven or curved surfaces (such as bottles). Polyester is the most specialised material of the three, suitable for extreme temperatures from 200oC to -200oC.

3)    A splash of colour.
Printed labels often need additional protection. Black and white labels that will be printed on using a thermal transfer ribbon will require a resin ribbon, which produces tough, weather-resistant print that won’t scratch or smudge.

Some manufacturers choose to print their own labels, and it can be difficult to get complete protection using a thermal transfer ribbon. “We have a couple of tips to help customers increase the resistance of their labels,” says Brian. “But they can be fiddly. We can also offer customers a clear, resin, varnish ribbon. This excellent product allows you to apply a protective coating to your label, which is printed as normal.”

For full-colour, professionally produced labels there are many options for additional protection, including ‘screen’ or ‘flexographical printing’.

4)    Under cover.
The final step is to choose an appropriate protective coating. Options include laminating (thermally adding a tough, clear synthetic), adding a protective varnish (cheaper but not as durable as laminate) and adding a 3D ‘dome’, made from resin that sets into a hard clear case, over the label. The label within this 3D resin or ‘bubble’ badge enjoys the ultimate protection.

About South East Labels

For more than 20 years South East Labels have been supplying labels and barcode labels and labelling systems to a wide variety of industries. We are well-equipped to provide fast turnaround times, continuity of supply and everything else you need to meet your label and label printing requirements.

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Christian Godden
South East Labels
+44 (0)1798 873738
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