The Importance of Labels, Part 1

In addition to working full time in the graphics department here at Majestic Mountain Sage, I also work weekends at a “big-box” bookstore. Both for the discount as well as an easier ability to keep up on what’s new in books and music. I’ve realized something after working there for several years. You know that old saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, it’s not true. You can judge a book by its cover, and people (especially booksellers!) do it all the time. Publishing companies actually budget tens of thousands of dollars every year just for awesome book cover designs, because they know that the right cover will reach out and grab you when you browse the bookstore shelves.

So, how do thousand-dollar book covers relate to making and selling soap? What does shelf appeal have to do with homemade cosmetics and gifts? It’s all about the packaging. Chances are, if you’re selling soap that you’ve made with care and attention to every detail, it’s because you know it works. If you enjoy giving away homemade lotion or lip balm to friends and family, it’s because you know it’s made from the finest ingredients possible. But how can you make sure that your customers, or your friends and family know that as well? Repeat the answer with me: it’s all about the packaging.

Many of you know, from selling at farmers’ markets and craft fairs, what it’s like to sit behind a table of products you’ve spent long hours creating… only to watch people walk past your booth with barely a glance down. You need something that will make every person who glances want to stop and pick up your soap. You need something that will grab people’s interest, and say all of the wonderful things you would say about your own products if you had a half-hour and you weren’t so dang modest. What is that something, you ask? Yep. You guessed it: it’s all about the packaging.

At first glance, it’s easy to underestimate the importance of packaging, especially here in America, where we throw so much of it away daily. But the emotional and psychological impact of packaging on consumers make it one of the most valuable tools for selling your product and your brand. Even handmade items that are given away as gifts are more meaningful (and appear much more valuable!) when the packaging is as lovely as the present inside.

As small business owners and hobby soap makers, custom printing directly on your plastic and paper packaging just isn’t an option financially. Which means you probably order bottles, jars, and tubes from your favorite supplier (I really hope it is us here at TheSage.com), and then complete the packaging with your own label. If you’re thinking, “Ew, custom labels look so tacky,” then you haven’t been introduced to the right labels. Our very own printer here at MMS makes labels that look every bit as professional as department store packaging, and they offer more possibilities for making every product you sell simply, beautifully, and distinctively yours.

So what makes a good label? I’d like to break it down in a few posts throughout this week, and Andee has helped us cook up a graphics department blog giveaway at the end. We’ll look at branding and design (love it or hate it, but you can’t escape it), examples of good and not-so-good labels, and even get your input as we entirely revamp our own custom label designs.

Stay tuned!

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