Functions of Labeling: Why is Labeling Important?
Labeling is immensely important in today’s world.
Think about how many major brands and products are recognized just from looking at branding labels, or how a single label can make a product stand out from the crowd and attract attention. Miller Zell Conducted a Study showing that 60% of shoppers brand choices occur at the time of purchase.
Safety/Warning and instructional labeling are another important role for labeling as is tracking and traceability, and authentication, just some of the many functions of labeling.
In this guide, we set out to explore the importance of labels.
What Is Labeling?
Let’s begin with the basics: what is labeling? Simply stated, labeling is the process of applying labels to a product with the intended use of providing “data” to an end user. The data provided depends primarily on a particular label’s role.
What Must You Include in Your Label? Depends on its role.
We’ve seen why the label is important, but what should you actually put on your labels? This depends on the products that you’re labeling and who you’re trying to sell to. Consumable products are as titled. They are commodity products intended to be used and discarded quickly. Durable products on the other hand are intended to last 3 years or more yielding utility over time.
For this discussion, we are primarily speaking of durable products and their labeling needs which could include either one or multiple of the following:
Role #1: Brand Labeling
Ever heard of Simon Sinek? He wrote a book called “Start With Why.” With regards to Brand labeling, it really is the million-dollar question. It’s a company’s WHY that helps them know HOW their brand will accomplish selling WHAT it is they want to sell.
The WHY ultimately shapes a company’s objectives to bolster its Brand Identity, Brand Image, Corporate Identity, and the Name and Logo they choose to go to market with. Brand labeling is something a company wants to have remained with its product during its existence to not only serve as a bragging right for current customers but to drive new prospects their way simultaneously.
Role #2: Safety/Warning or Informational Labeling
Safety, warning, and purveying information are another way labeling is used to provide data to end users. Think of parents strapping their children into car seats or highchairs, an electrician accessing an electrical pedestal, or water sports enthusiasts climbing onto a kayak for the very first time.
Safety, warning, and informative labeling provide important and necessary information regardless of the product and typically needs to remain with the product throughout its life span.
Role #3: Track/Traceable Labeling
Companies sometimes have a need to track and trace products through their life cycle. For this type of labeling to provide useful data, the label must remain with the product during its intended useful life. Should intended or unintended separation of this label occur with the product, the results can be both costly and detrimental to a company’s operations.
Take an Amazon® distribution center for example. A yellow, reusable tote with barcode labels circulating through the center gathering products for shipment must at a moment’s notice be scanned by robots to both know its location and where it needs to land while seeing what products are on board with it. Should the barcode label fail or fall off, all of that data goes missing and costs ensue.
Role #4: Authentication Labeling
Counterfeiting is an issue. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as of August 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had made almost 17,000 seizures of counterfeit goods worth an estimated $2.4 billion. Not only do counterfeits cost Brands millions each year, but they also pose a safety risk to end users.
In the Automotive Industry alone, counterfeit airbags play a pervasive role in autobody shops where cheaper knockoffs pay more with insurance claims. These airbags however are not OEM rated which poses a serious risk to consumers while adding major costs to these OEM Brands who try to figure out what is real and what is fake.
Like Track/Traceable labeling, authentication labeling must be integrated into the final product so that it cannot be either intentionally or unintentionally separated from the product. In other words, it must be permanently attached in a way that makes removal impossible.
What Type of Labeling Method Should Be Used?
While there are several methods available to label durable goods, there are a few factors to help determine which is best for a specific duty with durable products. Those factors include:
- Does the label need to be permanent?
- What material is the product made from and what’s its surface energy?
- What’s the best label method for that product material based on the above?
Products made from high surface energy (strong attraction to adhesion) materials such as metals, glass, and composites have several labeling options available that can be considered permanent.
Products made from low surface energy (strong rejection to adhesion) materials such as polyolefin thermoplastics (polyethylene, polypropylene, and more) don’t have the options available that could be considered permanent.
Polyolefin thermoplastics make up the largest type of plastic used in the world today for durable products used across several industries. From trashcans to kayaks, water tanks to automotive components, lawn mowers to pallets, and much more that are utilized on a daily basis.
The low cost and premium durability make these plastics one of the most desirable for the manufacture of durable products. Yet, these same durable properties make them nearly impossible to label long-term since the chemical makeup more closely resembles Teflon® than other plastics.
Here are some examples of the most commonly-used methods:
- Adhesive Labeling – Adhesive labeling is one of the simplest methods, involving labels being stuck to products and surfaces. Successful application and longevity depend on the surface energy of the product material.
- In-Mold Labeling – With this method, the bottom construction layer of the label bonds during the molding phase to help it integrate more into the product. Top layers however are standard meaning incompatibility with polyolefin thermoplastics can still be a problem.
- Hot Stamp – Hot stamping or foil stamping is a method in which pre-dried ink is transferred onto a surface with the aid of high temperatures. Incompatible inks and high-temperature adhesives do not lend themselves to a strong bond with polyolefins.
- Heat Transfer – A method that involves the use of high temperatures to apply labels to surfaces. Incompatible inks and high-temperature adhesives do not lend themselves to a strong bond with polyolefins.
- Polymer Fusion Labeling – This is a state-of-the-art method that uses molecular fusion technology to fuse permanent labels and markings onto polyolefin plastics.
The Benefits of Polymer Fusion Labeling
Polyfuze labeling is one of the best techniques for permanent label application to polyolefin thermoplastics, offering the following advantages:
- Truly permanent due to total compatibility with polyolefin thermoplastics.
- Permanent Branding, Safety/Warning or Informative, Track and Traceability, Authentication, and more labeling available.
- Minimal waste and scrap for improved sustainability over other “adhesive-based” or “bond” methods.
- A highly cost-effective method with great value for money
- Strong, long-lasting labels that won’t wear away in extreme conditions
- Versatile to work with a huge range of polyolefin thermoplastics like PE, PP, TPV, TPO, TPE, EVA, and more. Also works with PVC.
Contact our experts if you want to learn more about polymer fusion labeling.
Labeling Can Make or Break Any Business
As we can see, labeling is of the utmost importance in terms of marketing products, making sales, keeping customers warned and/or informed, tracking and tracing products, authenticating products, and complying with the law. If you want to ensure that your business grows and evolves in the right ways, it’s vital to understand and invest in high-quality labeling that only Polyfuze can provide.