Digital label printing is a huge opportunity for your brand and, to take it a step further, your entire company. And now is the time to seriously consider how you could leverage it to the fullest extent.
To be clear, we’re not claiming digital is a replacement for flexo. Conventional flexographic label printing is far from obsolete — in many cases, and for many applications, flexo is by far the better choice due to speed and cost considerations.
But there are some very compelling reasons for you to look into digital technology for at least some of your labeling needs, and they all come back to four distinctive features of digital label presses:
- Virtually no press setup is required, and small run sizes are possible
- Pre-press tolerances for imagery and text aren’t as demanding
- Label-by-label variation is possible
- No plates are needed
These features, and the opportunities they present, have the potential to create value for your brand in several clear, tangible ways:
- Get extremely consistent, high-quality printed graphics, with a wide range of reproducible colors
- SKU proliferation means smaller label orders and higher per-label costs — digital printing combats this
- Make a splash on the shelf with unique promotions that were not previously possible
- Prevent counterfeiting and protect your brand image with heightened label security features
- Reduce inventory costs and risk with on-demand label printing
- Expand your packaging sustainability message — digital presses reduce label manufacturing waste by as much as 96% when compared to traditional printing methods
Let’s break each of these opportunities down one by one.
Quality and consistency of graphics
For decades, digital press manufacturers have worked nonstop to improve the reliability, speed and print quality of their presses. Problems with image consistency and color management are a thing of the past — and, today, the print quality of digital printing even surpasses that of conventional printing.
Digital printing doesn’t require any plates, and all colors are printed at the same time, eliminating the need for image trapping and allowing for near-perfect registration. With digital printing, tight image and text tolerances are no longer the limiting factor in your label design. Complex, lifelike designs that would pose a serious challenge using conventional printing can be effortlessly brought to life on digital presses.
The proof is in the printed graphics:
Today’s digital presses also have extended gamut printing capabilities, meaning that they use 7 process colors (CMYKOGV) instead of just 4 (CMYK). 7-color printing can reproduce a wider range of Pantone and brand colors than the standard CMYK process, and in brighter, more vivid detail.
Crisp, clear, consistent graphics and color matchings top the list of label requirements for brand owners in practically every industry, and digital presses deliver.
Combat the cost of SKU proliferation
There are more SKUs now than ever, as brands have released new product lines and more flavors to better accommodate the changing tastes of consumers. And, using flexographic printing technology, more SKUs mean more label variations, smaller run sizes and higher per-label costs.
Digital presses help combat this problem.
With their variable data printing capabilities, each individual label in a run can have different graphics and information. That means you can group label orders for multiple SKUs (provided they require the same label dimensions) into one, larger run, and save on your overall labeling costs.
Your imagination is the only limiting factor with your promotions
The groundbreaking Share-a-Coke campaign opened the world’s eyes to the promotional possibilities of digital printing. Each label carried a different name or phrase — and consumers took joy in seeing their own names emblazoning the popular red can.
Following Coca-Cola’s lead, countless brands have launched promotions that wouldn’t have been possible without digital printing. Consider Planters’ 100th birthday promotion, Bud Light’s 200,000 completely unique cans and Nutella’s own name-based campaign.
What can your brand achieve through digitally printed promotional labels?
Prevent counterfeiting and protect your brand image
As you know, each counterfeit good that’s sold is a threat to a legitimate brand’s profits, reputation and customers. And while this threat isn’t new, the severity is mounting. The Global Brand Counterfeiting Report projected counterfeiting will grow to $1.82 trillion in 2020 — a $600-billion increase from its 2017 size.
That’s a lot of counterfeit goods.
Digital printing — with its small type tolerances and the possibility of label-by-label variation — can make it harder to counterfeit your product, and help you add covert protection features that will help you authenticate your products in the supply chain.
Digital press platforms are capable of incorporating a variety of highly secure features into your label, including:
- Micro text – HP digital presses can print as small as 0.7-point text, allowing you to add authentication text which is only visible under magnification.
- Digital watermarks – You can overlay variable watermarks on your label, which will be visible only to a digital scanner. Theoretically, the watermarks could be different on every label.
- Secure QR codes – You can print a QR code with a hidden image on top, which will not appear if copied.
The more complex your label is, the harder it is to successfully counterfeit, and adding a mixture of overt and covert features like these protects your brand image — and your customers.
Reduce inventory costs and risk
With virtually no setup involved with digital label printing, small run sizes are cost-effective and quick turnaround times are possible. That opens up on-demand label printing as an option, giving brands another way to combat the risk of ordering too few (or too many) labels.
Digital printing allows you to order what you need, when you need it. You no longer have to stockpile a year’s worth of labels, and you can respond more flexibly to evolving demand during emergency situations.
Ordering on-demand not only eliminates risk — it also reduces waste and cuts costs. Three in 10 brands destroy more than 25% of their packaging each year, according to the IDC Package Print Multi Client Study.
Expanding your packaging sustainability message
Claiming your packaging is “sustainable,” “green” or “responsible” is just lip service if you don’t have specific facts to back up your claims.
Digital press manufacturers know this and have designed their press to deliver on packaging sustainability promises for the brands and converters that make use of their technology.
For evidence of this, look to the HP Indigo digital printing press platform.
These presses are manufactured in accordance with ISO 14001, a rigorous certification that organizations can voluntarily earn to prove their commitment to analyze, measure and improve their overall environmental impact.
All their inks are designed with environmental responsibility in mind, with an ingredients list which excludes all harmful chemicals listed under California Proposition 65. And their inks can easily be removed from paper facestocks prior to recycling.
All of these factors, in addition to selecting responsibly sourced label materials, could be a key part of your packaging sustainability message.
Seize the opportunities of digital label printing
Digital printing is more than just an option for how to print your labels — it’s a huge opportunity for your brand to capture value, minimize risk and craft a sustainability message. This is the year your brand should consider how it will leverage digital printing, along with conventional printing technologies, to get the most out of your label spend.
Interested in starting a conversation about the unique opportunities for your brand? Reach out to our team today. With an experienced team and a massive digital printing footprint, we’re uniquely poised to help you get the most out of digital printing technology.