Years of consumer research shows that label design influences buyers’ expectations of a product, and consequently, their purchasing decisions. In fact, people’s perceptions of quality often mismatch the actual because of their subconscious responses to a label’s visual elements. That is why, in designing product labels, it is recommended that we give special attention to consumer attitudes toward label dimensions.

In this article, we give you a guide on choosing the right label shape for your product.

different label shapes

Brand Personality vs. Consumer Preferences

Startups and small business owners are often tempted to take the easy road, skipping research when determining what packaging to use. Most do not realize that the packaging design is a critical step in branding—a strategy that enables companies to endure for years—and the product label is an integral part.

How do you determine what visual elements appeal to your target market? 

For decades, manufacturers designed their packaging based mainly on function and cost-effectiveness. However, these trends have changed with the advent of FOMO advertising and social media. Nowadays, consumers warm up more toward companies that take pride both in product quality and brand personality.

And as consumer research will tell you, your label’s shape impacts your customers’ sentiments more than you know.

fear of missing out

Label Shapes Found in Different Industries

When it comes to label shapes, there’s not one that fits every business. Each figure conveys a different meaning in different industries. Choosing the wrong label shape for your product can literally give the wrong impression and ward off potential customers.

Below, we discuss the effects of label shapes on consumer perception and buying habits in various trades.

1.

Food and Most Beverages

In the food and beverage industry, consumers are likely to associate label shape with taste.

(a) Rounded Food Labels

Rounded food labels give the impression that the packaged food is sweet. They are perfect for candies, pastries and sweetened beverages.

(b) Angular Food Labels

Angular food labels, i. e. square and rectangular shapes, are more associated with sour, salty and bitter tastes. They are better for dark chocolate, bitter coffee blends, sour candies, salted vegetables and meat products.

2.

Alcoholic Beverages

The effect of label shapes on liquor buying habits is a widely studied subject. However, its impact is stronger in the winemaking industry than in beer brewery. For example, the label shape is more likely to influence a first-time wine buyer’s choice to complete a sale than the beverage’s country of origin. Wine neophytes also tend to infer price and quality from a label’s dimensions.

The Top Wine Label Shapes

A study posted on the American Association of Wine Economists’ website notes that the ellipse (oval), octagon and rectangle are the most appealing wine label shapes to first-time customers. Pairing them up with certain colors increases their attractiveness even more.

For example, an elliptical wine label is best colored in yellow. An octagonal tag is best printed in orange. Rectangles with angular corners are better off in yellow, but those with rounded edges are more attractive in blue.

Try These Shapes on Beer Drinkers   

For beer lovers, the bottle’s shape influences choices more than that of the label. In fact, the bomber is the most popular bottle type in this consumer bracket. It appears that this container’s curves are more attractive than the angular edges of a long neck. Meanwhile, a rectangular beer label has as much appeal as a round one.

product label shapes

3.

Cosmetics

Cosmetics buyers are visual creatures. Between two items sold at the same price point, the uniquely packaged cosmetic is more likely to entice consumers than the one that is not. However, this is not a license to create shocking designs. Your packaging and its label must still reflect your brand personality.

The product’s intended uses also have a bearing on cosmetic label shapes.

(a) Rectangular and Square Cosmetic Labels

Angular labels are more appropriate for cosmetic products with drug components. These shapes provide more space for product information, which consumers are eager to read when buying these goods.

(b) Round and Oval Cosmetic Labels

Rounded shapes are more associated with elegance and femininity, although these labels have less room for product information. They are better for cosmetic products without drug components.

(c) Cosmetic Labels with Combined Silhouettes

You can use other shapes for your beauty product labels so long as they do not blur the image you are trying to project. Also, remember that cosmetic labeling is highly regulated, so make sure that your labels have enough space for mandatory product information. Some of the sticker shapes found more commonly in this business than others are the star, heart and diamond.

4.

Scented Products

Scented products include bath products and perfumes. Label shapes in this category are strongly associated with scents and their olfactory appeal. It has been found that consumers are more likely to perceive round-labeled scented products as more pleasing than those with angular labels. The same goes for their packaging shapes.

5.

Pharmaceuticals and Chemicals

People buying these products expect loads of information and less art. Consequently, those with unconventional label shapes are viewed as having inferior quality. Angular labels are more commonly used on these goods than rounded ones.

(a) Rectangles and Squares

An overwhelming majority of the products in these categories have rectangular labels, followed by square ones. Both can contain much more information than their rounded counterparts. They are mostly used on bottles, boxes, pouches and blister pack back panels.

labels on pharmaceutical products

(b) Circles and Ovals

Rounded labels are less common in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries. You can find them mostly on ointment and cream canister lids. Still, if you prefer to use these shapes on your products, you may use a package insert to provide all the mandated information to your customers.

For more information on package labeling in these industries, you may read the following articles on the enKo Products website:

6.

Barcodes

Barcodes are either one-dimensional or two-dimensional.

One-dimensional barcodes are typically printed on rectangular labels. On the other hand, two-dimensional ciphers are found on either square or rectangular labels, depending on whether or not they are accompanied by other information.

However, these conventions are now changing owing to market influences on packaging design. It is now common for barcodes to be modified into different figures and printed in colors other than black. Additionally, other shapes—round, parallelogram, square, etc.—have also been used for creating barcode labels.

7.

Warning Labels

Warning labels come in various shapes. Except for the hazard symbols, there aren’t really any conventions for warning label shapes. However, studies show that precautionary signs printed on angular labels are taken more seriously than those on rounded ones. Rectangular, triangular and square warning labels are perceived as indicating a higher level of danger than circles and ovals. For more information on hazard symbols and safety labels, you may read our article on workplace safety labels.

Workplace Safety and Warning Labels

Just like any other packaging design element, there is no hard rule in choosing a label shape. Ultimately, your choice should depend on what you know about your target market. If you try a label shape considered unorthodox in your field, nothing stops you from getting feedback from your friends before using it on your final packaging design.

Lastly, whatever kind of label you need, remember that the enKo Products packaging and labeling experts are here to help.

Rounding It Up

The label is a vital part of the product packaging. Many of its visual elements are known to precondition buyers’ minds about a product’s quality before they even try it. And the label shape is one of those that have the most impact.

Each shape has a different meaning in every trade. A rounded label may have more appeal than an angular one when used on some products, but not on others. Your brand personality also determines how much freedom you can have in choosing a label contour. The shape that you choose must be appropriate for both product type and brand personality. However, you must never forget to take your customers’ preferences into account when crafting your label.

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