Canadian Packaging

How shrink sleeve labels are helping overcome design challenges

Shrink sleeve labels can help your product stand out on the shelf and overcome design challenges posed by highly contoured containers, but it’s important to work with experienced labeling professionals.


March 28, 2017
by Resource Label Group senior director of marketing Kevin Frydryk

As a consumer, you see shrink sleeve labels on containers you purchase and use every day. The shrink sleeve label’s ability to conform to the container shape, and provide printed label graphics and content over a larger area of the full container, make it increasingly popular labeling choice for consumers and consumer goods companies alike.

Chances are, you’re seeing more and more of them on the shelves of your local grocery store. And that’s likely making those shelves a lot more eye-catching.

Finding the right fit with shrink sleeve labels
Whether its eye-popping color or intricate designs, shrink sleeve labels are capable of approaching the level of artwork. With the right software and the right design professionals, shrink sleeve labels make products in any market stand out.

From a container design standpoint, shrink sleeve labels deliver significant aesthetic advantages. The ability to utilize full-container decorating is one such benefit. This makes significantly more real estate available to convey the information you think your customer should know or that the USFDA (United States Food & Drug Administration) mandates they know. Since the sleeve label can often cover the complete container, the entire package is available for product graphics and branding, giving your marketing department more space to convey key brand messaging.

Having the entirety of the container available for labeling information also prevents manufacturers from relying on other, potentially less aesthetically pleasing labeling techniques. Small print and cluttered label design can be effectively addressed through use of the added space provided by use of a shrink sleeve label.

They also make possible a range of functional label features that, with other label types, might cause manufacturers to pursue less attractive options. Shrink sleeves can be designed to accommodate tamper-evidence features, for instance, or designed for product multi-packs and with added promotional elements for on-shelf display.

Development of new enhanced shrink sleeve materials also opens options for container shape.  Materials with controlled shrink rate, and higher shrink levels enable effective label decoration of more complex shapes. Trigger spray bottles often used in household cleaning applications are a particularly common example of a marriage of a complex container shape with a compelling shrink sleeve label design.  Today, the range of available shrink sleeve materials opens the use of shrink sleeve labeling to ever widening range of contoured containers.

Design considerations for shrink sleeve labels
Effective label design requires specific software technology and trained design staff to optimize label appearance, and to avoid design problems in the layout of artwork on the shrink sleeve. Designers must compensate the graphics for the level of shrink depending on location of graphics on the bottle. Design elements placed on a narrow portion of the bottle must be compensated to account for the large amount of shrink.

Without proper location of graphics and text and integration of the label seam into the label design, or without the proper placement on to the container, serious design flaws could result. The final “lay-flat” size of the completed sleeve is also a critical step to ensuring effective placement and overall appearance of the applied, finished label.

Experienced label designers should work closely with the brand’s packaging team to help ensure proper size, seam placement and graphics compensation for design elements to ensure the label achieves the intended look after shrink. Unexpected and potentially unattractive results can be avoided by working with designers that have experience with sleeve technology.

Working with a label expert can also insure selection of the proper shrink sleeve material for your container design and label application equipment. Proper material selection is an important step in avoiding processing inefficiencies and ensuring smooth packaging operations.  The right material choice will also ensure that the label shrinks right and provides the appearance necessary to drive product sales to your customer.

So, while shrink sleeve labels can help your product stand out on the shelf and overcome design challenges posed by highly contoured containers, it’s important to carefully choose the labeling professionals you work with using this solution.

Author bio
Kevin Frydryk is the senior director of marketing for Resource Label Group. Frydryk has more than 25 years of management experience working with converters and brand owners on material specification in the flexible packaging and labeling industries. He leads market and business development at Resource Label Group, a full-service label manufacturer with locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. Company information available at www.resourcelabel.com/shrink-sleeves.