Guide to branding, packaging and labelling your product

Tips on making sure your product is presented properly and retail-ready

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Branding is a vital process for businesses. It is crucial that your brand stands out from the crowd, so investing time and money into research and planning is necessary for its development. Start off by discussing ideas with your business partner, any industry contacts or even friends and family.

For start-up businesses, funds can be very tight so hiring a branding agency may be off the agenda. However, using an outside consultant to develop your brand is sometimes the most effective way to come up with a stand-out brand that works.

James Watt who founded beer-brand BrewDog, emphasises the importance of investing in your brand because it is the most valuable and powerful aspect of your business. It is as important as investing in a good IT system because branding is the outside face of your business.

Hiring a local agency rather than a large agency will probably be more convenient, not to mention more cost effective, and will allow for more face-to-face meetings to discuss your product. This personal interaction with an outside consultant is invaluable for the development of your brand and it's important to communicate clearly your exact aims and objectives.

Similarly, you must be clear about what you don't want from the beginning to avoid having to change things at a later date. Local agencies may offer cheaper deals and might even be persuaded to work initially for a smaller payment, with the hope of securing larger payments later on when the business kicks off. Fraser Doherty, who founded jam company SuperJam, was able to convince a local design agency to work with him for a small fee when he was starting out. He says they agreed to this because they believed SuperJam would be a big success, therefore they would benefit further down the line from repeat business, which was evidently a good call on their part. Be sure to shop around and look at a few agencies before deciding on one, ensuring you find the best value and most suitable consultant for your business. Try to find someone with a background in or good understanding of your industry, because their expertise will be a valuable asset.

Read on for packaging and labelling tips…


Packaging can get very complicated and it requires a lot of thought and planning. Always allow enough time to package your products properly. Neil Westwood, who set up Magic Whiteboard, recalls that they re-designed their packaging several times before deciding on the final one.

Think about your target retailers and how they will display your product, bearing in mind that they will want it to occupy as little space as possible in their store. Size and shape are paramount, as well as the positioning of the handle and the labels. Neil suggests getting some boxes mocked up before ordering thousands of them, so you can assess the packaging properly. These mock-ups can also be shown to buyers who may give you feedback on what needs to change and what works well.

Grace Foder believes that it's well worth the investment of hiring a product development director, or an outside consultant. Getting your brand right is absolutely essential and the packaging is the most important tool to generate sales, as it is the first thing potential customers will see. A local printing business can help create the labels and packaging, possibly at a lower price than a larger printing company but bear in mind costs will be vary according to the size of your order, and bulk buying discounts may not be available if you only want a few prototypes. It might also be worth approaching a small design agency to help as they should have a large array of contacts in the field.


When deciding on labels for your product, there is no substitute for basic market research. Look at your competitors and other products on the market and try to gauge what works and what doesn't. Businesses often underestimate the significance of a label and the effect it can have on sales, so be sure that the one you go for really is the right one for your product, because last minute changes can be costly. Simon Duffy, who co-founded Bulldog Natural Grooming, likes to think of the supermarket shelf as his billboard. It's a place to show off your product, so make the most of this opportunity by creating original and imaginative labels.

The label must reflect your brand and its proposition. A clear and simple label will help your product stand out on the shelf, which is the ultimate aim, bearing in mind shoppers often don't have much time to browse.

Grace Foder from Jemma Kidd Make Up School warns of the dangers of labels becoming too convoluted. She says they must be clean, simple and to the point. However, while labels should be uncomplicated, make sure that nothing is missed out in the wording, as this will be extremely pricey and burdensome to correct.

There are various legal requirements to bear in mind, such as including ingredients for food items or cosmetic products, as well as the period after opening date, or use-by date. Remember that you'll also need to leave a space for a barcode, and you might want include a Euro hook if you are thinking of selling elsewhere in Europe.


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