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Design Tips for Stunning Shrink Sleeve Labels

| Shrink Sleeves

~ by Albert Sta. Maria, think4D Prepress & Design Coordinator

Shrink sleeve labels are an eye-catching way to package your product.  They allow for 360-degree coverage, which allows for maximum creative freedom!  However, designing a shrink sleeve label isn’t as simple as designing a traditional flat pressure sensitive label…it requires careful consideration to ensure your brand messaging is clear.  We’ve put together this handy tip sheet of essential things to remember when creating the most stunning shrink sleeve labels!

Understand the Materials and the Process – Shrink sleeves are generally made from materials like PET, PETg, or PVC (at think4D we use PET and PETg) that shrink when heat is applied.  Each material shrinks differently, so understanding each one and designing with the specific shrink rate in mind is crucial to making sure your graphics align properly once the label is applied.

Plan for Shrinkage – Because materials shrink differently, you need to remember that shrinkage causes distortion…especially around curves and edges.  Be sure to avoid putting important elements like text or logos in high-distortion areas.  There are computer programs that allow for distortion mapping, which simulates how your design will look after shrinking, or you can tap into the experts here at think4D to overcome this challenge.

Use Bold, Vibrant Colours and Embellishments – With shrink sleeve labels, you get full coverage so take advantage of this by using bright colours and embellishments that will catch the eye.  think4D has a wide range of embellishments like foil, glitter and more to add visual interest to your labels!  Remember to ensure that your colour choices can be accurately reproduced by your printer.

Leverage the 360-Degree Canvas – Use the full coverage to tell a story or create a dynamic visual effect that will engage customers from all angles.  Be aware of how the design flows around the entire product and how it will be viewed from different perspectives.

Incorporate Transparent Elements – Using transparent elements can add depth and sophistication to your design.  This works very well on clear containers because it allows customers to see what’s inside.  You’ll want to be strategic about where the transparency is used, as you don’t want the contents to overwhelm the design.

Focus on Readability – Where shrink sleeves allow for maximum design potential, readability should never be compromised.  Be sure that all text is legible, even when the label shrinks.  Larger fonts are best for key information but avoid overly intricate fonts that may become illegible after shrinking.

Embrace the Unique – Shrink sleeves conform to the shape of your container, making them the perfect label for unique shapes.  Design your label to enhance the shape of your product and create a cohesive look to command attention.  Consider how the label design will interact with the shape to create an eye-catching element to your design.

Highlight Functional Features – If your product or container has functional features like handles or spouts, why not incorporate them into your design?  Use graphics and elements to draw attention to these features and make them stand out, enhancing the useability of your product as well as adding a unique element. 

Test Your Design – Before you finalize your design, you’ll want to create prototypes to test how the label looks on the actual product.  This will allow you to see how the elements align and make any necessary adjustments.  It will also help identify potential issues with distortion or readability.  When you work with think4D on your design, we provide those prototypes for testing!

Work With Experienced Printers – This is an important step!  You’ll want to collaborate with printers who truly understand the finer details of shrink sleeve production and can ensure your final product meets your design expectations and maintains the highest quality.  Working with think4D, you’ll get all that!  We can help with material selection, colour accuracy, and distortion management…we’re like your one-stop shrink sleeve shop!

We’d love to hear about your project and help you get it off the ground!

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