Your Spirit Label Questions Answered!

web80-qna-200We laughed, we cried – well mostly we just stared in giddy fascination during our most recent free webinar, “Designing Spirit Labels & Cohesive Brands,” as Sallie Reynolds Allen showed us how her Studio 32 North designs labels as intoxicating as the products they represent. But you still had questions, and Sallie graciously answered them right here. (Don’t forget to tip your webinar presenter generously 😉 )

Some of these bottlings were “small batch” and hand-signed labels, but I heard a 90,000 quantity at one point. Are these labels applied by hand or machine/ bottling line? Offset or flexo printing mostly?
90,000 quantity was in reference to a large run, for a number of the SKUs combined. The “small batch” quantities are much lower. Most of the labels are offset and a number of them are applied by hand. If you want to look at the production more closely, there are bottling line photos in the gallery images on the 35 Maple Street Spirits website.

For your projects, are you given a budget? With my work, we are always trying to produce the packaging as low cost as possible (which doesn’t allow for any of the handmade elements that you are able to incorporate).
There is a general rule of thumb in packaging to keep the costs to a percentage of the cost of the entire package, so that may differ from product to product. Basically, I research the materials and get the estimates. Based on those estimates, the designs are approved. Knowing the materials and the techniques, I usually can choose the most cost-effective way to produce. I don’t find the materials to be too expensive given the quantities that are being run.

Did you have to submit the tags for label approval federally? Can these be used instead of the label?
Everything that pertains to the package has to be submitted for Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) approval. For the rum bottles, the silkscreen was submitted as the label – the copy went around the circumference of the bottle. All TTB information was housed on the front and back of the bottle; the label copy was on the side.

Can we see the printer files with die lines?
Unfortunately, I am unable to share. The dielines are proprietary; not mine, but the client’s.

Do you have tips for managing a budget like this?
My goal is to keep designs quite minimalistic when it comes to decoration (stick with 1-2 color silkscreen + printing). I also work closely with the suppliers to get the best costs for the client. Knowing the techniques, I negotiate the best prices I can. I try to prioritize – keeping only one slightly more expensive item on the package, and I play down others around it.


sallie-reynolds-allen-125Sallie Reynolds Allen is the owner and creative director of Studio 32 North, a design firm located in San Diego that specializes in branding, graphic design and advertising. Since starting her career, she’s worked with numerous design firms and companies while garnering many accolades. Her work has been featured in Communication Arts, Graphis, the Type Directors Club, Luerzer’s, GDUSA, Print, How Magazine’s Outstanding Achievement, and the Addy’s. Allen’s design has also taken honors at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the International Spirits Challenge and the Craft Awards International Competition. She’s been published in numerous books on graphic design and prominently featured on Lovely Package, Packaging of the World and The Dieline.


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