Label Customization Guide

Everything you need to know about getting your label customized and on the bottle as quickly and efficiently as possible.

 

1. Pause... and Prepare

What's the secret to going from a digital label file to a beautifully labeled bottle on the shelf? There is no secret - just lots of preparation. It's working backwards through the process and anticipating the issues that might arise along the way.

That said, if you did not do so before purchasing one of my labels, now is the time to pause and consider the following:

Legal Review

Hire a legal professional to review the label for copyright infringements. I do my best to make sure I offer a unique product. However, in an industry flooded with brands, it's easy to understand how an original design can accidentally infringe on existing copyrights.

Review Bottling/Labeling Specs

Talk with your bottler and/or glass supplier to check the specifications of the glass and labeling machine and make sure the label will work for your needs.

Printing Considerations

If you already work with a label printer or will be printing in-house using a desktop label printer, double-check that the label design and/or size will work with whichever method you have chosen.

If you’ll be working with a commercial printer, I strongly suggest reaching out to them first to get ballpark printing costs. Show them the customized label you've purchased and ask them what you can do to spice it up and remain within your budget. That way you'll know exactly what customizations you want when you fill out the Label Customization Form.

Insider tip: If you plan on producing your labels at commercial printing facility, they might be willing to make the standard customizations (and perhaps special customizations too) to your label for a nominal fee or free of charge as part of securing your printing job. Doesn’t hurt to ask!

2. Gather Label Content

Label designs consist of both required and optional content. I have listed both to help you prepare the content needed to complete your label.

Required:

  • Brand Name

  • Vintage

  • Varietal/Type

  • Appellation of Origin

  • Bottling Statement

  • Alcohol Percentage

  • Net Contents (mL)

Optional:

  • Fanciful Name

  • Brand Story

  • Tasting Notes

  • Technical Details

  • UPC/Barcode

  • Winemaker signature

  • Photo of winery dog ;)

Please note: Some of the items listed above as 'required' may or may not actually be required due to your wine type and other details you include on the label (vintage, appellation, etc). But for simplicity, I listed the types of information that are typically required on most labels.

You can learn more about mandatory label information the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s website:
https://www.ttb.gov/wine/bam.shtml
https://www.ttb.gov/wine/wine-labeling.shtml

 

Label Details

  • Created using professional design software - Adobe Creative Suite, Photoshop and Illustrator

  • Design files provided in fully editable .ai. and .pdf formats as well as a text outlined version in .ai format

  • Print-ready (includes cutting die lines and bleeds)


  • Designed in CMYK (no spot colors) to allow for digital printing


  • Does not include special finishes (foil, emboss, spot varnish, etc) to allow for affordable printing

  • Designed to fit most bottle shapes, even low shouldered burgundy glass - front 4” x 3” and back 3.5” x 2.65”

  • Designed to conform to ALFD/TTB labeling regulations


  • Does not use stock artwork. Incorporates either original artwork, artwork that is in the public domain, or both

  • Does not use licensed fonts. Uses only MAC/PC system fonts and fonts that are free for commercial use

  • Back label includes attributions to RLOCreative and/or font designer. These attributions may not be removed from the label.

  • Purchase includes 1hr (remote) customization assistance

3. Choose your Designer

Once you've gathered your label content, it's time to get a designer involved. You can choose to hire your own designer or take advantage of the ONE hour of customization support that is included with your purchase. If you decide to hire your own designer, make sure they are at least moderately proficient in using Adobe Creative Suite software (specifically Illustrator and Photoshop).

If you've decided you'd like to have me customize your label (I hope so!) then head over to my website to complete the Label Customization Form. After you have completed the Label Customization Form and provided all the images/files I will need, I’ll get to work on the customization of your label. You can expect to receive a pdf proof of your customized label in 5-10 business days*.

If you would like to utilize my services, please note that the one hour of customization support only covers 3 things:

1. Standard label customization
- updating of legally required information (wine type, net contents, alc %, etc)
- adding/updating of optional content (barcode, fanciful name, tasting notes, etc)

2. One round of edits/corrections (if needed) after customer and compliance review. Additional rounds of edits (i.e. requested by the TTB during COLA process) are subject to an additional fee. That said, if corrections are needed due to an error on my part, I will happily work to correct the problem at no additional charge.

3. The creation of label images in .jpg format that will be required for a COLA (Certificate of Label Approval) application with the TTB. These will be included in a zip file along with the final, customized label artwork.

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* Please note, additional customization requests beyond basic label customizations will require a quote will delay and likely lengthen the customization process. A new delivery estimate will be included in the quote.

Examples of additional customizations NOT included with your purchase (but are available for a fee) include:

  • Label resizing, aesthetic changes to the design (shape, colors, fonts, images), or addition of special finishes (foil, embossing, spot varnishes, etc)

  • Additional rounds of edits/corrections

  • Printing/Technical Assistance

Should you require additional customizations to your label or other services, please explain in detail in the ‘Additional Services and/or Customization Requests’ section at the bottom of the Label Customization Form and be sure to attach any files I would need to fulfill that request. I will review your request(s) and get back to you with a quote (additional customizations are a minimum $150 charge). This quote will need to be approved and paid in full before services are performed.

As mentioned previously, many commercial printers can provide minor design editing services and would likely be more than happy to help you add special finishes to your labels. This actually might be a better and more affordable option if you are wanting additional customization and/or edits.

4. Review Design

Once the label has been customized per your instructions, I will provide you with a pdf proof of the customized design.

The purpose of the proof is twofold:

1. To review for accuracy (by you, the customer).
2. To review for TTB compliance by a compliance expert (or by you if you’re knowledgable on the subject).

While I am familiar with TTB labeling laws and have designed my customizable labels to adhere to current regulations (at time of creation), I am not a compliance expert. That said, I suggest you hire someone well-versed in wine labeling laws to review the label before it's submitted for a C.O.L.A. (Certificate of Label Approval).

The goal here is to save time, money, and stress by reducing the rounds of edits to just ONE. Additional rounds of edits are subject to a fee.

5. Apply for a C.O.L.A.

Once you have signed off on the proof, confirming the label is accurate as well as compliant, I will create separate jpgs of both the front and back label (which need to be included in your C.O.L.A. application). I will send you these label images as well as the final, customized, print-ready label artwork, in one single zip file.

6. Send to Print!

Once you have received a C.O.L.A. from the TTB, it is time to print.

All customizable labels are designed to make the printing process easy and affordable.

To keep your commercial printer happy and keep your print job at the top of the queue, I produced clean and easy to understand design files. Cutting (die) lines are included in the file as well as bleeds (when design extends off the edge of the label).

To keep printing costs low, I designed the labels in CMYK which allows for digital printing. I intentionally avoided including special finishes like embossing, foil, spot varnishes, etc in the designs because those can greatly increase costs.

That said, you are more than welcome to work with me or your printer to make your label more exciting and add on whatever bells and whistles you choose.

A few tips:

  • Printing is an art, not a science. Color shifts may occur. Depending on your monitor settings, the color you see on your computer screen may not exactly match what is printed.

  • It is important speak to your bottler or check the specs on your labeling machine to make sure you print the label accordingly (i.e. on sheets?, on rolls?, fronts and backs on separate rolls?, fronts and back side by side?, wind direction?, etc).

  • To get the best color coverage, it’s typically best to use a smooth paper stock.

  • To get the best vibrancy, it’s typically best to use a bright white paper stock.

  • To get the richest colors, it’s typically best to use a coated paper stock.

  • Consider printing on wet strength paper if your labels will be applied to wines that will need to be chilled.

  • Follow the guidance of your printer - they know best!

Optional Step 7. Show & Tell

Let me know how it turned out! If you’re game, send me a photo of your bottled and beautifully labeled wine! Better yet, if you’re feeling generous, I’d love to receive a sample or two of the printed label in the mail so I can display it on my website. Thanks!

Rachelle O’Brien
c/o RLOCreative
PO Box 6152
Napa, CA 94581