Industrial Labeling Solutions Gone Wrong

What’s Wrong With This Picture? – Clear and Effective Industrial Labeling Solutions in the Workplace

Notice anything off in the images in this blog post? These were all taken at a local home improvement store and each help to highlight some of the weaknesses of home made labeling products. These are just a few of the types of confusing and poorly made signage you might see on a daily basis. Some of the errors are glaring, obvious, and cringe-worthy blunders, while others are decidedly smaller. That said, even smaller problems often read to readability issues which can translate to poor efficiency and search times among workers, or a difficult to navigate or unprofessional looking space for customers. In either way, no one in these pictures is putting their best foot forward. Let’s take a look at labels and how these poor ones could be improved.

Industrial Labeling Solutions Gone Wrong – Upside Down

In this image, attention to detail has gone out the window and we’ve got a sign that is completely upside down. As it looks as if these labels are all backroom/internal stocking numbers for use by employees, this business was just might have been lucky enough to avoid customer eyes finding their embarrassing error. That said, employees looking for what should easily read “10590” are going to have a tough time finding what they’re looking for. This kind of lack of attention to the little things is just a bit silly, and may be indicative of a larger disregard for detail. The label itself, being marked in thin handwriting, is also not great for visibility. A real, printed label can utilize the space with lettering that is not only clearer but also more visible from a distance.

Industrial Labeling Solutions Gone Wrong – Aisle Labeling

At a glance, these aisle labels may look alright: they do appear to be printed, and as we might be looking at the aisles from the back of a warehouse or store rather than the front, ‘M’ coming to the left of ‘L’ isn’t necessarily a mistake. So, what seems to be the big deal? Well for one, you should keep in mind that we’re looking at a cropped image. If one were to view the whole picture outside from behind a lens, they’d notice that these labels simply get lost in the backgrounds of their respectively and cluttered aisles. From far away, spotting the M and L aisles would be a pain, even though they appear to be on 8.5 x 11 inch paper. Much of this is due to their placement. If these labels were placed higher than their current chest-height orientation and out on the outer most bars, they would likely be much easier to find and make use of. Furthermore, if this is a client-facing store aisle, prints outs placed inside of a hole-punched binder sleeve look tacky and cheap. Managers shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that a store in the stereotypically male home-improvement market absolves them from an obligation to keep their stores looking streamlined and professional.

Industrial Labeling Solutions Gone Wrong – Hand written Labeling

Aside from not being upside down, we’ve taken a step back in this picture and are back to the abysmal hand-written labels seen in the first image. Additionally, given the layout of the products, there’s little doubt that this is a sign that customers see on their visits to the store. Yikes. This label has the added problem of being in even smaller writing that the others, and due to its being handwritten, can’t make great use of label space – what could have product names, details, pricing, and barcodes instead has a generic “LADDERS” readout accompanied by two different sized arrows.
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Labels, Meet Your Maker

In any of these cases, the situation could have been vastly improved by simply having the right industrial labeling solution and making a real label with a professional industrial label maker (like this one). In fact, in many cases this is nearly as quick as handwriting the label in the first place. If you’re a mom and pop store from a century ago, you might be able to get away with handwriting your labels, as that isn’t likely to be the case, keep in mind that…

More Detail Is Always Preferable: The last image being a prime example, labels in shops, whether used for your own stocking purposes or for customer-facing displays, should be detailed. The work time you’ll save by avoiding customers asking questions that could be easily answered by a label will add up over time, and a worker unsure if a ladder has a certain feature or not, or having to shift an item around in order to get at a bar code is just a waste of their time. These details can be made upfront. Furthermore, plenty of customers might be shy about engaging an employee on a certain question they may have about a product for risk of sounding silly or novice. Using vinyl labels (which you can find here) to help pre-sell your products without the need for face to face dialogue might be appealing to some people who just want to get in, get out, and get on with their project.

Bigger, In This Case, Is Definitely Better: As skilled as some may be in their fine arts, the space management of a handwritten label is going to pale in comparison to one produced by a professional grade label maker. Most of these label printers allow you to lay out a label to your exact specifications on a computer before printing, giving you precise control of where everything is. Bigger signs with less blank background space are easier to see from far away. Even up close, people are more likely to notice a bigger, bolder sign for whatever they’re looking for, there’s just no way around it.

For internal company use, the same principles hold true; new employees can become more quickly accommodated with workplace layouts, current workers can more easily find obscure or seasonal products, and exact color, shape, and/or symbol systems for categorizing materials and products can be achieved and replicated much easier and quicker by machine than by hand. Finally, safety information should always be professionally produced and never handwritten – bold, clean, and well-produced labels are always going to carry more command and “weight” than a handwritten bulletin.