Packaging Complexity Management Tip 8: Minimise fonts, illustrations and graphical elements

Packaging Complexity Management Tip 8: Minimise fonts, illustrations and graphical elements

Are there defined standard fonts, illustrations, and graphical elements?


Artwork content such as fonts, illustrations and other graphical content can provide hidden sources of complexity.  It is common for companies to build large ranges of content that needs to be stored, maintained and updated.

Proliferation of fonts may not seem significant, but licenses need to be managed and fonts need to be assured to ensure accurate replication across different platforms and machines.  It also results in dilution of the brand image.

To control fonts, a defined house style set of fonts should be mandated within the corporate and brand guidelines with clear processes for the introduction of new fonts.

Similarly, illustrations and graphical elements should be held in controlled libraries with standard images for particular uses.

This is the eighth of a series of 20 blogs giving a view of methods to deal with packaging complexity. Please help me improve the thinking by adding your comments and share this with others who may have a view.

Comment ( 1 )

  • Julieann Thornton

    I come from a medical device labeling perspective. These labels have much more information required on them than most pharma labels, particularly when you’re labeling for international markets and you’re trying to keep your GTINs / Catalog numbers to a minimum. The use of graphical elements, (e.g., symbols, device diagrams and other defined graphics), are a must-have to keep translated statements and other data elements manageable.

    I definitely agree on limiting the use of fonts. Especially if you’re using an in-house label printing system that does not define font sizes by points, (height and width callouts are used.) Regardless, each instance of a differing callout results in more data being sent to the printer that can become lost or corrupted in a manufacturing environment that is heavily populated with equipment.

    As a graphic designer, the rule of thumb that I’ve always followed is using no more than 3 fonts. This includes fonts as well as font styles. Use of more than 3 tends to make the labels look too busy and may result in users having difficulty immediately finding the specific information they are seeking. Of course, there will be exceptions to this rule, but it’s definitely a standard for a starting point.

    For vendor-supplied / pre-printed artwork, I would also recommend converting your fonts to outline before submitting to the print supplier. This eliminates the need to provide fonts to a variety of suppliers and you are assured of getting back exactly what was provided. This is not recommended for instruction booklets or manuals, but works extremely well for adhesive-backed labels that are applied to the packaging.

    I agree that design standards are another must-have. Design standards should include information related to branding, colors, minimum font sizes, addresses, use of symbols and graphics and other general layout information. Having and enforcing the use of design standards ensures that your product is labeled consistently, correctly and with a clean, professional look.

    Keep the articles coming!

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