Blind Man’s Bluff: Ignoring Product Labeling Samples Gets Expensive

As a kid, ever play blind man’s bluff?

It’s a lot like tag, but you can’t see a thing. You’re blindfolded in a field, scrambling like crazy as every kid on the block screams your name, taunting you to tag them out. Blindly waving your arms like a madman, you fumble, trip over a lawn chair, fall flat on your face.

Sound fun? In many ways, it can be a lot like buying a labeling system without first providing a proper product sample.  It hurts right in the pocketbook.

When you don’t furnish your labeling manufacturer a correct and accurate sample of what’s to be labeled…

…you’re going down, hard. 


Frame Your Labeling Needs Like a Million Dollar Picasso

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. But holding an accurate product sample in your hands? That could be a million dollar bill. No joke.

People make the mistake thinking labeling’s easy, like slapping a Band-Aid on an open blister. This misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, every product is different, and the details of its dimensions, weight, and characteristics are critical components in the design of the machine that labels that product consistently.

  • Is it tapered?
  • What’s the thickness of the material?
  • How will the curvature and physical features of the product affect label placement?


Accuracy Can Make Or Break Your Production.


Labeling: trying to make change for a million dollar billFor example, you tell your labeling machine manufacturer you’ve got a round bottle to label, but actually, it’s an egg-shaped oval. And it turns out that oval-shaped bottle will require a belt aligner assembly to properly align the product so the “fingers” of the machine can capture it correctly to ensure consistent label placement. That’s a $10,000 “minor” difference in vocabulary.

And if you get that labeling applicator to the plant and it doesn’t work right because you based its design on a rough sketch and not an actual product sample…


…you’re stuck reconfiguring a system on the fly, an entire production at an absolute standstill, trying to make change for a million dollar bill. 

Good luck with that.


Engineered Precision

To work well for the unique characteristics of what’s being labeled, an automatic label applicator needs to be decidedly engineered and custom designed. That’s why we insist on a well-staffed engineering department. Every product is different and highly specialized, especially these days.

With a product sample, your labeling systems engineer can immediately see what questions need to be asked, those critical details that might otherwise be omitted. They can design the perfect solution through a more effective and perhaps efficient and cheaper design if they can literally see and touch exactly what they need to work with.


Why the Wrong Sample’s Just as Dangerous as No Sample

The accuracy of the product sample makes all the difference. In fact, providing the wrong sample, or one that does not end up being used as the finalized product, can prove just as disastrous as not providing one at all.

We worked with one company that provided us a glass bottle manufactured in the US as a sample. But it turned out the actual bottle they needed labeled had a completely different design from Italy. The Italian bottles didn’t run parallel; consistency on the neck label proved impossible. It wasn’t so much the cost of the $50,000 system that proved expensive as it was the time spent reconfiguring the problem – about 12 to 14 weeks of stalled production.


The Art of Taking Your Time in a Hurry

With labeling, it’s best to slow down and get a feel for your footing before you fall flat on your face.

By providing an accurate sample, you can take your time to get it right. You’re no longer playing Blind Man’s Bluff.

Having accurate product samples is 100% critical to the engineered design of a labeling system, not only from the standpoint of the actual build itself but the quote process as well. It allows the labeling machine manufacturer to whittle away approaches that won’t work and formulate creative innovations that will.

Anything worth doing well is worth doing right. Bluffing your way through a design can cost you both time and money.

Step back and ask yourself: What is getting it right the first time worth to you? An accurate product sample significantly increases your chances of nailing the labeling of your production on the very first try. 

Wild West gunslinger Wyatt Earp put it best: “Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. In a gunfight, you need to take your time in a hurry.”


Our Helpful Guide


Want to sleep great at night? Download our free guide, “The Secret to Planning a Labeling System.” Find out how to get it right on the very first try.

Have a question about how to find the right labeling system for your specific needs? We’d be happy to chat.



Request a Free Consultation



Download our labeling system planning guide