An Introduction to Extended Content Labels (ECL) for Designers, Marketers, and Brand Owners

As a packaging designer, marketer, or brand manager you know the 2.6 seconds you have to catch a consumer’s attention is critical. You have done your research, crafted your messages, and are ready to design a labeling solution that is sure to appeal to your target audience, represent your brand values, and stand out on the retail shelf.

Enter the increasing demands on label space for legal and regulatory requirements. Your product isn’t getting any larger, so, how do you maintain shelf appeal, get brand messaging across and meet regulatory requirements? For many Consumer Product Groups the answer is extended content labels (ECL).

What is an Extended Content Label (ECL)?

When packaging profiles are small and there is not enough room on labels, Extended Content Labels provide space for more graphics and copy through the use of multiple pages. Often called booklet labels or expanded text labels, they are all engineered to do the same thing — increase the amount of space available for text and graphics.

ECLs have traditionally been available for pressure sensitive labels. One or more plys are affixed together creating a hinged, multi-page label. These labels are re-sealable and help carry the important information that might otherwise be left off of your product packaging. Recently, Quality Assured Label has introduced BackPack® roll-fed extended content labels and Cut & Stack extended content labels. This new technology brings all the benefits of multi-page labeling to new product categories.

Pressure Sensitive ECLs

Extended content labels with a pressure sensitive base are the most common form of ECL. They are especially common in the Health & Beauty and OTC markets, where package profiles are small and finding space for government required health and safety information is difficult. Many options are available for pressure sensitive ECL manufacturing. One of the most successful methods of production is completely in-line. Selecting a printer with single-pass printing and finishing streamlines the packaging process, eliminates the possibility of mismatched components, ensures brand consistencies, and reduces your bottom line. In-line produced ECLs are available in 3-, 5-, or 7- page booklet formats, yielding up to 600% more content area. Pressure sensitive ECLs are completely customizable and can be designed to almost any packaging profile.

Roll-Fed ECLs

Recently introduced to the marketplace, roll-fed ECLs are currently available in 2- and 3-page constructions, offering up to 200% more content area. Brand owners and designers are drawn to these labels because of the 360 degrees of wrap around space—sure to help catch the consumer’s attention. The ECL can be opened up from 10 to 350 degrees dependent on space needs. For unique marketing and coupon opportunities, partial height opening windows with a perf and tear option can be incorporated. For products with multi-lingual needs, brand owners consider the multi-opening ECL. In this option, each language has its own section or strip.

Originally developed for the aerosol can market, where regulatory requirements are strictly monitored, the Roll-Fed ECL solves space restricted labeling challenges. However, this ECL is not limited to aerosol products and many brand owners, already using the more common pressure sensitive ECL, are considering making the switch to roll-fed labels. Because roll-fed labels apply at faster line speeds and material is less expensive, they offer an economic advantage

Cut & Stack ECLs

Developed as a 3-page construction, the cut & stack ECL brings up to 200% more content area to your packaging. Similar to the roll-fed ECL, this label offers 360 degrees of wrap around brand presence and can be customized to open from 10 to 350 degrees. Available as paper-paper or paper-film construction, brand owners with cut & stack labeled products are now able to offer additional information in a re-sealable label. Especially popular for cut & stack ECLs are solutions that add value for the consumer. Because these labels are common to canned and powder food products, they are a perfect fit for recipes and preparation instructions in multiple languages.

A variety of uses

Brand owners and marketers benefit from the flexibility and customization available with extended content labels. If, like many packaging professionals, you find yourself with any of the common labeling challenges below, an extended content label could be the right fit for your packaging.

  1. Regulatory information is overshadowing your product identification and brand messages .
    With an ECL label, content space is dramatically increased. Customization will allow you to choose how much extra room you need to allow your brand messages to catch the consumer’s attention, while meeting regulatory requirements.
  2. You would like to save money and reduce excess packaging inventory for multiple export countries.
    The additional space on an ECL can be used to include multi-lingual copy at equal weight, allowing you to reduce label SKUs. The same label can be used for several distribution countries. This packaging reduction has the added benefit of strengthening your green image. Some brand owners are able to use the ECL to replace cartons, secondary or back labels, and inserts — further decreasing their eco-footprint.
  3. You would like to introduce a new product to loyal customers of an established product.
    Many brand owners use the extra space afforded by ECLs to launch new products. Offering instant redeemable coupons (IRC) for a second product purchase, recipes, or quick response codes to bring consumers to your new product web page or fact sheet are just a few of the ways to introduce a product to your existing customer base. IRCs, game pieces, and promotions added to labels through ECLs are also effective ways to encourage repeat purchases.
  4. Important use instructions and safety information fits on your label, but is too small to read.
    With up to 200% extra content area for roll-fed and cut & stack ECLs and up to 600% more space on Pressure Sensitive ECLs—you are sure to have enough space for legible copy. This vital information will remain with your product for its life cycle in a durable and re-sealable booklet construction. MSDS sheets and safety instructions can now be included directly on your product, saving valuable time in the case of an emergency.
  5. Marketing initiatives include increasing your social media presence.
    Combining on- and off-line marketing efforts is a powerful strategy to build brand awareness. One of your most accessible customer touch points is packaging. The ample space of an ECL label is the perfect space to drive on-line traffic to your web and social media sites where you further educate and engage your customer. Extended content labels are completely customizable, provide dramatically more content area and ensure information is easy to read, readily accessible, and does not crowd your important brand messages. Available for pressure sensitive, roll-fed l, and cut & stack labels, brand owners are able to find the right fit to utilize the short period of time allotted in a retail environment to catch the consumer’s attention with extended content labels.