Is Digital Printing Best for Your Label Project?

Is Digital Printing Best for Your Label Project?

Your labels are important to you—and your customers. They’re often a customer’s first hands-on experience with your brand. Like the perfect clothing accessory, the perfect label sets off your product and gives it a polished, memorable look.

Here at Rose City Label, we understand how important this is to your business. We’re mindful of the fact that specific labeling needs often require different approaches to ensure the best possible result. We work hard to maintain a diverse portfolio of production options. This enables us to provide a consultative technique—we aren’t married to any one solution, except the one that is best for your particular label needs.

Our label printing technicians, with an average tenure of over 12 years each, comprise the most experienced production team in the Northwest. We pride ourselves on the ability to recommend the label printing solution that’s best suited to your product and to the project at hand.

Rose City Label has recently invested in digital printing equipment. This modern label technology is our fastest-growing department, and for some labeling needs, it really shines. However, it may not be right for every project. Depending on your needs, conventional printing may still be the best option.

We’d welcome the opportunity to help you determine whether traditional or digital label printing methods would best suit your needs, but considering a few factors should give you a good idea whether digital printing is ideal for you.

Short Label Run or Long?

Digital printing is ideally suited to a short label run. Run length refers to the linear footage of label stock running through a printing press. This will vary depending on the size of each label as well as the number of labels desired. The shorter setup on a digital press makes it an attractive option, both financially and environmentally.

For simplicity, we can advise that a run of around 3,000 feet or less may be a good candidate for this modern label technology. This can vary slightly depending upon the size of each label. Run length is not the only determining factor in deciding which technology to use, but it’s a good place to start.

Static or Variable Label Data?

Multiple versions of a label, such as different color combinations with the same print data, can often be done on a traditional press. However, making such a shift is usually easier—and more cost-effective—on a digital press.

Changing Data? Go Digital

This is perhaps the easiest consideration. If you need variable data, you need digital labeling. Dynamic data elements require that the job be printed on a digital press. Printing variable data such as serial numbers, fluctuating barcodes or numbered limited editions on a conventional press would most likely be cost prohibitive.

Trusted, Unchanging Label Designs

If your label design is mature, stable and unlikely to change, conventional printing methods may be more suited to your project. If your runs are medium to long length and your design is static, traditional printing technology may be the wiser choice. Once the initial plates and setup are in place, they can be used repeatedly on the conventional press without additional charge. For such a project, conventional print methods are likely to be less expensive than digital in the end.

Type of Stock Desired

If you desire an uncoated, textured label stock, digital printing has a clear advantage. Our HP Indigo digital offset press produces an exceptional result on uncoated stocks. The print quality and resolution is slightly better on the digital press. On some types of stock, the difference isn’t apparent. On others, it can be quite noticeable.

Metallic Inks, Die Cutting and Other Conversions

Perhaps digital label printing’s biggest weakness is that it doesn’t allow many options when it comes to converting. Converting refers to everything we do to produce a label, aside from putting ink on paper.
• Complex die cutting
• Back slitting
• Top scoring
• Perforations between labels
Options such as these are not available with digital label printing.

Additionally, digital runs produce labels in rolls as opposed to sheets. If you require certain conversions or need labels delivered in sheets, you’ll need to choose the traditional press for your project. Another popular feature—metallic ink—is not available when using the digital press.

When is Digital Label Printing Your Best Option?

There are many factors to consider when deciding which press to choose for your project. If you need variable data, digital is the clear (and only) choice. Other elements that may lead you to choose digital label printing would include:
• Short label run
• Uncoated stock
• Desire for very fine quality at high resolution
• Graphic design that is still evolving or may change periodically
• You can work with a roll rather than individual sheets
If your project has any of the above qualities, no special converting and you can live without metallic inks, digital printing will deliver an impressive result.

What’s more, digital gives us the ability to produce very low cost press proofs—printed samples on your actual label stock. These can be ideal for prototypes, photo shoots, and presentations to investors.

It’s important to note that not all modern label technology is necessarily digital. Our conventional presses, just like our shiny new digital equipment, are state-of-the-art, high quality machines which produce sharp, crisp labels of the highest caliber. By working Rose City Label, you give yourself access to experienced professional support and an array of printing options.

Ready to discuss how Rose City Label can help you set your product apart from your competitors? Give us a call at 503-777-4711 or send us an email. We’ll guide you through the choices and help you select the best option for your labeling needs.

6 Easy Tips for Better Labels

6 Easy Tips for Better Labels

Nobody likes a hard project – we all prefer EASY.  Luckily there are a handful of proven, easy ways to improve your labels.  These are low cost strategies to make sure you get the very best outcome with your next label project – all they require is a little planning and thought.  And, once you adopt these strategies, they can be applied to ALL your future label projects – they will all benefit from these 6 easy tips.

1.Market – Who are We Selling To?

Your target audience is the first thing you want to consider when you are creating a new product.  This applies to the product itself, as well as the label, the website, the sales channel, and may other aspects of your business.  The customer is the reason for your product’s existence.  Take the time to define, narrow, and validate the ideal customer you are targeting.  Based on that, your label design will follow – are you upscale and corporate? Small batch organic? Hand made or mass produced? Sold online or at Farmer’s markets?  All of these questions must be answered to get the best possible label for your product.

2.Begin with the End in Mind (is it a bag, box, or bottle?)

Now that the market is defined, and assuming your product is fully developed, start thinking about the package itself.  Will you sell in brown glass, clear glass, plastic bags, or corrugated boxes?  The container, and the size of the container, have a huge impact on what type of label will work best.  Durability is also a key question here- are the products used outdoors? Are they shipped long distance? What is the expected useful life of your product – a 2 gallon warehouse store package is much different than a single serve bottle.  Consider what the label is applied to, and how long it needs to last, as early in the conversation as possible.

3.How Will They Get on the Container?

With the brand, the product, and the package nailed down, think about the physical production of the product.  Are you using a contract packager? A mobile bottler? Or are you making it in small batches at home.  (And if you are making it at home, where to you want it to scale to?).  All these questions are critical, because they determine how the labels must dispense.  Nearly all the labels we produce are on rolls – but what orientation on the roll (right edge off first, bottom off first) and the roll size and core size can be major stumbling blocks if they aren’t addressed up front.  We can accommodate almost anything, but we need to know about it early in the process.  Think through this decision as early as possible – even if you are just deciding how you will set up your home kitchen to label Mama’s famous spaghetti sauce.

4.Quantity and Variety

How much of your amazing sauce do you expect to sell? We recommend buying a 6-12 month supply – this will give you a good volume price discount, but won’t burden you with excess cash tied up in inventory.  The more you buy of a given label – the lower the cost per piece – that is pretty obvious, but it has to be balanced with the risk of a product revision.  Obsolete labels are worthless and a bad decision, no matter what price break you got – it doesn’t matter when they are in the garbage can.  Also, what about differe3nt flavors? Sizes? or other product variations…  If you can group multiple products together, with the same label size, you can get great economies of scale.  This ‘bulk order’ could include multiple versions of the same label – this is a great way to test market – or it could include multiple distinct products – spicy, medium, and mild for example.


The other way to arrive at quantity and variety is to establish a budget.  This is especially useful if you have a new product with no sales history.  How much have you set aside for labels?  If that is $500, or $1,000 or whatever it is, we can help you back into the best strategy to get the most label value for your fixed investment dollars available.  This is especially true if you have answered the other questions in this article- armed with that information, it is easy to decide the best label choice for your product.  This can also be approached from the ‘cost per label’ budget perspective.  If your product cost (and sale price and profit) have to come in at a certain level, we can figure out how many labels you will have to purchase to hit that unit cost – this may also influence the design and complexity of the label if we are shooting for a certain price point

6.Future Expansion of the Product Line

Usually the first step is just getting your first order placed – or moving over to a vendor that understands your needs – and getting the project off the ground.  BUT – it makes sense to think about the long term as early as possible.  Where do you want to be?  What is the expansion strategy?  If all goes well, where do you want to be in 5 years?  How many products? Sold in what locations?  Think about this and how it may affect your label design.  We have to focus on the ‘now’ but we can’t ignore the big picture.

NOTHING About Label Equipment or Technology!

Notice that none of the steps here have anything to do with ink, paper, foil, or die cutting.  Those are very important, and we live those every day, but they aren’t the right place to start. We offer a full like of label printing – from simple to complex, and from small to large runs.  We have ALL the tools, but we need to have these questions answered first before we can recommend a specific technology solution.  Don’t worry about size, shape, or price until you have a clear idea of where you are going.  Use these steps to chart your course, and you will be successful.  In a future post I will discuss the next steps = applying the specific label production methods to solve specific problems – but first you need to clearly define the problem.  With that, you are half way to the solution.


NEW-Trition Facts Update – Latest news for Food Labels

NEW-Trition Facts Update – Latest news for Food Labels

Changes are coming to the Nutrition Facts panel.  We serve many different industries at Rose City Label and we are always trying to keep up with the latest trends in labels – both regulatory and design.

The FDA remains on track to update its nutritional labeling for individual food and beverage packaging.  We anticipate the final version will be issued the first quarter of 2016, and that industry will need to come into compliance by January 1, 2018.

The most current version of the new label is here – please take note of these changes.  They will affect all food label customers that are required to show Nutrition Facts on their labels.

Rose City Label, Nutrition Label Experts, Food Labels

What does this mean for you?

  • Partnering with a knowledgeable, experience printer is more important that ever

  • Many people will be changing their labels, so responsive service will be key

  • Plan for the change – there will be costs associated with this change, so please plan accordingly

  • Take the opportunity to review your graphics at the same time – does your label need a face lift?

  • Don’t know where to begin?  Call us today – we can help.

Thank you for trusting Rose City Label with your label projects – we appreciate the faith and confidence you place in our team every day.

Read Our Family Business Article

Read Our Family Business Article

We are humbled and proud of this award write up in the Oregonian newspaper here in Portland, November 11, 2015.  Thanks to our customer, Jim Kennedy at CBM for the nomination and to all the friends and customers that have reached out to congratulate us.  We should have a video to post after next week’s formal awards dinner, but for now here is the text of the article.

We couldn’t have done any of it without the amazing customers that trust us with their labels every day.  Thank you!


Scott and Whitney Pillsbury had already worn the label of business owner for a decade – of, appropriately enough, a label printing company – when a cratering economy forced the brother and sister to raise their management game in a hurry.

“We really were just kind of minding the ship we’d been given,” said Scott, who along with Whitney had taken over Rose City Label upon the sudden death of their father, Mike, in 1998. “Then in 2008, the phone stopped ringing. A lot of our customers went out of business. We had to tighten our belt and really look at expenses like we never had before. We said we’re going to take this business and make it better, invest in it.”

Adhering to the plan as solidly as its labels stick to a bottle of microbrew – the company is a major player in the craft beer sector, and also makes labels for any type of product that comes in a bottle, box or bag – Rose City made a series of capital investments. New machinery has expanded production capacity, improved efficiency and demonstrated both to customers and staff that the company is committed to competing for years to come.

First, Rose City bought a small-format digital printer. Then the company upgraded its traditional, long-run press operation with a high-definition, direct-to-plate system that converts designs on a computer screen into the plates that go on the press — eliminating the costly and time-consuming step of first converting designs to photographic negatives.

Next came digital die-cutting, and then in 2014, what Scott calls the company’s “capstone” purchase: a longer-run digital press.

“Each one built on the other,” said Scott, the company president. “Each investment we made that turned out to be successful gave us more confidence to do more.”

“Digital printing had always been a dream of ours,” said Whitney, whose title is vice-president. “It’s really exciting to be able to achieve that.”

Whitney and Scott describe themselves as the “fourth generation, second family” in Rose City Label history. George Frie founded the business in 1928, and 30 years later his son, Wayne, took over. Mike Pillsbury, who’d been a paper salesman for Crown Zellerbach, bought the company in 1974.

“He was a very strong, clear-minded, nice person,” Whitney said. “He believed in hard work, honesty and treating people the way he want to be treated,” Whitney said.

“He didn’t complicate things,” Scott added. “He used to say, ‘The two most important things we do here are sell labels and make labels, anything that distracts you from that is superfluous.’”

Whitney and Scott, who were 29 and 31, respectively, when their father died, both had worked at Rose City while in high school, then “went to college, went away and did other things,” Scott said, before returning to the family business – Whitney coming back in 1993, Scott a year later.

“We’re going to die here,” Whitney said with a laugh. “I hope we do have our children and grandchildren take over.”

Scott has four children ranging from 18 to 12, and Whitney has a 31-year-old daughter and 8-year-old granddaughter.

“Renewing the business has been really important to us,” Scott said. “Hard work and good luck enabled it all to keep moving forward, and it’s fantastic to see where we are now.”

With an emphasis on innovation and green business practices, Rose City has the buy-in of a loyal staff of 18 whose average tenure is 13 years, including a core who stayed on at 30 hours a week during the leanest of times.

“We are so lucky we have the employees we have,” Whitney said.

Scott and Whitney handle decision making jointly, and they’re also in agreement about what they learned during the downturn, and that the Business Renewal award traces directly back to their father.

“I really appreciate being acknowledged – it’s for Rose City Label and also for him and what he left us,” Whitney said. “We treat our employees like a family, and we’re brother and sister first and business partners second.”

“It’s nice recognition and confirmation that what we are doing is working,” Scott said. “We’ve learned not to take the future for granted. We’re going to celebrate when we’re doing well, recognize what we’re doing right, and be happy and proud.”





Plan for Greater Success in 2016

Plan for Greater Success in 2016

Being successful in business and life is all about being intentional – planning and executing.  You can’t run full speed all day long without burning out and failing.  The seasons of the year provide an excellent reminder about taking the time to plan for future success.

Now is the time to set the intention and the plans for a prosperous 2016.

Three Reasons to Plan for Success Today –

  1. Fall is very nice transition. Summer is over, kids are in school, and the craziness of the Holiday season isn’t quite upon us yet.  Regardless of your life or family situation, everyone can benefit from taking a breath, relaxing, and preparing to surge in the new year.
  2. You have a pretty good idea of how 2015 will end.  This far through the year, you should have a very accurate prediction of how the year will finish.  Did you meet your goals?  Did new challenges come in?  Are you trying to hang on? Or are you looking to invest profits to take advantage of tax benefits?  All of these should be pretty clear by this point in the year.
  3. There is still time to make something happen.  Planning for the new year in the last week of December doesn’t allow you enough time to investigate all the possible options for the coming year.  You may want to target new markets, partner with new vendors, or hire new people.  All of these things take time – and you may not get them right the first time.  By starting now, you can do a thorough review and make a solid plan for success, even if your first idea doesn’t pan out.

If part of your 2016 plan includes a marketing face lift, we can help your labels start the new year with style!  Bold new designs and graphics can make a dramatic impact in the new year.

We are blessed at Rose City Label to be on track for another record year.  Thanks to the great customers that trust us every day – we are able to make plans for even greater success in 2016.  If we can help you with labels, or if you just want to talk about your business goals for the new year, please call us today.

We are all here to help you succeed – call us today – we can help.