The Henderson Brewing Company teamed up with Lorpon Labels to take their bottle labels to the next level, with variable printing.

Variable data printing, also known as variable information printing, is very popular within the packaging industry, especially for brands, that want to address the customer personally. This innovative print method combines several information like names, images and symbols in one print run. Therefore, you can create many different designs without stopping or slowing down the print process. The award-winning Henderson Brewing Company teamed up with the creative minds at Lorpon Labels to use this technology to take their labels to the next level.

Custom-Made Labels Through Variable Printing

As Henderson has a unique beer series, called “The Ides of …”, which features an one-of-a-kind beer every month, Lorpons idea to promote this line with variable content convinced them straight away.

“I knew the variable content print concept for Henderson’s labels was a natural evolution of their unique brews. I believed it would be a great brand enhancement for their monthly Ides series,” says Jeff Sommer, Lorpon’s vice president of business development.

For the Ides of April, for example, they teamed up with the Canadian publishing company House of Anansi Press to create a series of labels that featured book covers of famous Canadian writers. Lorpons idea was to get the brand beyond consumption, as the bottles came not only with beautiful labels but became a collector item.

How to Overcome The Challenges of Variable Printing

But does variable Printing have a real benefit for the brand? Lorpon and Henderson discussed this in the very first meetings and their answer was yes. It is key to have the right team in place, as you need the perfect mix of creative artists and production and print experts, to achieve good variable printing results. This is as important as having the right printing partner with the specialized technology for this kind of printing. For this reason, Lorpon has a HP Indigo WS6800 press, which was specifically built for variable. The Indigo provides customers with best print quality, registration and the largest choice of substrates. Coca Cola, for example, used it for their “Share a Coke” and “One of a Kind” campaigns. Furthermore, next to the best hardware, the best software is needed, in that case the Esko software suite, leader in prepress graphics software for the label and packaging industry.

Getting the Right Ink, Paper, and Colour

The first run quantities were very small. Lorpon tried different materials for colour and feel, as these features are just as important as the look. The final labels of Henderson are textured, which gives the customers a feel of quality, just as for wine bottles. The team tested multiple suppliers of inks, varnishes and materials as well as different application methods to get the best possible results. They also worked with different press platforms, to identify the best creation process.

“We needed the flexibility for this process to work on multiple platforms – with digital labels printed on our HP Indigo WS6800, as well as traditional flexo printed labels for Henderson’s larger print runs, ” says Sommer.

Furthermore, the print experts at Lorpon created a custom colour palette, based on Henderson’s corporate design, on the HP Indigo WS6800. As the brand colours are outside the traditional CMYK range, they used advanced colour control and profiling software from HP and Esko, to get the desired PMS spot colours.

Variable Content: Three Advices from an Expert

Based on this experience, Sommer has three essential advices for brands working with variable printing:

  1. To work with experts with high experience in this sector.
  2. To get all partners as creatives, printers and clients involved directly from the beginning.
  3. To keep the scope of the project in check right after the start.

What do you think of variable printing? Are different, unique labels a benefit or do you prefer traditional, consistent design series? Discuss with us in the comment section.