Choose the Right Labels in 9 Easy Steps

When people picture barcode and asset labels, they might not think there is much scope for variation. But labels come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes, designs and even the materials they are made from. They make our lives so much easier by improving stocktaking and storage in a warehouse or factory setting. Human error accounts for most mistakes in manual stocktaking, and barcode labels can eliminate these mistakes and ensure you always know where everything is in real-time.

Close-up of courier attaching address label on a package while working in the office.

But creating a label involves more elements than picking a design and sticking it on a product. There are a lot of variables to consider before getting your labels manufactured. Here’s how you can choose the right barcode or asset label in 9 steps. 

Label Purpose

The first step to choosing the right kind of label is to know its purpose. Does it just need to hold ID recognition? Or do you want your label to hold a greater variety of data? At GSM Barcoding, we have three standard types of barcode labels: numeric, alphanumeric, and 2-dimensional.

Our numeric barcode labels are the most standard kind often found in retail; they are straightforward and provide ID recognition. Our alphanumeric barcode labels can handle additional data information that can be important in the logistics transportation industry. Finally, our 2-dimensional barcode labels can hold over 1.1KB of data, including images and signatures. Before you get started on your barcode label journey, make sure you know the purpose of the label and how much information it needs to carry.

Label Compliance

Do your label requirements need to be compliant with any regulations? For example, in the automotive industry, labels must be the industry standard Odette supply chain labels and under the bonnet labels, as these can withstand the mechanical, chemical and climate exposure experienced in this industry.

We can provide you with a full range of labelling solutions that are compliant with industry regulations. Make sure when you inquire about barcode labels, you are compliant with any regulations in your industry – GSM can advise if you are unsure.

Worker in a warehouse with the barcode scanner

Design Requirements

The design of your label is crucial, as it needs to hold all the right kind of information, be entirely legible, and look great – potentially in line with your company’s branding. So you need to think about how the label will look to meet all these requirements.

Do you want colours included on your label? Will you want multiple colours or colours that match your branding? We can provide you with labels in a range of colours and sizes, printed to your exact specifications. You can speak to a member of our team to get design advice.

Label Longevity

Most people will want their labels to last as long as possible, but you may only need a solution that needs to last a few months. When you have custom labels manufactured, you can decide how long you want them to last and pick the most appropriate material for them to be made from.

We can provide you with thermal transfer printing for a long-term solution. For a shorter-term solution, direct thermal printing can provide quick barcode label printing.

Exposure to Elements

Depending on your industry, your labels may be subject to harsh conditions such as chemical exposure and extreme temperatures. Certain labels will not be suitable for severe conditions, so you need to make sure you take this into account so your labels will be ideal for their purpose.

The environment can drastically impact a label’s appearance and performance, so whether it’s likely to come into contact with moisture, light or heat, make sure your label has been specifically designed to cope in any of the tricky environments of your industry.

Security Requirements

Security labels are designed to be non-removable and display any attempts of interference with a void mark. These labels are designed to help prevent theft and label transference, making them an ideal choice for industries with expensive assets. When choosing your labels, make sure you consider if you need any special considerations like voiding marking or self-destruct materials.

Pharmacist scanning barcode of medicine drug in a pharmacy drugstore.

Pre-Printed or Blank

At GSM, we can provide you with fully printed labels or a blank label that you can fill in. It depends on whether you need a label that is ready for application or will have varying information that you want to add yourself. Decide if you would like a pre-printed or blank label before your order.


You will want labels that can be applied easily and efficiently, and different environments and volumes can affect how they are applied. Labels can be applied by hand, or they can be applied by a dispenser directly from a printer to a product to save time. Consider where your labels will be placed and the best method for saving time yet ensuring the label is ideally placed.

Size and Quantity

You need to know what size your label will be with specific dimensions. Consider what kind of information needs to be displayed and its legibility. For example, you may want to consider a more prominent label for safety information and warnings so that the text can be more easily read.

Barcode label printer. Barcode for use

Finally, decide how many labels you need to order from your label manufacturer. Or you could even consider purchasing a printer for barcode label printing, so you can continue to create your very own labels when you need them.

We hope this general guidance has given you some idea of choosing the correct label for your business. If you are still unsure, you can contact GSM Barcoding today to speak to one of our experts.

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