What's the Difference Between Prime Labels and Secondary Labels? September 21 2016

Prime Labels vs. Secondary Labels – What's the Difference?

On demand product label printing brings new terms to understand and choices to make. One of the most important choices involves selecting the right label printer for the task. For example, do you need to print prime labels or secondary labels?

Prime labels vs secondary labels

What are Prime Labels?

Prime labels are featured prominently on the front of a product. They become an important part of the product and its branding. As such, prime labels are richly detailed with superior text and graphic design elements. They're typically printed in full color on high quality label stock.

Prime labels appear on the front of wine bottles, gourmet food jars, bags of coffee beans, and any number of products. They're designed to reinforce the brand, appeal to consumers, and entice consumers to buy. Because label stock and graphic design quality are vital in producing prime labels, manufacturers often use commercial printers or invest in high resolution, "on demand" color label printers such as Primera LX900, LX810, and LX400 printers.

Prime labels custom printing

What are Secondary Labels?

Secondary labels are also applied to products, typically on the carton or packaging. These labels usually serve a secondary purpose such as providing nutritional information on the back of a food product. Secondary labels are used in manufacturing and industrial environments as well. For example, secondary labels are used on inventory, supplies, equipment, samples, boxes, mailers, and other items. Manufacturers of items such as hardware, utensils, and supplies often label their carton boxes with secondary labels containing product details, barcodes, and black and white or grayscale graphics. 

In many cases, especially in industrial applications, secondary labels are the only labels used. Grocery stores often apply secondary labels to food items created or packaged in-house such as on bakery items or meat from the butcher counter.

barcode labels

Think of the two label types in terms of form versus function. Prime labels serve as form and branding; they are highly visual. Secondary labels provide functional details such directions, sizing information, care instructions, nutritional information, part numbers, patient information, shipping addresses, and so on; they are highly functional. Due to their utilitarian nature, they may be printed in black ink only with limited graphical elements. Black thermal printers are often used for printing secondary labels because they are fast and inexpensive. Industrial label printers produce fast, low resolution labels that are durable and do not smudge and smear.

At PTI, we specialize in custom printed thermal label products. We bring prime labels to life. Our FREE design and layout services set us apart from other manufacturers, because we have the application expertise and "know how" to create highly effective designs best suited for any application.