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Industrial Labels

Custom labels create easy hack for magazine covers

Magazine covers have given us some of the most striking and memorable images from the last several decades. From documenting history to capturing a moment in pop culture, subscribers to some of the world’s most imaginative publications look forward to each new cover. 

One hitch in presenting cover photos to subscribers, however, is the address label. Layout directors at major publications know to design around the inevitable white box in the corner of every issue. For some special editions, foil or cellophane wrappers can keep the address label from touching the glossy cover. However, one solution publishers can consider implementing in 2015 was used by Time Magazine in March of last year: the mail label cover. 

Following criticism from subscribers that an image of the World Trade Center was obscured by the address label, the magazine printed the covered portion of the photo on labels to scale, and sent the adhesives to readers. They could then apply the labels like the final piece of a visual puzzle. Subscribers could then restore the entire image to be saved, framed or otherwise enjoyed. Critics lauded the idea, saying it was brilliant in its simplicity. 

“It’s a triumph of photojournalism that will surely rack up tons of awards,” writes Simon Dumenco of Ad Age. “But I think [the subscribers who complained] deserve an award, too, for inspiring Time to create a mailing-label merkin.”

The move showed that Time was engaged with reader feedback, and gave them an interactive custom label solution, a life hack for magazine subscribers that more publications might replicate in the future. While it might sound gimmicky, the reviews were very positive and it presents one more way that industrial label printers can solve age-old problems. 

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