How the Label Makes the Brand

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One wouldn’t think something as small as a clothing label or hang tag could be so important. And yet it is — labels and hang tags reflect the quality of a product, which can make-or-break a brand. We spoke with an executive at leading label manufacturer Accent Labels to learn more, and we also spoke with a retail branding expert to gain insight into how labels and hang tags reflect a brand’s image. 

Rob Cannon, Vice President at Montreal-based Accent Labels, explained the importance of ‘getting it right’, whether it be a clothing label in the collar, or a hang tag providing pricing and other information. He said that a number of brands his company works with demand that a label be consistent no matter where in the world the product is manufactured or sold. Consistency is key — some brands source their labels in the same towns as their factories and as a result, differences become noticeable in quality, colour and execution.  To maintain quality and sameness, Mr. Cannon noted that his company designs all labels and hang tags in Montreal, with rigorous quality control when manufactured internationally. 

Mr. Cannon explained how important a label is in the shirt-making process, for example. A men’s shirt neck panel is made first, with the second step being to sew in the label. The rest of the shirt is then finished, and the hang tag (with pricing/branding/other messages) is placed on the garment last. An uncomfortable label can be a nuisance, and some consumers may remove these. Accent’s labels are ultrasonic slit to prevent that ‘itching’ feeling that one might get from a lower-quality garment label. Interestingly, he explained how Accent Labels processes its woven labels allowing them to be more easily and properly sewn into garments. This provides for a “crisper” hanger appeal long after the sale is made.

As retail continues to globalize, labels are becoming more multilingual — especially hangtags and care labels. Mr. Cannon noted that multi-language labels must translate perfectly to provide a consistent message, and that translation errors can be detrimental to a brand’s image. Washing instructions and other messages must transcribe perfectly and if they don’t, a brand’s image could become tarnished as the brand may be seen as ‘ineffectual’.  In addition, there are great benefits to having multilingual labels as excess inventory can be seamlessly transferred from one country to the next.

Discussing the topic of brand consistency and label quality, we spoke with expert Farla Efros, President of leading retail consultancy HRC Advisory. Ms. Efros explained the importance of consistent branding across all channels, and how unique garment labels are of utmost importance to a brand’s image — not to mention, some shoppers buy clothing because of the brand name itself. She explained how a lower-quality label, even in a higher-quality garment, can negatively affect the overall perception of the garment and brand, potentially diminishing its value. A badly-done label is noticeable, she said, while a high-quality, unique and identifiable label will only act to enhance. A high-quality hang tag is also of utmost importance as well, according to Ms. Efros, as consumers often finger through hang tags when checking for their favourite brands as well as to determine sizing and prices. She said that sometimes it’s the ‘little things’ which can make all the difference when consumers are making choices among competing brands, and that brands must recognize this in light of ever-increasing competition. 

Mr. Cannon tells us that Accent Labels is expanding, as it continues to secure new clients. This fall, the company, which already operates out of Hong Kong, will increase its presence in Asia by opening an office in Mainland China. It will continue to endeavour to provide the highest-quality labels, designed exclusively in Montreal with its team of graphic artists and product development specialists. The company boasts some major clients, and makes labels for brands such as Mark’s, Aldo, Canada Goose, Reitman’s, Urban Barn, Laura, and several major domestic apparel producers such as Codet, Jack Victor and The Government of Canada. Accent Labels is a refreshingly positive Canadian success story, in an age of globalization. 

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Publisher & CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Advisor at the University of Alberta School Centre for Cities and Communities in Edmonton, former lawyer and a public speaker. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.

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