The Difference Between Stickers and Labels

Pile of stickers

At first glance, you may think that stickers and labels are the same things. Tomato tomahto, right? Not quite. While they both may be sticky and have a purpose of sticking to things, they are not the same. Stickers and labels differ not only from how they are made but also how they are used in real-life applications. This is the difference between stickers and labels and when you should use each.

Oval label

What is a sticker?

Stickers tend to be more graphic in their designs than labels. You will often see stickers depicting logos, illustrations, pictures, etc. and generally used in marketing purposes to spread awareness of a company, product, or cause. Stickers are often found on a variety of surfaces, such as packaging, personal items, and more. A sticker is typically individually cut and comes in the form of a stack as opposed to a sheet or roll. Custom stickers are not designed for a specific location but rather to be given out to customers who may end up putting them on items such as cars, laptops, waterbottles, skateboards, and more. With this in mind, stickers are often made of either vinyl or with UV varnish or a gloss laminate to protect them from the tough environments and elements they will likely be exposed to. Stickers come in two formats – die cut or kiss cut.

  • Die-cut stickers are cut to size and do not have any extra backing or line surrounding the sticker. You will want to opt for die-cut stickers if you are designing custom shapes such as cars or people. The die-cut design is often the preferred design, making die-cut stickers more popular than kiss-cut stickers.
  • Kiss-cut stickers are cut through only the top vinyl layer and leave the paper backing intact. This allows the sticker to be peeled out of the backing material, while the backing material remains. You can have multiple kiss cuts on one sticker, which is called a “sticker sheet.” Kiss-cut stickers are worth considering if you need to include extra design detail or information or simply need to peel a lot of stickers quickly.
2 water bottles and the flat label

What is a label?

A label is more often used for informative purposes, showcasing information such as nutrition facts on food products and packaging or used as name tags. Its main purpose is to identify a product or object. Labels primarily come in thinner materials such as paper or film and are designed for a quick and easy peeling from the backing. There are two formats of labels – sheet labels and roll labels.

  • Sheet labels are labels that come on a sheet (like a piece of paper.) These can be used with inkjet and laser printers, or you can have them professionally printed. For projects where all the labels contain the same information, sheet labels would make the most sense. If you are looking to print in full color, you’ll also want to consider sheet labels.
  • Roll labels are labels spun around a cardboard spool. These can only be printed on using dedicated label printers. For projects where each label is unique, it is faster to use a roll printer. Think barcodes or shipping labels. Some of the printers used to print roll labels only print in black and white or offer limited color options, so make sure your project does not need color if you are considering roll labels.

When to use a sticker vs. a label

Stickers tend to be more durable than labels, made out of a premium, thick vinyl, as they are often used for promotion and handed out individually or within the packaging. Since stickers are handed out and the recipient can decide where to put the sticker, you don’t know where it will end up. They could end up in areas often exposed to the elements or wear and tear, which is why durable materials are often used to create stickers. Labels, on the other hand, are most often used on product packaging, shipping boxes, envelopes, and more. A label is designed with the end location in mind. Unlike stickers, when it comes to a label, you know where it will be located in its use. Labels are generally used for printing projects of shipping labels, nutrition labels, and other labels containing product information.

Rectangle label

Print your Stickers with Printivity

Whether you are printing your custom stickers to give away at events or to include in your product packaging, Printivity offers a variety of options to fit your needs. There is a shape for your design with sticker shape offerings of circle, oval, rectangle, and square. Printed on white vinyl gloss paper, your stickers will last no matter where they are stuck. You can even opt for a gloss coating for added protection if you foresee your stickers being used outdoors or on items that experience wear and tear, such as skateboards or surfboards. Download our sticker templates to help your design project go smoothly from start to finish.

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