Labels or Tags . . . Which is the Best Choice?


By Ron James, Senior Sales Executive - Adaptive Data Inc.

Deciding on which media to use can have a big impact on your internal operations, the supply chain and even your customers. In some cases, it can even be the distinguishing factor between you and your competition and help WIN the business!

In part 1 of this blog, we’ll define the difference between the two media types, and talk specifically about TAGS.  In Part 2, we'll get into LABEL choices.

What is the difference between LABELS and TAGS?

LABELS have adhesive.  Each adhesive type is usually specified to adhere to specific materials under certain conditions.

TAGS do not have adhesive.  Often tags are thicker than label stock because tags need to have the stiffness necessary to keep their information displayed. Tags can be affixed to containers with wire-ties or even tie-wraps. In other cases – tags may be inserted into clear pouches to protect them.

Material Types: Both tags and labels can come in either paper stock OR synthetics. In the case of tags, synthetic stocks allow the tags to be non-tearable, meaning they will last longer when stored in tough or oily conditions, even in outside conditions such as a stock yard. In addition to the material composition of the tag or label, both come in either Direct Thermal (no ribbons required) or Thermal Transfer (requiring a ribbon to image the material)

So how do you decide what is best for your business? The answer is it all depends! Factors such as what you’re labeling, the environment, and label life, among others, all come into play.

Factors in Choosing Tag Materials

If you have decided that tags are more appropriate to our identification requirements, what are the considerations of tag choices?

1. How will the tags be affixed to the item? They can be affixed with a wire tie (labor intensive), slipped into a clear pouch (which also must be affixed to the item but is usually semi-permanent) or even tie-wrapped.

2. How long will the tags be required to stay on after they leave your facility?

3. How long are the images expected to last?

4. What will the tags be exposed to? If they will be exposed to sunlight, this could discourage the use of direct thermal tags. Chemicals, oil, or handling equipment that may tear the tags. If the requirements here are demanding, you may want to consider synthetic tags.

5. Is there an advantage to anchoring two ends of the tag as opposed to only one side or end? For example – if you are placing a bar code on the tag and want the tag to stay oriented a certain way to speed bar code reading, it is best to affix two different ends of the tag.

6. Do you need a two part tag for tracking purposes? If so – you’ll need to design the tag around the perforation area.

We welcome your comments.