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Designing strips

The following guidelines concern the details of designing strips. However, it is important to first consider whether a strip is appropriate or not. Information on this is provided in the Deciding if a strip is appropriate panel within the Standard pack layouts page. In summary:

  • Strips are not compliant with the GS1 guideline. In this regard, the Cambridge and GS1 guidelines diverge.
  • Cambridge recommends that strips may be used, 'if and only if' there is no other viable way of communicating the 4Ws within the image tile in a manner that passes the visual clarity test.
  • In order to meet both guidelines, we recommend that if a strip is used, a duplicate version of the image should be created that omits the strip, so that a version that’s conformant with the GS1 guideline is always available, and retailers can choose the version that works best for their platform. Read more.
  • Using ‘Dynamic imaging’ to create strips is encouraged Read more.

The rest of this page describes more specific guidelines related to particular details associated with the design of strips, as follows:

Choosing strip orientation

Strips should be horizontal for landscape products and vertical for portrait products.

This is preferable to making all strips horizontal because:

  • Using a horizontal strip on a portrait product does not make good use of the available space. As a result, the pack shot is much smaller than necessary and the messages on it are even harder to see (see examples on the right).
  • Cropping a portrait pack to fit in the available space reduces the distinctiveness of the product shape. This can make it hard for shoppers to recognise the product type.

Avoiding floating text

Floating text refers to text that is off-pack (or partially off-pack) and not contained in a strip or lozenge. Floating text should not be used in a Mobile Ready Hero Image.

Rationale

The alignment of floating off-pack text looks inconsistent. The text needs a consistently sized coloured background behind it to aid alignment and provide a visual anchor.

Using standard background colours within strips

The background colour of the strip should be chosen by the supplier to match the variant colour. Note however that the background colour of the size lozenge should be black). Strips should not have colour gradients/vignettes.

Colour gradients and vignettes should not be used because they typically reduce the visual clarity of the text. In addition, retailers demand category standard visual consistency in off-pack communications. They will not accept images where each supplier uses their own method of applying colour gradients (especially in different directions and with different tonal variations).

Rationale

Colouring the strip to match the variant often helps the shopper to distinguish the variant. Furthermore, there is little space to communicate the variant colour on the digital pack itself on a mobile device. The strip provides extra space to get the colour across. The lack of space on the digital pack is especially problematic for tall thin bottles (e.g. eye liner).

Choosing the words in the strip

The words in the strip should communicate the type of the product or ‘which variety’ it is (see the 4Ws). The words should occur in the product title and should not be a brand name.

The strip should not be used to replicate the full product title because this results in text that is too small to read on a mobile device. Instead, the minimum number of keywords should be used to communicate whichever aspects of the 4Ws cannot be discerned from the digital pack and the size lozenge. This is typically either the type of product or ‘which variety’ it is.

Using title case text

Text in the strip should be in title case, where each word starts with a capital letter (e.g. Dry Shampoo).

Rationale

  • Consistent capitalisation results in more consistent image tiles.
  • At extremely small sizes, words are clearest in lowercase text. The overall shape of a word provides a clue as to what the word is, even when the individual letters cannot be distinguished.
  • The product titles on retailer websites typically use title case, where each word starts with a capital letter. Doing the same for the off-pack text maintains consistency.
  • ALL CAPS text draws too much attention to the off-pack communications rather than the digital pack. In an ideal scenario, the digital pack should tell shoppers everything they need to know, and the text is only read for confirmation.

Using a standard typeface, font size and colour in strips

Typeface

The typeface should be Open Sans bold.

  • Open Sans was designed by Google to be "neutral, yet friendly" and "optimised for excellent legibility on web, and mobile interfaces".
  • It is free and open source so everyone can use it.
  • Condensing the font, making it lighter or making it heavier makes it harder to read on mobile devices.
  • Retailers demand visual consistency in off-pack communications.

Font size

Within a 3000 x 3000px image, the font size should be 70pt. Larger font sizes draw undue attention to the strip and can make it hard to fit in all the words. Smaller font sizes not readable on mobile devices.

The text should not be shrunk to fit more words into the strip. Instead the minimum number of keywords should be used to communicate whatever aspect of the 4Ws cannot be discerned from the digital pack and size lozenge.

Font colour

The font colour should be white, unless there is insufficient contrast between white and the background colour. In this case, the font colour should be black. To achieve this:

  • Use a colour-contrast checker to check the colour contrast between white and the strip colour (e.g. the Colour Contrast Analyser from Vision Australia). If this passes the ‘AA Large text’ contrast check, then white text should be used on the stripe.
  • If this fails the ‘AA Large text’ check, then use black text instead.

Choosing text orientation

Text in the strip should read upwards.

Rationale

  • In general, whenever text appears vertically on a pack, it reads upwards. In particular, barcodes generally read upwards.
  • In other fields (e.g. graphs, engineering drawings), text generally reads upwards.
  • Doing the same for the strip maintains consistency and makes it easier for the shopper to read.

Using standard shapes for strips

The shape, width and position of the strip should not be changed from the Photoshop template.

Rationale

  • The width of the strip has been chosen to fit 2 lines of text because some products require this. The strip width should be consistent across all products.
  • If the strip is too wide, it draws undue attention to itself.
  • The position of the strip has been chosen to leave the bottom right location available for the size lozenge. This is the only consistently available position for the size lozenge, across both portrait and landscape products.

Avoiding the digital pack touching the strip

The digital pack should not touch the strip.

Rationale

The image tile looks too cluttered when the digital pack touches the strip. Furthermore, strips should only be used for products that are tall and thin or flat and wide, which generally gives sufficient whitespace between the digital pack and the strip. For wider products (closer to square in shape), there should be sufficient space within the digital pack to communicate all of the 4Ws. See the page on standard layouts for further guidance on choosing the best layout.

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