Helical Labels


Top: “Triumph Brewery” labels by Abby Brewster (via: The Dieline); on right: 12 inches labeling by War Design (via: The Dieline); lower photo: Directors Cut Wine—concept by Marc Schwarzberg, graphics by Sfaustina (via: The Dieline)

Wrapping a label around a cylindrical object (bottle—jar—can) there are pretty much two ways you can go. You can either go straight around the middle like a belt… or you can wind it around at an angle, forming a helix.

Labels often come printed on a roll to begin with, so one au courant concept is to wind a few inches of labeling around, letting the redundant graphics provide the same information from any vantage point.


Barabasol photo from Roadside Picture’s Flickr Photostream; Adnams Beer (via: Lovely Package)

Barbasol’s stripes are clearly a reference the classic barber’s pole, but there are plenty of other packages with helical motifs that are simply abstract graphics, although usually with a jaunty, uplifting angle. Note how, in all but two of today’s examples, the direction is upwards, from left to right—(as if it would be a downer for it to go the other way.)

The Adnams Beer label, while “uplifting” is actually not a helix at all, as it reverses course and loops back down in the back. The front view strongly suggests a helix—but it is actually worn more like a beauty contestant’s sash.


On left: Mack Cider by Tank (via: The Dieline); on right: Found Juice

Even in labels that do not actually extend all the way around, the helix is still implied. The label on the two cider bottles (above left) surely end abruptly in the back, but their upper labels at the neck pretend to be continuation of the same winding strip.

The found labels, on the the other hand, really do continue on all sides. (According Found Organic’s co-founder, Mark de Luca: “Found has nothing to hide, there is no ‘back or front’ so from any angle the logo and all info can be seen.”)

(The helical story continues unwinding, after the fold…)


On left: Torque Vodka designed by Honest Bros. (via: Lovely Package); on right “Mixed Emotions” bottle concept by José Luis García Eguiguren (via: Lovely Package)

And there are plenty of other associations we make in connection with helical patterns: springs, coiled glass laboratory apparatus, ramps, spiral staircases, peeling fruit, etc. (See also: Core Jar)


Left: Miller High Life redesign by Landor (via: The Dieline); center: Baboushka Vodka by Webb deVlam (via: Lovely Package); on right: Jacob’s Appelsin Juice cartons designed by Strømme Throndsen Design (via: Lovely Package)

Regarding the Baboushka Vodka bottle, Webb deVlam says this:

“The Baboushka tale emerged as an elderly Russian woman refused to follow the three kings to Bethlehem on the quest for the child born king. Legend has it she regretted her decision and is to this day and is still on her own pilgrimage. The metaphor of her arduous and infinite journey was conveyed through the use of the upward spiral structure progressing around the bottle.”

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

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