“Oooh, shiny!” That’s my typical reaction when I see hologram labels. But in fact, these types of labels are more than just pretty and flashy. They can help secure and authenticate your products, documents, and services. Hologram security labels are difficult to forge, copy, or alter because of the prismatic properties of the holographic foil.
What Is a Hologram?
A hologram is an image that has been printed in such a way that it appears to be three dimensional, even though it’s on a 2D surface. Security labels usually use holographic foil for their 3D effects. Holographic foil is thin plastic sheeting that has an image printed on it with a laser. First, a single image is captured from many angles. Then all those angles are printed onto the foil. The result is a picture that looks three-dimensional even though it is flat. Generally, the patterns are simple – regular or slightly irregular shapes, or lines of text – because they don’t need to be very complex to resist tampering or counterfeiting.
The label material used under the holographic foil is generally a light-diffracting metallic silver, as the holographic images “pop” more against a shiny or bright background. When moved, the diffracted light makes colors and shapes appear to shift and move.
Some people add a tamper-evident layer to their labels. If someone tries to peel off the label, a residue will remain behind in a regular pattern. The most usual residue patterns are the word “VOID” repeated across the surface the label was stuck to, or checkerboard or dot patterns.
These labels are not true holograms in the scientific sense of the word, but they give the illusion of depth and movement. While still difficult to forge, they are more affordable than other types of holographic images.
Uses for Hologram Labels
You can use holographic security labels to protect your products and increase their visibility and shelf-appeal. You can also be use them to authenticate documents or other items (membership passes, autographed items, event tickets; the list is endless). The Professional Sports Authenticators organization recently added a security hologram to their authentication labels, as an example.
In addition, some gas stations and convenience stores use them to secure and authenticate their unmanned card readers or Point of Service terminals. (If you see a holographic sticker on one, check to make sure it’s not partially covered. If it is, someone may have placed a “skimmer” over the card reader.)
Blank holographic stickers can be used as seals or package closures. But you probably want text, graphics, or serial numbers printed over the holographic foil. The labels can be very effective when “reverse printed” with black or another dark color, leaving the holographic foil to show through the text or the open spaces in the graphics (as shown in the label above). This method may also increase text readability.