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What is a custom sticker?

A sticker is a piece of self-adhesive paper or plastic that is individually cut. A custom sticker is an individually cut piece of self-adhesive paper or plastic that is manufactured to fit your specific needs. You get to choose the material, size, shape, quantity and design you want.

Below, you can check out some great examples of custom stickers.

What is a custom sticker made from?

A custom sticker has up to five layers. Each of which you can modify to fit your needs. Starting from the top, they are:

  1. Laminate: (optional) for maximum protection.

  2. Ink: aka your printed design, is usually made from CMYK colours.

  3. Media: the paper or plastic we print your design on.

  4. Adhesive: that keeps your label stuck down - very important!

  5. Backing paper: often forgotten but very important. It protects your sticker and makes it easy to peel & apply.

Split view of a white vinyl sticker with each material layer numbered

Do you want to learn a little more about each layer? Then just keep reading.

Laminate

Lamination is optional. Our biodegradable paper stickers, for example, are not laminated. However, we recommend using a laminate for outdoor or long-term applications where added durability is required. On top of that, a glossy laminate makes your stickers look even more high-quality.

The most popular laminates, however, are thin, transparent plastic films that are either gloss or matte. These give the maximum protection. Generally, the thicker the sticker, the more durable it is.

Ink

There are many ways to print stickers. Digital and traditional are the two main methods. But we focus on digital.

Digital printing is growing hugely due to advances in printing. If you're buying less than 10,000 stickers per batch, they're probably digitally printed because the setup costs are much lower than for traditional printing.

Digital printers typically print in CMYK. That stands for; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (key). Some, more advanced printers can also print white. In the last few years, printers have even been adding orange, violet and green inks to widen their colour gamut. Meaning, they can print a broader range of colours.

At Sticker it, we have the world's best digital printer with up to 8 ink stations, meaning we can hit a vast range of colours and print white in one go.

Media 

The media is the material we print on. The most popular types of media are; plastic and paper. 

Both types of media are available in a vast range of colours, such as; white, clear, glitter, holographic, silver, gold, fluorescent and many more

Choose the material depending on a) where you will apply your stickers, b) how you will use your stickers, and c) what you want your stickers to look like.

For example, vinyl-based materials are perfect if you need waterproof stickers, whereas biodegradable paper is best suited for indoor uses, and glitter stickers are perfect for adding a bit of pizzazz to your design. You can find out more about what each material is suited for by checking out our materials page.

Adhesive

There are 3 main types of adhesive; removable, permanent or high-tack. You can find a detailed breakdown of these adhesives here.

  1. Removable adhesive is only suitable for very short-term applications where you want to remove the sticker.

  2. Permanent adhesive is the most popular. It's the best all-rounder and is what we recommend in 95% of applications.

  3. The high-tack adhesive is suitable for hard-to-stick surfaces, such as rubber, or some low-energy plastics.

All of our materials are self-adhesive. That means they come with a permanent, pressure-sensitive glue that is perfect for hundreds of applications. For a more detailed overview, you can have a look at our guide to sticker and label adhesives.

Backing paper

It's easy to forget about the backing paper (aka release liner). The purpose of the paper backing is to make the sticker or label easy to peel, which nearly all backing papers are good enough for these days.

But a good, thick backing adds a premium feel to your stickers. If you're giving handouts or selling stickers as products to your customers, we recommend going for a nice, thick backing paper to provide a premium feel to your custom stickers. It also makes your stickers easier to peel, which is a good bonus.

Custom stickers vs custom labels

When you browse most sticker printing websites, you will come across custom labels. While stickers are individually cut, custom labels are usually printed onto sheets or rolls.

We offer labels on sheets, which makes these labels much easier and quicker to peel and apply. They can look like this:

A die cut eco-friendly glitter sticker sheet with various designs, some applied to a yellow notebook
Round clear sticker applied to a cardboard box with a pink bow containing a wedding gift for guest on a white plate next to sticker sheets
Biodegradable paper sheet label with this is gonna be good design applied to seal a cardboard box
Rounded corner holographic sheet labels with victoria west logo applied to cardboard soap boxes
Die cut biodegradable paper sheet labels applied to a cardboard box filled with lavender soap

Labels on sheets are the perfect option if you are looking to brand your own products by hand. Sheet labels are about 65% faster to apply than individually cut stickers. If you're using a machine to apply labels, it's best to get your labels on rolls.

Labels can be customised just as easily as stickers. They are simply cut differently (namely only through the material layer, not the backing paper). You can find out more about what custom labels are here.

When to use custom stickers

Individually cut custom stickers should be your go-to option if you want to hand out or sell your stickers. Think laptop stickers, stickers for phones, logo stickers or promotional stickers. All of these can easily be created with custom stickers.

We have collected our favourite examples of custom stickers in this carousel:

Rectangular white vinyl sticker with developer design applied to a silver laptop
White vinyl kiss cut sticker with hamster design applied to a cardboard food box
Die cut mirror silver sticker with fox logo design applied to a silver laptop
Die cut white vinyl sticker with don't panic design applied to a black laptop
Circle eco-friendly glitter sticker with skate design applied to a blue iPhone
Round white vinyl sticker with go hack yourself design applied to a blue iPhone

You can even choose between different types of cut when opting for custom stickers. Get them die cut, which is cut in the exact shape of your design, or kiss cut, which leaves you with a border around your stickers. Have a look at our blog on what is the difference between a die-cut and a kiss-cut sticker to learn more.

How long will my stickers last?

How long your custom stickers will last depends on the material they are made out of.

Biodegradable paper stickers, for example, are designed to last two years indoors. Whereas white vinyl stickers will last up to 5 years.

Using your stickers outside, in direct sunlight or rubbing regularly, will reduce the lifetime of your stickers, but they will still last ages. Click here for a more detailed look at how durable stickers and labels are.

How to get your own custom stickers

Getting your own custom stickers is super easy, quick and surprisingly affordable. Here are the most important steps for getting amazing stickers.

Create high-quality artwork

Your artwork forms the foundation of your stickers. If your artwork is blurry or pixelated, your stickers will be blurry and pixelated. So make sure you submit it in the highest possible resolution.

That is easy to achieve by submitting a vector file. You can watch our video guide on how to prepare vector artwork right here.

If you submit an image instead, ensure that is has a dpi of at least 300. DPI stands for dots per inch and describes how many pixels your image has. The more pixels - or the higher the DPI - the better the quality.

You can avoid all of this by creating your stickers with high-quality templates. Find plenty of these in our free online design tool Graphic. Simply select your favourite and edit it to fit your brand.

Find a great supplier

Once you have a design you love, it is time to find the right company to trust with your stickers needs. They are plenty of options to choose from. However, for the best possible results, make sure your sticker printer of choice fulfills these criteria:

1. Free design proofs

When you are looking to get custom stickers made, it is important to find a supplier that offers free design proofs. They are digital representations of what your stickers will look like. Here is an example:

Example of a design proof of a die cut sticker with a bleed and a cutline added

With design proofs, you will be able to see a digital preview of what your stickers will look like before they are actually made. This is important because it gives you the opportunity to make any changes or edits to your artwork before the stickers are actually created.

Design proofs are a checkpoint that helps you ensure that you are happy with the final product, and that the stickers look exactly how you want them to.

2. Premium materials

This means that the sticker printer will use high-quality materials in the production of your stickers which will result in a finished product that looks great and is highly durable.

Of course, when you order stickers online, you mostly have to go off of website images and customer reviews. But good sticker printers will always offer material samples you can order for very little money.

This way, you can get a real-life feeling for your options and compare the quality of materials different printing companies offer.

3. Fast turnaround times

Of course, even the best stickers are of no use to you if they do not arrive in time. When you order custom products, there will always be a lead time because the product is made for you.

With custom stickers, manufacturing usually takes around a working week. Shipping times are added on top of that.

A good sticker printer will communicate their lead times openly to allow you to gage whether or not they are a suitable option for you.

Ordering custom stickers online

Now, you have your amazing design, you found the perfect sticker printer - it is time to place your order. Here is a video that explains how to order your stickers in minutes:

Let's break this down:

  • Choose your product

  • Enter your sticker dimensions.

  • Pick your favourite material. If you are unsure, take our quiz.

  • Select the quantity you need or type in your custom quantity.

  • Hit "continue"

  • Upload your artwork. You can also skip that part and send your design in later.

  • Click "checkout"

You will then receive your digital design proof within 12 hours after ordering. All that is left to do is approve it, and you can lean back and relax until your custom stickers arrive!