Mercian Labels Podcast ‘shot’ #1: David Kay from Suntana


In the first of a new series of short Podcast “shots” we interview Mercian Labels customer David Kay of Suntana  about how he is using labels to grow his spray tanning products business and what lessons he can share about managing artwork for digital label printing (pictured above).suntana-digital-labels-banner

The podcast is 7 mins long and in MP3 format.

If you want to record a “shot” with us on any subject relating to labels or cartons, please email

cc88x31This podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported licence. In summary you can copy, distribute and transmit the work including commercial use of the work, but may not alter, transform, or build upon this work, and if distributing in any way you must include a link to the website on any page that you host the work on.

Listen here:

For other open source software fans (like us!) reading this, I am pleased to hat-tip Jono Bacon and Stuart Langridge for the original concept of short ‘shots’ of podcasts.  Thanks also to @zdanz a.k.a. ‘Computer Magic’ of New York for permitting the use of her ‘Grand Junction’ track in the podcast.

Transcript here:

Welcome to the Mercian labels podcast, I am Adrian Steele and today we are talking to David Kay ~ Managing Director of Suntana.

Adrian: Hi David

David: Hi

Adrian: How are you doing?

David: I am fine how are you?

Adrian: Yes, very good. Thank you very much for joining us today for this podcast. Can you tell me a little bit more about your company please, tell me about Suntana?

David: Yes sure. Suntana was officially incorporated in 2009 in response to a niche which we had identified in the tanning market. Tanning products at the time were fairly generic in formulation and we saw an opportunity to make our products stand out from the rest by adding fun fragrances like chocolate and cherry. My role has steadily evolved from full hands on management to my current role as in-house web developer. The day to day operation of the company is now taken care of by my very diligent staff members and this frees me up to focus my attention on e-commerce and product development.

Adrian: So you are a business that is very focused and used to using online marketing and online media to promote your business.

David: Yes, there is a very strong focus on online marketing.

Adrian: Okay, that’s great to see. It is a very cost effective way for a lot of businesses to get some good market penetration. Your products are certainly – with the chocolate flavour, sends a really unique take on a large market, but quite an established one, just tell me more about how you got to that particular USP and what is special about your products?

David: The products on the market at the time were all very generic and we needed to make our products stand out from the rest and I think we have managed to do that by incorporating these unique fragrances.

Adrian: What sort of feedback have you had from your customers about that unique offer?

David: The feedback has been overwhelming to be fair, our customers absolutely love the products.

Adrian: So you use labels in the business, tell me on what sort of products and packaging do you use those and what benefit have they brought to you?

David: All of our bottled products have labels, all are supplied by Mercian. To be fair, we tried several suppliers before stumbling across yourselves and we have actually found you to be very fastidious and professional and we haven’t looked back since.

Adrian: That’s great, thank you very much. So you are using labels on the sprays and those are mostly bottled sprays?

David: Yes, mostly bottled.

Adrian: Okay and what sort of designs and processes have you tried to use and what benefit have you found from using those?

David: Well as I say, most of the designs are done in-house by myself, now that I have a little bit more time to do that but you know it is good that Mercian have their own in house proofing and design team because as much as I think I have done everything right, the truth is it is often very different and there have been times when I have sent label images to be printed, only to have them rejected for issues which I have not noticed or anticipated. If they had gone to print without Mercian’s eagle eyed professionals we would be very upset.

Adrian: Yes, that is one of the common challenges that we face, when small businesses without a lot of packaging design expertise, design a label which looks aesthetically really quite good and the effect that they want and then it is a matter of turning that into a design of the right sort of quality and colour combinations that will actually print and deliver the right effect. So you are certainly not alone in benefiting from that sort of eagle eyed view and press proofing, certainly from the digital process so you can actually get to see what your designs will look like and make any changes before you go to print.

David: I think the beauty of digital printing is the fact that we can order a short run of labels, if we are trying a new product for a new product launch. We don’t have to invest in hundreds of thousands of labels at a time. In fact there was an example of this only last week, I had produced a new label design for a new tanning range that we have in the pipeline. I needed a handful of labels really just to see how they would look on the packaging and this wasn’t a problem for yourselves. Within a few days I had them on my desk and best of all, maybe I shouldn’t be telling you this ~ but you didn’t charge me.

Adrian: I think that’s called Superior Service.

David: It is little touches like that, that remind you why you decided upon a particular supplier.

Adrian: Indeed, I think businesses that support each other generally flourish and do well, so we are pleased to do that. Have you got any tips for other label users as to things that you have tried relating to labels and what sort of benefits they have brought to you, either increasing sales or different product launches, or cost control or colour matching, anything at all?

David: Look, I think the best tip really would be to put your trust in Mercian’s in-house design team, because as I say without them I think we would have struggled in the past.

Adrian: Okay, so rely on somebody with some expertise to get that design right for you.

David: Absolutely.

Adrian: David that is excellent, thank you very much. Where can listeners find out more about your products at Suntana.

David: Okay, they can go the website and the address is

Adrian: That’s great, it has been great speaking to you today, I am sure everybody will appreciate those tips particularly in regard to getting their artwork very crisp and taking advantage of those beautiful press proofs. If anybody would like to join us on a podcast you can apply by email, so please email us at: