StickerYou Blog

Stickers vs. Labels vs. Decals

August 4, 2016  |  
Stickers vs. Labels vs. Decals

Stickers, labels, decals, tomato, tomahto.

This turn of phrase is used when there are multiple interpretations, even though the primary meaning is the same, causing difficulty when there are various words that have descriptions that seem to be identical.

At StickerYou, we are asked daily, "What is the difference between a sticker, a label, and a decal?". The short answer — it all depends on how you're gonna use it.

Most commonly, stickers, labels, and decals have a definite gray area when it comes to defining these 3 sticky substances; causing confusion when trying to select the best product for your needs!

What are Stickers?

In general custom designed stickers are more graphical (such as logos, illustrations, and pictures) and are typically applied on a smooth surface of any size.

What are Labels?

Personalized sticker labels, on the other hand, are used for identification or informative purposes (such as name tags and product packaging) and are typically intended to go on a surface of a specific size (i.e on a mason jar lid measuring 3 inches)

What are Decals?

Custom decal printing is more graphical in its design, similar to stickers — just in larger formats and intended to be applied on walls, glass, and floors.

What are The Most Important Differences?

While the biggest difference between stickers, labels, and decals is in their intended use, they also differ in other areas, namely size, application surface, and longevity.

Use Cases

  • Stickers, labels, and decals mainly differ in how they are used. Stickers usually have illustrations, graphics, logos, and other designs and are used to decorate or personalize a piece of merchandise. Businesses can also give them away to employees and customers as part of a marketing campaign.

Labels, on the other hand, are meant to be informative in nature, relaying information about a particular product in its packaging. This can be anything from nutritional facts, brand information, or for regulatory compliance. Finally, decals are larger-scale applications, often used as decoration or for advertising purposes on windows, walls, floors, and vehicles.


  • Because of their differences in intended use, stickers, labels, and decals also come in different shapes and sizes. Stickers are often the smallest among the three, perfect for installing on small items like water bottles, laptops, cellphones, etc.

Labels can either be the same size or slightly bigger than stickers. They usually come in conventional shapes to stick over a product, but there are also wrap-around labels used for water, juice, beer, wine, or other liquor bottles.

Because of their small size, stickers and labels are typically ordered in bulk in the form of sheets or rolls.

Decals are much larger than stickers and labels, applied to wider surfaces like the body of a vehicle, or an establishment’s walls, floors, and windows. Decals are usually ordered and applied in small quantities since one is enough to cover an entire surface.


  • Stickers, labels, and decals are all adhesive and can be applied on a range of surfaces. But you’ll commonly see each one stuck on different items and locations. Stickers are mostly applied to small and smooth surfaces, whether laptops, notebooks, or water bottles. Most stickers are easy to install and easy to remove as well.

Labels are primarily applied to product packaging, displaying important information about the product. You’ll spot them in cans, bottles, jars, bags, and other merchandise. Labels are typically for business use, ordered in rolls for easy and quick application.

Decals come in different types, each with a different area of application. Floor decals, for example, are stuck on flooring. Wall decals go on walls or windows. And car decals are installed on a vehicle’s body. There are also permanent decals for outdoor applications.


  • Because of their differences in application, stickers, labels, and decals are also made to have different lifespans. Decals have the longest, lasting up to five years depending on how they’re used.

They’re followed by stickers, which can last three to five years depending on the type of sticker material. Labels have the shortest life, especially when used for perishable goods. Most labels last only one year when stored in the right conditions.


Stickers, labels, and decals all share similar characteristics, but there are distinct differences, namely their intended use, size, surface applications, and longevity. If you’re trying to determine which one you need, make sure to understand how each one differs and find the best option for your personal or commercial use.