Hot Foil Stamping

Denotative Meanings

Hot foil stamping is the application of pigment or metallic foil onto paper. It is achieved by stamping a heated die onto a foil, which adheres to the surface and leaves the design of the die on the paper.

Metallic foils, such as gold leaf, have been used for centuries to adorn objects and convey high stature and richness. The Pharaohs of ancient Egypt used it on furniture and tombs, the monastic communities of the Middle Ages used it to illuminate manuscripts, and dignitaries and elites applied it to letters and invitations. Presently, cigarette brands make use of hot foil stamping, in combination with a number of other design elements, to augment visual presentation.

Hot foil stamping involves colour and is often combined with embossing and debossing. Hot Foil is often used for brand descriptors, brand family names, logos, coats of arms, and monograms.


“Metallics help to indicate premium” 1


Overarching Theme Sub-Theme Connotative Chains
Lifestyle Luxury / Glamour Metallic colours –> Precious metals and gems –> Wealth, luxuryProcess involving additional expense –> Exclusivity, premium process –> LuxuryExamples:hotfoil
Lifestyle Gender Hot foil stamping has the effect of emphasizing certain gendered aspects of the pack. Examples:

  • Metallic purple script of the Vogue signature draws attention to the fashion-oriented, feminine flare of the brand name, colour, and typography.

    Lilas embossing1

  • Metallic gold for the straight lines and bowtie image on the Marlboro pack draws attention to these arguably masculine geometric shapes.




  1. Hampshire M, Stephenson K. Packaging: Design successful packaging for specific customer groups. Switzerland: RotoVision SA. 2007