How can I stand out? That is the one big question that defines every marketing effort out there. Ad copy, logos, branding, influencer endorsements — it's all a continuous quest for visibility.
Sometimes, though, the answer is a lot simpler. Instead of complicated ad strategies, keep it simple with some physical merchandise. Instead of just creating TikToks, create some custom logo t-shirts to wear in videos and promote later.
Branding via t-shirts (which you can both sell and give away, according to your strategy) is a time-tested marketing strategy. And far from being outdated in our digital age, it's made even more relevant in contrast with the overabundance of virtual content.
You just need to go about it the right way and look at the brands that had success with their t-shirt marketing.
1) Understand your brand
Custom t-shirts can be a wonderful way to gain visibility and convert a casual buyer into a loyal one. But there are a couple of things you need to get right.
First, know your identity. The best design is born out of understanding what your brand is all about. What do you stand for, what are your values? Do you have a mission? These are the elements that give real power and recognition to a brand name.
Second, be consistent. Think you have a compelling message? Stick to it and let it shine throughout your marketing style.
Case in point: The Hot Lips logo
For an example of what we're talking about, look no further than the Rolling Stones' tongue and lips logo. Simple, but powerful, their logo became immediately associated with the rebellious rock-'n'-roll culture of the '70s, and remains to this day a symbol of the band's timeless appeal.
2) Choose the right design elements
To get the best results, you can't overlook the importance of proper design. Give the proper attention to each design element to make sure you make the most of your t-shirt advertising bid.
For your logo to be clearly visible, you should opt for the top center or the upper right corner. There's a reason those are the most common positions for custom logo t-shirts — there your logo will attract the eye and be easy to see.
Our mind instinctively associates emotions with different colors, which is just part of the reason they're so important in design. Bright red or orange? That's energetic and vibrant. Earthier or paler tones of brown and blue — that's a subdued, controlled feel. So besides fitting your logo t-shirt design to your overall brand style and vibe, keep in mind that colors have their own language.
We've looked at how fonts matter in your poster or flyer design, and it goes without saying the same is true for custom logo t-shirts. The right font will go a long way toward setting the entire tone for how people perceive your brand: professional and focused, playful and creative, conventional, out-of-the-box, and so on.
If your design has written content such as your brand name or motto, too small a size can impact legibility. On the other hand, bigger isn't always better; there is a right size where your design will both grab the attention and be instantly recognizable.
If you're not sure which size is best, it may help to print out your design in different sizes on paper sheets. Place the sheets one at a time on top of a regular t-shirt and check how it looks from different distances — doing this will quickly tell you what size you should be going for.
Case in point: Hard Rock Cafe
Alan Aldridge, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Take a look at that classic, oh-so-familiar emblem from your favorite rock-themed restaurant chain. Designed by British graphic artist Alan Aldridge, the logo (and subsequently, the tee) was such a huge success that the brand never had to look back or think to upgrade it: in fact, you can now buy this "piece of history" of a t-shirt just the way it was back in the '70s.
The design is bare — two colors, two fonts, and one geometric symbol. But its effectiveness is a clear argument for the timeless value of well-thought-out simplicity.
3) Print quality
You are stamping your brand on a physical product people will take home and associate with your name. So for the love of whatever matters to you, don't be cheap. Getting your brand linked with the idea of "terrible quality swag" is hardly a winning marketing move.
What you want is to make sure your loyal customers take home a garment they can be proud of and wear for years to come.
With that in mind, steer away from the many printing companies that offer cheaper, screen printing services that have a flatter, low-quality look. Opt instead for Sticker Mule or another company that uses direct-to-garment printing — a digital process that prints sharper, higher-quality, higher-DPI designs that really come alive on your tee.
4) Consider wearability
You want others to wear your tees out and about, and for that comfort and overall wearability are key.
That's what we make our own t-shirts for. They're printed on 100% ring-spun cotton and are unisex-shaped. Our buyers find them super comfy — just see the reviews for yourself!
Depending on your marketing plan, it may also be a good idea to give your t-shirt a little bit of extra personalization. For instance, people will proudly wear your custom logo t-shirt to display a location they've traveled to, a niche hobby interest they have, or a funny saying.
Giving people an extra reason to wear your tee is never a bad idea, as long as it fits in with your overall branding and company values and style.
5) Determine your distribution strategy
Once you have your t-shirt design figured out, it's time to decide on a distribution strategy. You can:
- Sell them as regular merchandise. Even if your main product is not in the apparel category, you can offer t-shirts as part of a larger branded merchandise effort on your website or physical store. Loyal customers are always on the lookout for swag from brands they love.
- Use them as rewards. Add them as a quality freebie when a buyer places a large order — this can come as a nice surprise and will encourage repeat orders and loyal customers.
- Give them away! Social media giveaways are a fantastic way to get people talking about your brand. You can add your tees as a low-tier giveaway item or even as the main giveaway itself — all up to you.
Or just combine these and other distribution strategies according to what fits your business model best. Here, too, we can look for inspiration from the two famous names we mentioned above:
- Rolling Stones: Tongue-and-lips logo t-shirts were sold at concerts and other events, as well as featuring prominently on their website, making them into a kind of collectible promotional item that further connects owners to the brand.
- Hard Rock Cafe: The chain has retail stores at popular tourist locations where tees are sold as souvenirs. The brand is also known to use its merchandise in limited edition offerings, adding a sense of exclusivity to the purchase.
Iconic names such as The Rolling Stones and Hard Rock Cafe are just some of the more famous examples that bring our point home. But since the t-shirt became popular, companies of all sizes have been successful with this straightforward promotion strategy.
Keep in mind the requirements of a good design, of quality, of wearability. Understand your brand and plan an effective distribution campaign. Do all of that and you, too, can join the club of successful custom logo t-shirt promotion.
And with such prestigious members, who wouldn't want that?
Start printing your own custom logo t-shirts through Sticker Mule today!