Design a winning shirt for your business

DTG printer with promotional t-shirt

Who wants to wear your creation?

The best way to get good value for the business dollars you spend on promotional shirts is to take time and effort to design the right product. The bottom line is that if a shirt is not worn by the people you give it to, any promotional value to you it may have had will be lost.

Our experience in producing promotional shirts has led us to the following considerations to figure into your design for a successful outcome:

• Appearance. Does it look cool? Is it something people will want to wear?

• Style and comfort. Is the shirt you provide comfortable to wear? Have you taken into account that women often want a more fitted, feminine shirt?

• Advertising effectiveness
. Does the combination of words and pictures send a clear message? Is it consistent with your other branding? Does it make sense?

• Appropriateness. Does the shirt, taken as a whole, appeal to your target audience?

We at Creativity On think that t-shirts make an excellent promotional tool. Unlike print advertising, they don’t end up in the recycle bin the next day. Yet for them to work well for their intended purpose–to promote your business–they need to be well designed. Let’s look at the ingredients for success in more detail.


Unless ugly is a deliberate design feature, unattractive shirts won’t get worn and your money will have been wasted. Many people overlook this simple design principle in their rush to get something with their logo out there. Often they try to come up with a design on the fly for a deadline they ignored.

It might pay you to pay a designer. It will definitely pay you to get other people’s opinions about a proposed shirt design. Bearing in mind that you cannot please all the people all the time, you can at least get some crucial feedback about your creative vision.

A pleasing design will be worn with enthusiasm. Depending on the circumstances, one way to accomplish this is to create a fun or feel-good shirt theme. Your business is shown endorsing the theme. This is actually done all the time in commercials that sell feelings such as joy and satisfaction with products such as a juicy hamburger.

Style and comfort

Even if a shirt’s graphic design is superb, if the physical shirt is not comfortable or stylish enough to wear, especially for women who are generally more style-conscious, the shirt will stay in the drawer.

It pays to take this into account when you order the shirts. As much as you may be tempted to cut costs, take overall value into consideration. Order a nice variety of shirts.

Another consideration is the thickness or body of the shirt. Heavily discounted shirts that you see advertised on the Internet may be so thin as to be virtually see-through. That may be fine for wearing around the house but if you want to see your message circulating in public, it pays to select higher, thicker quality.

Advertising effectiveness

Judge a shirt’s advertising effectiveness by answering what it is you’re hoping to achieve from people wearing it? It could be as simple as promoting brand awareness. People often like to wear shirts that are as simple as, say, a Nike swoosh logo. To the wearer it’s cool. For Nike it’s another time that their brand logo gets noticed by people in public.

The message might be more complex like announcing the grand opening of a new business. The shirt may serve to inform people about the new place or the festivities, and then past that date, it may be more like a souvenir shirt that reinforces the brand.

Some promotional shirts are more like morale boosters for employees to wear. Again be aware that the message should be something that will cause people to feel good when they wear it. It should be something that an employee will be pleased to talk about if someone asks about it.

Effectiveness may also involve how your message survives time. To get the most bang for your buck, think long-term yield from the design. It may be geared initially for a timely event, but it helps to consider how the design will hold up in 6 months or a year.


When a shirt is being designed for the public to wear, it may not necessarily be a message that a corporate officer (or even you) would rather see. Think end user. You might want a shirt that says “Our company is great!” but your employees or fans may want one that says “Our company kicks butt.”

The point is to match the message you want to send with the tastes, as close as you can determine them to be, of those who will do the wearing. Think about such variables as gender, culture, age, region. If you’re going to sell shirts to Oregon Duck fans, don’t design in Beaver orange and black.

All this may entail putting something out there that you personally may not like all that much but your research data, ad people, or designer suggest will be the most effective with your target, the people you are trying to reach.

At Creativity On we can help you make your choices with our years of experience. We can help you select a nice variety of garments at great prices. We can make suggestions on artistic techniques to meet your objectives, including whether to use printing or embroidery.

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