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The Fine Print: Let's talk about tees!

How to Create an Amazing Brand on a Micro Budget

brand building

When you’re starting a new business, building your brand is a huge part of your success but it can be a challenge on a limited budget and dealing with time constraints. This can be stressful especially if you have to start repaying a loan from profits or have to answer to an investor.

Don’t get lost at the starting gate by panicking over what you can’t afford. Instead focus on strategies that will help you to build a brand that people will begin to know, trust and love.

Stick with simple and clear messaging. You might be tempted to get fancy and witty with your messaging but stay on target to create messaging that is straightforward and relatable. Too much clutter and your brand’s identity will be lost. People don’t have time to guess what you offer by adding unneeded layers of mystery. What you may think of as clever, customers may think of as inflated puffery.

core message strategy

Consider minds like Steve Jobs, “Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.”

Figuring out your core message is about ideology. What problem will your products or services solve? How will your products or services improve your customers life and most importantly, how will your products or services make the customer feel about themselves? Distilling all of these important elements into messaging can be tough but it’s important to bring it down to a statement or an expression that embodies all of these characteristics.

standing out from competitors

It may help to figure out what your business is not. Make a list of things you hate about your competitors products or services and build upon that to decide what makes you different and how you achieve this difference. People demand an experience these days from brands. Those are the ones that develop cult followings. Developing an immersive experience for your customers also begets a lot of free advertising as people that have experienced something remarkable will want to tell their friends.

Small marketing budgets do not automatically equate low quality creatives. It’s ideal to hire the very best when it comes to graphic design but when you go with a designer that works at an agency, you’re going to pay a premium as that designer’s employer has to pay all the overhead expenses that come with running an agency.

Get creative when looking for a design professional. With the freedom of access the Internet affords, you can easily shop around for a quality artist that offers their services at a reasonable price. The rock bottom cheapest way to make a logo is to use an online designer that allows you to make it yourself. This is not recommended though because although it looks cheap at first, being able to download the design at a high resolution, and with all the different formats, costs more money. Additionally, when you start with one of their templates and simply plug in your text, you will not have an original design specific to you and you won’t own the artwork either.

It’s far better to spend a little bit of money on a site like 99Designs, eLance, or UpWork to work with real graphic designers that can produce art that will translate into all aspects of your advertising. Whether it is a logo for your shop’s window or a custom t-shirt design ready for print it’s critical to work with a designer that understands different print methods and the requirements for each. For example, custom t-shirt art needs to be no less than 300 DPI and preferably in a vector format. They should also understand that designs with lots of colors will be more expensive to print and be able to simplify your design for varying print methods.

branded business t-shirts

Custom t-shirts for your business are a very economical way to broadcast your brand’s message. Using them as a customer giveaway is a clever way to build brand recognition. Familiarity is directly related to buying decisions. Brand awareness impacts two situations when it comes to purchases. 1. When a consumer needs to recall a product or service because they are actively looking to solve a problem. 2. When choices between brands are set before them in an environmental situation. In each case, familiarity with a brand influences the consumer’s choice.

Consistency with your brand’s style will reinforce familiarity. Once you’ve settled on your messaging and style stick with it. This is how brands build iconic status. Your color scheme and visuals should remain static so your branding translates to your products or services as dependable and reliable.

Building a brand identity is not really about money. It’s about the beliefs you able to instill through messaging and of course delivering on expectations for a great experience with your business and its products and services.

How to Choose the Right Fonts for your T-shirt Design

t-shirt word art

Fonts can make or break a t-shirt design. It all comes down to how you want the t-shirt design to impact the person wearing it and viewing it. Does it effectively communicate the message or the brand’s perspective? Will the wearer feel proud of the design? Do you want the t-shirt to be worn for years or will people use it to wash their car next month? Choosing the right font or combination of fonts can have a huge impact on how your t-shirt design will be received by the person intended to wear it.

It’s well worth your time to be choosey when making a decision about what font(s) to use. If you’re a seasoned designer, you’re likely familiar with many fonts and have amassed a library to choose from but keep in mind, what translates well in a digital sphere doesn’t necessarily translate as well on a t-shirt design. If you’re new to t-shirt design, taking the time to review and apply lots of different fonts to your design is worth the trouble to find the perfect combination.

Fonts can vary moderately or dramatically and they influence the readability and comprehension of the message. The size of font you use in your t-shirt design can also impact emotions and feelings of connectivity. Your choice of font can even impact how people perceive the credibility behind the message. For example, a serious message delivered using Comic Sans is going to feel less legitimate than if you used Ariel. This is something that should be heavily weighted if you’re designing for a nonprofit, hospital, or government agency.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule. If the message is meant to appeal to or represent a specific segment of society the font can be fun even if it’s representing an entity that is normally conservative. Some examples are, a design for children’s hospital event, a nonprofit that is putting on event to raise funds for a children’s cause, or a government agency looking to communicate to children.

In some cases, even familiarity with a font can impact how the message is received. It makes sense, if someone is familiar with a font, it’s easier to read and digest the message, so keep that in mind if you’re design needs to be text heavy.

When choosing a font, the majority are designated in two distinct ways, serif and sans serif. There is also cursive and brush, and the last category of decorative. The decorative segment houses every font outlier that is non-traditional. Use of these fonts is of course personal preference. Serif and sans serif are traditionally used for smaller text but are not attention grabbers. Script, brush, and those that fall under the category of decorative are more popular for t-shirt designs because they are more stimulating as a headline. That’s not say you can’t incorporate serif and sans serif into the design. They are often used in conjunction with decorative for some elements of the design. This is a traditional standard when designing across all types of print and display channels.

In many cases though, using serif and sans serif fonts alone can have a stimulating effect. This is true particularly when the message is brief and therefore can be printed very large on the shirt. There are many famous examples of designs that use only one basic font printed large across the t-shirt. Nike, Choose Life, Frankie says RELAX, Keep Calm and Carry On, and the Helvetica list shirt are a few examples. In fact minimalist design offers a soothing aesthetic that is typically associated with newer brands.

There is something very calming about plain lettering surrounded by negative or white space that allows the viewer to focus simply on the message. Simple design can transmit an expectation for the experience with the company or brand that conveys the relationship will be easy, accessible, and honest. Fat round serif fonts can emulate cheeriness or and sense of fun.

Ask yourself the following questions to help narrow down your font choices. Who are you designing this t-shirt for? If you’re designing for a sorority, look for fresh, modern, and creative fonts. If you’re designing for a tech company, stick with clean and easy to read fonts. If you’re designing for a construction company, look for bold and rugged font that will convey solidity and reliability.

What is the end goal of this t-shirt design? Are you trying to gain trust? Avoid overly decorative fonts and stick to Plain Jane’s. Are you trying to be fun or cute? Decorative and rounded fonts can communicate this sentiment.

What is more valuable, the design aspect or the ability to read the message? This will dictate whether you use script and decorative fonts or serifs. Not that all script fonts are challenging when it comes to legibility but to go super scripty, a person may need to have a few seconds to process it. Depending on all the elements that need to go into the design, you could find a compromise by making the script a larger font than other aspects of the design.

We offer t-shirt designers a good selection of fonts to use in their designs but with all the fonts available on the web today, you may find others you can use if you have access to design software like Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. Here are a few of our favorites available in our design studio that we commonly see used in our customers designs.

anton font for t-shirt design
bebas neue font for t-shirt design
bromello font for t-shirt design
new athletic font for t-shirt design
ostrich font for t-shirt design

How to Get the Most out of Millennial Employees

millennials in the workplace

Whether you have a start-up company or are trying to breathe new life into an established business, one thing for sure is you’re going to need millennial employees. That’s anyone born between 1980 and 2000 and it represents the most massive segment of society in U.S. recorded history. However, unless your one of them yourself, you’re going to need to understand a little about them before taking them on as employees.

Millennials are broadly defined as narcissistic. Initially that sounds like a negative thing, in a work force it can be good if you’re able to navigate and harness that characteristic in a positive way. Millennials have no need to respect a hierarchy because they basically didn’t have one growing up. Previous generations like Baby Boomers and Generation X took on the Establishment and essentially disbanded it as it had previously been known. Parents from those generations wanted their children to have a better life and feel like they could do anything so that’s what they told their children and of course they believed it.

Instilling self-esteem became paramount and was projected into Millennials with awards, praise, and constant reminders of their value and worth. However, since the rest of the world is not comprised of their parents, Millennials may have a hard time entering the work force to find out that they are indeed not special. Awards are given based upon performance and no accolades are showered for showing up every day.

They live in an environment that is dictated by their peers. This is because they’ve grown up with technology that allows them to be in constant contact with their friends and therefore do not feel the need to interact and learn from people with experience. While all of these traits sound daunting and not particularly desirable in an employee there are ways you can position your company to appeal to and extrapolate the best facets of these traits to propel your businesses interests.

millennial workforce

More than anything it is said that Millennials need to experience a sense of fulfillment. What they do needs to matter and produce meaningful results, and also assuage their anxiety that they might be missing out on something better. The latter is a result of being hyper connected to rest of the world and of course something amazing is always going on in one of their peers lives. Growing up with channels like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook have provided them with outlets to broadcast anything. This type of airing of ideas and messages was previously barred by, and limited to huge companies that could pay for broadcast time on traditional channels. Because they’ve seen so many of their peers turn into microcelebrities, they are acutely aware that uniqueness has value.

This highly developed sense of individuality can lead to a lot of creativity because creativity is awarded with likes and followers. Not every position in a company will require creativity so it can be a struggle to offer that outlet as an enticement and to promote retention. You could meet that need by offering some other avenue for creative fulfillment like online workshops or even on site classes that are geared towards Millennial interests. Be aware that these interests are not necessarily going to intersect with your business. Offering a bookkeeping course is not going to help these employees with self-actualization and the need to demonstrate their individual talents.

Millennials can help catapult your business on social media if you’re publishing content they can relate to and be proud to associate with. Inviting these employees to contribute to these channels is a sure fire way to get them to interact with your posts. Feature them in pictures with back stories as to what they are doing and how their efforts bring worth to your company.

Millennials are not known to be loyal to the concept of the company, they are however loyal to people so having management that understand this trait and are able to manage on a relationship level versus a hardline “do as I say” style is going to be extremely critical to your success.

Work/Life Balance is important to all but particularly important to Millennials. In fact unlike their predecessors, they are not willing to put in a 50-70 hour work week just to get the job done. This is because they perceive their parents missed out on important family time and personal development while corporations advanced their bottom line while simultaneously whittling away at the benefits and job security their hard work was supposed to have earned.

Finally, giving your Millenial workforce the freedom of expression in their appearance is amazingly important to them. This should not come as a surprise being that they are characterized as narcissistic. If you have a business that requires some type of uniformity for the benefit of your customer like a restaurant for example, you need to make sure that uniform is something they will proud to wear.

Pride can be the result of an on-trend design and a stylish t-shirt product. It’s really important to consider how your businesses image reflects upon these employees and vice versa. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine if they would go out in the world after work and still wear their uniform because they are proud of where they work or if it’s more likely they would change before being seen by their friends. If it’s the latter, think about what needs to change about your t-shirt design that would make it more fashionable, edgy, or thought provoking.

Attracting and retaining Millennial employees is really important since they make up so much of the current workforce. While there is lot of debate about this particular generation, as a business owner you can’t afford to ignore the massive potential they offer and the fresh eyes and perspective they can lend towards your businesses message and services.

How Custom T-Shirts Can Help Build Customer Relationships with Your Brand

Business T-shirt Example

Having a special custom t-shirt design for your business puts you in a different category than run of the mill businesses because it shows creativity and demonstrates to customers that you have a vision along with a unique value proposition. Custom business t-shirts are an economical way to brand your business to bring your message to a broad spectrum of potential customers.

When customers wear your logoed t-shirt, it’s an instant endorsement of your services to their friends. Having this kind of endorsement is one of the most powerful persuasive techniques you can use. People trust recommendations from their friends far more than any advertising you can buy. Using a fresh and creative design can help make your business appear more likeable and relevant to younger generations as well.

There’s quite a few ways that custom t-shirts can help to promote your business. One of the most obvious is the mobility of this type of advertisement. People wear t-shirts just about anywhere. They are casual and comfortable and are a staple of anyone’s wardrobe. By its popularity, a t-shirt will be worn to stores, games, concerts, workplaces, gyms, schools, just about anywhere that offers a relaxed environment. Not only do people see your custom t-shirt design once, but the probability that it will be worn multiple times increases the number of impressions this advertisement can generate. This type of repeat visual connection to your businesses message is invaluable to your branding. When designing your business t-shirt with this goal in mind, use bright and bold colors just like you would any other advertisement.

An awesome design for your custom t-shirt can also be a point of discussion. It’s difficult to get people’s attention with traditional advertising because people are bombarded with it on every platform. Using custom business shirts as conversation starters is a smart way to open doors. How valuable would it be you as a business owner for a stranger to approach you and ask about the meaning behind your logo or messaging? It’s the reversal of a cold call. If your design is eye-catching and features an interesting message, you may have the chance to introduce your businesses services or products and hand out your business card for follow up conversations.

T-shirts used as contest giveaways is another way to share your brand. Who doesn’t like free stuff? Giveaways are tremendously popular on social media channels like Facebook. You can ask people to comment on your social media post about the giveaway and this comment will show up to their friends as something they’ve recently reacted to further extending eyes on your business as well as growing your social audience. Be sure to review the rules on social media giveaways.

If you have a list of prospects you’ve wanted to connect with in a meaningful way, try sending them a branded t-shirt to start the conversation. It’s certainly more memorable than an email or a flyer and gives you an excuse to call just to see if they’ve received your gift. When you’re giving something of value away people will be more likely to take your call and at least thank you for the gift. From there, it’s up to you to set a date when you can meet and talk more about your services or products.

Having your staff wear your t-shirts is another way to get your brand more recognition. Not only are they great as uniforms, but coming up with special designs for special occasions keep your message from getting stale. Consider unique designs for business anniversaries, company picnics and outings, or even the Christmas party.

How do you design a shirt that will be effective for promoting your business? It depends on your specific goals. Do you want people to ask questions about the t-shirt? Then provide material that would be conducive to that result like a curious slogan. Some big brand examples of this are the famous, “Got Milk?” The concept was originally designed by an advertising company to increase sales for the California Milk Processor Board. It was a hugely successful campaign and the slogan is still licensed to food and merchandise companies more than two decades later. Another example of a slogan that piques the curiosity is Apple’s “Think Differently.” Even if their logo is instantly recognizable, the slogan by itself invites people to ask the question, “how?”

If you’re looking for pure branding to get people familiar with your logo, make sure your logo is big enough on the t-shirt so that people will be able to make out the details from several feet away. Having your logo very small is not going to help with recognition if they have to squint to make it out. However if you’re including slogans, you’ll need to balance the two so one doesn’t overpower the other.

If you’re repurposing a design that you’ve used in other advertising, make sure to do a mockup of the design before printing. Sometimes a design that looks great on screen or on paper doesn’t translate as well on a t-shirt. In some cases, adjustments can be made to allow your design to effectively be used on all types of advertising included branded t-shirts for business.

The last aspect to take into account is the quality of the t-shirt product. This is particularly important if you’re using if for giveaways. The last thing you want people to do is associate your brand with cheap quality. 100% cotton tees are fantastic for many purposes but a poly blend product will typically feel more high quality.