My clients hear me say this all the time – make a cool shirt first, make a logoed shirt second. No one wants to be your billboard unless the shirt is a reflection of them, their interests, or their style.
This is a shirt for a band here in San Diego, Vokab Kompany (you might not have heard of them yet, but you will – they are sweet). We produced shirts with their logo and they sell them at shows. They know exactly the type of person that follows their music and they sell apparel (or as the bands call it – “merch”) that their audience would dig. All fine for a cool band, but how can a corporation employ the same strategy, bring the cool factor, and build a culture?
Several years ago, we did a large order of shirts for a certain national bank. Their goal in giving shirts away was to encourage potential customers to sign up for a checking account. The front of the shirt had their logo, their slogan, and a big picture of a stagecoach. Would a shirt like that motivate you to take part in a company’s programs? Exactly. Well, give them credit, in time they figured it out. For a more recent promotion, the same bank wanted to encourage college students to sign up for a checking account. How did they do it?
No logo, no message, no stagecoach – just a cool image on the front and a small website on the back. We produced a shirt that a college kid would not only want to wear, but actually sign up for a checking account to get. How do I know it worked? They came back to me for re-order after re-order. I also saw someone wearing the shirt on the show “Rob and Big” on MTV. Cool factor? I think so.
Advice to companies considering a t-shirt promotion:
1. Profile your audience – who are they?
2. Create a design that represents them first, your company second.
3. Encourage them to take an action – after all, you are giving them a cool shirt.