T-Shirt Girl Geek

The Best Way To Promote Your Startup – T-Shirts

in Startup

I love t-shirts. Doesn’t everybody? So we give out a lot of Budgetable t-shirts, and they have been a great success. Guy Kawasaki says in his book, The Art of the Start, that at one time Apple had a $2 million per year t-shirt expense! Let’s look at why giving out t-shirts is such an effective way to connect with your customers.

Make Love, Not Crap

I’ve always wondered why some companies give away crap like refrigerator magnets and frisbees. Is it just laziness, lack of creativity, or because getting a thousand magnets printed up is cheap? I’m guessing it’s a mix of all of this. But seriously, when is the last time you played frisbee? It’s really just a waste –a waste of time, money, and resources.

Ultimately, by not putting thought into your company’s swag, you’re just making yourself look cheap and tasteless. You’re creating a business, so why not put some artistry into your brand? I think it makes the world a better place, I really do.

By spending a little extra money to get some really cool t-shirts printed up, you are giving your customers something they’ll use, and they’ll love you for it. It makes people happy –that’s what this is all about, right?

Your Customers Are Part of Your Team

At Budgetable, the people who use our software are sincerely our number one focus –that is, they are our friends, and we treat them like it. We want our users to feel not only as if they are part of our team, but part of our success.

When you give your customers a t-shirt with your logo on it, you are contributing to that person’s identity –especially if you design something really great that you know they’ll sport. You are, in a sense, giving that person entry into the club –they’ll feel special and they should if you have an awesome brand. Skateboarding companies have known this for years.

Spreading The Love

Ever seen a commercial on TV and wonder why a company would spend millions on it? I mean, it’s not like you’re going to jump up and go buy their product, right? Well, that’s not what they are attempting to do. Instead, they are very cleverly establishing the brand itself –that is, when you see a commercial, you automatically (and quite unconsciously) increase the reputation of that brand in your mind.

The purpose of most commercials is to add legitimacy to the brand so that the next time you are at the store, you’ll be more likely to choose a product thats brand you recognize! This is how brands become “Name Brand”.

Most startups can’t afford this kind of marketing, and even if they could, probably wouldn’t be ready for it. T-shirts are a great way to achieve the same effect as a commercial, only on a smaller scale. In fact, for startups, t-shirts are an even better way to increase your reputation because they are more personal. Your early adopters will be your biggest promoters, so give them something great like a cool t-shirt to kick off the conversation.

Tips For Creating A Great T-Shirt

  • Your logo matters. Do yourself a favor and hire a real artist to design your logo. Your logo is your company’s face, so make it sexy!
  • White is boring, and so is black. Your company needs a color scheme. These are colors that people mentally associate with your brand. I would pick between 2 and 3 colors and stick with them for everything. People should be able to see the colors together and identify the brand –think red/yellow (McDonalds), purple/yellow (Budgetable).
  • Don’t try to be funny. I know it’s tempting to come up with something witty to put on your t-shirts, but I would advise against this. The problem is that not everyone has the same sense of humor and you run the risk of confusing and/or offending some people. Plus, you don’t want anything to take attention off your brand itself. Your brand should be the focus of your t-shirts.
  • Lastly, use a quality shirt. We print Budgetable shirts on American Apparel because they make a great shirt. Printing on a better quality shirt will make a big difference. Think about how more likely you are to wear a t-shirt that feels and fits great.
Ryan Bales

About Ryan Bales

Ryan is the Founder and CEO of Bync, which he founded in 2012.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

francis November 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Thanks for the great article. How would you recommend distributing the t-shirts?


Ryan November 21, 2011 at 1:25 pm

It’s up to you — It could be as simple as sending a tweet out. Don’t worry, your fans will respond.


Carrie - Careful Cents November 24, 2011 at 8:09 am

I totally agree. When companies give me random (read: non-useful) promotion items, it’s a total turn off and I don’t even want to find out more about that company. Anyone remember the snowglobe disaster of Fincon11? Lol

Tshirts are way cooler and more practical. I love wearing them and answering questions when people ask me about the brand.


Ryan Bales November 24, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Haha, I remember when I pulled out that snow globe… was like, “oh this was a terrible idea”


Jordan Avner April 9, 2012 at 1:57 pm

I totally agree! We did a run of a bunch of shirts a couple months ago for one of my companies. Some of us thought that we should just put our logo front and center, while others thought it would be better to make a shirt that people would actually buy.
We decided to let our fans on facebook make the decision. We posted pics of each. It was an easy choice. Here’s a link to the post http://on.fb.me/IjiLGq


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