It’s happened before. A company orders branded shirts for an event. The shipment arrives, and it’s like Christmas. Jaws start dropping as the marketing manager hoists the first shirt out of the box. There’s a typo.

Maybe you’re considering printed shirts as gifts for your internal employees. Or you could be thinking about using promotional branded wearables as a client marketing strategy in the new year. Regardless of your intention, you know the benefits of doling out company-branded shirts, and you’re looking now to take the next step. But there’s a part of you that feels a little terrified that you could end up in that misprint situation.

We’re here to help. The last situation you need is opening your delivered box of shirts with a poorly printed logo, on terrible quality materials, with a typo. We have put together a kind of shirt-ordering guide to help you organize your strategy before you place your print order. Having a plan before you order is half the battle. Start your checklist with these seven considerations.

Image & Brand Promotion


selective focus of t-shirts with print on hangers in clothing design studio

selective focus of t-shirts with print on hangers in clothing design studio

Before you take another step toward ordering your branded apparel, stop and reflect on your company’s brand image. You’ll want to make sure your deliverables are consistent with your overall brand voice and company culture. For example, if your company brand is fun and creative, offering a printed shirt in the same vein will reinforce that personality. If your brand is considered a classic pillar of industry, you’ll want to design a wearable with the same position of authority.

Target Market & Messaging

Reflect on your designated target audience. Who will be receiving these printed shirts? If your audience is internal staff, you’ll want to create a message and choose a product that your employees will be excited about and proud to wear. However, if you’re opting for client gifting or vendor appreciation, you may want to select a different message to display. Also, your intended audience may impact the variety of sizes you order. If you’re hosting a women’s conference, you’ll want to have women’s shirts to offer. Should you be planning an event without any knowledge of the sizes you’ll need, it’s best to have a few of each available size, including small and XXL.

Style Matters

There are a host of shirt styles from which to choose. Selecting the style of shirt that best complements your audience and marketing objective is key. For example, if the intended recipients routinely play golf, a sharp-looking polo might be best. If you’re handing out a branded wearable to the public, at a special event, a comfortable tee shirt is typically welcomed by everyone. Men and women’s apparel is designed to fit differently. Take into consideration which styles you will need to ensure each recipient feels as comfortable as possible.

Bonus Tip: Check out a live sample of the item before you order. It will help you determine which fabric is best for you, as well as sizing options. See samples of shirts, and even try one on before you place the order.

Fabric & Materials

Don’t go to all the trouble of making a significant investment and then choose the wrong fabric. The end-goal is to have others be comfortable in wearing your company-branded shirt. Choosing a stiff, heavy cotton blend when you should consider a moisture wicking material, for your golf shirt, could have your gift sitting in a closet instead of on display at the golf course. Explore the material options available in your chosen style of shirt. Think about when and how your recipients would wear this shirt. Be realistic with sizing and shrinking upon the first wash. Read customer reviews online to identify the various materials metrics, including true to size characteristics. Select the materials that are easy to care for, comfortable to wear, breathable, and top-quality.

EPS Color Matching

Preserving your brand image and inspire company recognition upon encountering your branded shirt means you absolutely have to have a matching logo and color. The best way to ensure your print partner creates the identical design and color is to submit your graphics via an eps file. Often referred to as a vector file, the eps file is an extension and format used in Adobe Illustrator. It typically contains a bitmap of the image, which will allow your print partner to properly match the print job accordingly. Take the guesswork out of the process. There are a host of additional details to consider when you’re in the design phase. A true print partner will help you navigate your selection. Having the highest resolution images to work with is a great place to start. Avoid getting your delivery of shirts, only to discover instead of Coca Cola red, your logo is printed with a Tide orange.

Bonus Tip: Make sure you see a virtual pdf proof of your artwork and design for approval before you buy.

Cost-Effective & Value Pricing

You may have a specific event or project in mind for your branded shirts. But, before you order, consider mid and long-term objectives as well. If you need shirts now, but could also offer shirts in 1Q or 2Q of 2020 for other events, ordering in volume now can help reduce your cost per shirt price. Leverage savings and take advantage of value pricing for larger quantity orders. It’s best to identify a print partner that can assist with the best pricing for one piece but also offers long-term partnerships and volume capabilities for 1000 pieces.

Bonus Tip: If you plan to volume order large quantities, it’s best to get a physical printed sample in hand before the order is completed entirely, just to make sure you approve the finished product.

Timing & Seasonal Appropriateness

Be mindful of timing when placing your order. During the holidays, many print companies are experiencing a high volume of orders. There could be inherent delays in typical order turnaround time. Place your orders within a window of time that allows for a few days or even a week or two of wiggle room. Have a deadline? Get that order four to six weeks prior to your date. Even if a print company claims to offer a three-day turnaround, avoid waiting until the last minute. In the event there is a print concern with your order, you’ll have time to make changes, accommodate a delay, or re-order elsewhere as a contingency plan.

Also, be conscious of the seasonal appropriateness of your shirts. For example, the colder months are ideal for sweatshirts. Hoodies in the heat of the summer might not be the best fit, nor would tanks in the snowy winter seasons.

Not putting in the thought strategy prior to your order means you can run the risk of not receiving your best-branded shirts. Not taking the time to consider each of these points can reflect poorly on the end product, and your company altogether. The great news is, you have a friend in the print business. To learn more about available products or ideas for your apparel order, contact us! We partner with companies for long-term results and know a thing or two about stretching your marketing budget for the best results.

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