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The Anatomy of a Successful Promotional T-Shirt

How we dress is one of the most powerful ways we can express ourselves as consumers. We as individuals use the clothes we wear to construct our identities, to say something of our personalities and our preferences. This is one thing that makes promotional t-shirts so powerful as marketing pieces; when we see people wearing them—especially our friends and peers—we automatically jump to the conclusion that that person in some way or another supports the company or organization behind the t-shirt, and that in turn causes us to think that maybe we could too, then.

Yet not all promotional t-shirts are created equal. A person might walk miles in a promotional t-shirt, or nowhere at all, depending on the particular makeup of the shirt.


Some companies take a “one size fits all” approach when they make branded t-shirts for their promotional marketing, ordering extra large shirts that they know will fit just about everyone in theory, but no one perfectly. The problem with this approach is that not everyone wants to wear an extra large t-shirt, and some people will even find themselves swimming in a t-shirt that large. Many extra large shirts, then, end up in the pajama dresser drawer rather than in the drawers reserved for everyday wear.

A successful promotional t-shirt makes it to the everyday wear drawer. And it does more than simply fit the consumer it’s destined for; shirts for women will feature a more flattering cut for women, while shirts for men might feature a cut specifically tailored to a male physique.


We’ve come a long way from yesterday’s simple 100 percent cotton promo t-shirts. Now you’ll find shirts made from a wide variety of materials, all made to maximize comfort. Some of today’s most popular materials among consumers are cotton-polyester blends, 100% cationic polyester, and ultra soft-spun cotton. You can never go wrong with an ultra soft blend fabric, and it’s also a good idea to tailor your t-shirt material to your brand if it makes sense. A sporting goods company, for example, might put out shirts made of 100% cationic polyester to appeal to an athletic audience.


Of course your shirt’s design will play a major role in the overall success of your promo t-shirt as well. You’ll want to opt for a design that people will be proud to wear and that will appeal to your target audience. Opt for on-trend colors; enlist your writing team to come up with a catchy slogan; pour some extra energy into your graphic design pursuits; seek inspiration from the best. The possibilities are truly endless here—just remember that at the end of the day you want this shirt to migrate to the front of the closet instead of getting stuck somewhere in the back.

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