This is the second post in my series on “How to Make a Great Tech T-Shirt“.
Know Why You Are Making the Shirt
Believe it or not, one of the most important steps in making a great t-shirt is having clarity on why you are making the shirt in the first place.
In my original blog post, “Why T-Shirts Matter“, I covered a lot of the high level reasons that T-Shirts are important for high tech companies. In terms of setting goals for your project, however, it’s important to clearly understand the purpose of the t-shirt.
- Celebrating a Product Launch. This is a common shirt at high tech companies, and represents a type of wearable trophy for the team. Typically, these t-shirts don’t go to everyone at the company, unless the product really is a company-wide event. These shirts tend to focus primarily on the product name, rather than the team or company.
- Team Identity. New teams are creating in technology organizations periodically. When they are formed, there’s always a challenge communicating to the rest of the company that the team exists, and establishing a sense of pride in the new entity. T-Shirts can solve this problem elegantly. These shirts typically are made only for the team itself, but in some cases, giving them out to the whole company can help establish visibility more effectively than any number of company-wide emails or announcements.
- Event. These shirts are made to celebrate an event or a one-time program. This can be a news event, like announcing a milestone for the company, or a company-wide function like a summer picnic. These shirts tend to focus on a combination of the event and the date, providing living proof that “you were there”. Typically, they are given only to the people who helped attend the event.
- Publicity. These shirts tend to skew towards the Marketing side of the house, but sometimes shirts are made in volume to help publicly represent the company or a product. They are designed to be mass replicated, and typically have more cost constraints due to the volume. Ironically, most people inside the company don’t get these shirts, since they are produced for potential customers or partners.
- The Company Shirt. These shirts are generic, but are the simple, best representation of the company. There’s no excuse for these shirts not to be high quality and well thought out. Once they are designed, they tend to be replicated over and over again since they are a staple for both new employees and giveaways.
The reason that picking a goal matters is that when we get to different design options, the purpose naturally affects the choices you make in terms of text and design. If a shirt is being distributed outside the company, for example, typically simple representation of the brand is preferred. The smaller the audience, the more idiosyncratic it can be.
Example: LinkedIn for Android
For example, this shirt was made to celebrate the launch of LinkedIn for Android (Goal #1):
This was the front of the shirt. The back just says: “LinkedIn for Android”. We printed it on an American Apparel tri-blend shirt (50% poly, 25% cotton, 25% rayon), in a very fitted / modern cut. (Thanks to @bhaggs on the Twitter team – got the idea for the shirt type from their company shirt).
The truth is, this was a high enough quality execution that we easily could have morphed this to Goal #3, since basically the whole company wanted one. That’s not atypical when you execute Goal #1 or Goal #2 particularly well.
We’ll cover more design options in an upcoming post. For now, if you are beginning a t-shirt project, it’s worth thinking ahead of time what the goal of your project really is.