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Blog / Marketing tips / T-Shirt Marketing: Turning Your Brand’s Story into Marketing Success

Marketing tips

T-Shirt Marketing: Turning Your Brand’s Story into Marketing Success

T-Shirt Marketing: Turning Your Brand’s Story into Marketing Success
Farah Siddiqui

By Farah Siddiqui

9 min read

Want to invest in marketing but have financial limitations? Looking for affordable ways to help your brand reach the masses with a limited marketing budget? We’ve got you covered.

Marketing is constantly evolving, providing ways to get around financial constraints. Finite resources are no longer an excuse for businesses not to market their products.

One way to do that? T-shirt marketing.

T-shirts have been a staple in fashion through the ages. They’ve also been a great way to promote your company. Savvy marketers use t-shirts as walking advertisements to rep a brand. This tactic is easy and effective, and has helped transform the marketing landscape for companies around the globe. Let’s learn how to do it.

What is t-shirt marketing?

T-shirt marketing involves creating custom-designed t-shirts with the aim of promoting a brand, cause, or an event. It allows businesses to showcase their logos, message, artwork, product images, or slogans on the t-shirts.

This line of attack integrates the comfort of wearing tees with the promotional power of branding—that’s the key. Businesses have unlocked success stitch by stitch with t-shirt marketing strategies.

How can your business benefit from a t-shirt marketing strategy?

Branded t-shirt marketing has gained popularity in the realm of experiential and promotional marketing. Let’s explore what it has to offer for your business.

Brand awareness 

How old is your favorite t-shirt? Mine is about 8 years old.

People live in tees—there’s just nothing like them. Most of us have a hard time parting ways with a shirt once we’ve made it a staple in our rotation. And businesses can benefit from this. 

By putting your brand on a t-shirt, it’ll not only build solid brand recognition, but stand the test of time if its wearer falls in love with the fit and design.

Create a tee that’ll advertise your brand but that people will want to wear and you’ve got the recipe for success. 

Customer engagement

As we know, brands are leveraging the popularity of tees to build an emotional connection with potential customers. This customer engagement is a great way to tap into the unlimited potential of the market. 

Use promotional t-shirts as part of marketing campaigns customers will want to engage with. This will help your brand build relationships with them, and customers will be more responsive in the long run. 

Remember, successful customer engagement often translates to higher customer satisfaction and increased loyalty, which we’ll cover next.


Loyalty is the key to enduring success—it fuels growth for your business. 

Loyalty stems from delivering beyond a customer’s expectations. Design t-shirt marketing campaigns with cool t-shirt designs and uncompromising quality that people will want to wear again and again and you’ll be in the beyond category. 

If your products are as high-quality as your advertising merch, the formula is: a solid marketing strategy + great promotional t-shirts =  more sales and happy return customers. It’s that simple.

T-shirt marketing possibilities

It’s probably time for you to be thinking about your own marketing, so let’s get started.

Use your imagination and come up with some fun t-shirt marketing ideas that’ll get your customers excited. Sound a little hard? No worries, we’re at your service. 

Get inspo from the examples below and a set a new direction for your next marketing strategy.

T-shirt giveaways

Who doesn’t like giveaways? I think we all do.

T-shirt giveaways are a great way to promote your brand and make customers happy. Giveaways build excitement around your business, give customers something they want, and help them feel appreciated by your brand.

For instance, Coca-Cola came up with a t-shirt marketing campaign in 2015. The company installed branded t-shirt giveaway machines at three of the busiest rail stations in London. The participants were asked to tweet with the hashtag #ChooseHappiness. The machine would then dispense a branded t-shirt along with a free coke. The campaign cleverly highlighted the business and people became Coca-Cola brand advocates, wearing the company merch.

coca cola t-shirt marketing example

Source: Coca Cola's T-shirt giveaway

Netflix also came up with a Stranger Things t-shirt giveaway. The exclusive giveaway created buzz around the series when 3 lucky winners in the US got Hellfire Club Stranger Things t-shirts autographed by Joe Quinn. This t-shirt marketing campaign helped boost interest in the show and may have contributed to an increase in viewership. 

T-shirt giveaways don’t instantly generate sales but it’s the kind of promotion that keeps on giving to your business.

Social media contests

Social media contests are a fun way to increase interest and traffic to your social media sites. Always remember: the greater the organic traffic, the higher the sales.

Custom designed, limited edition promotional t-shirts given away as prizes in social media contests make the crowd go wild. Especially since social media posts geared towards t-shirt marketing garner a lot of attention (people love free gifts!). 

If you design fun contests across your social media platforms, it’ll help build hype around your brand and get people interested. But remember to keep it simple. You can ask participants to follow and like your social media account, re-share a specific post, encourage them to use certain hashtags, ask them to tag their friends, request to share their responses, or even ask interested buyers to vote for their favorite custom t-shirts. 

Take Building Our Bookshelves, for instance. This “bookstagram” hosted a t-shirt giveaway on instagram by teaming up with Bjork Print. The participants were asked to follow and save both instagram accounts and leave a comment with their favorite book or series on the giveaway post. Participants could win an extra entry by re-sharing the giveaway post and by tagging friends in the comments. This t-shirt giveaway caught the attention of book lovers everywhere wanting to share their recommendations and win a cool t-shirt. 

t-shirt marketing example

Source: Building Our Bookshelves

Similarly, Aggieland Outfitters came up with an instagram contest where participants could win a t-shirt from their collection. All they had to do was follow the brand’s instagram account, like their t-shirt giveaway post, tag friends, and share the giveaway post on stories. This clever giveaway generated interest in their latest collection and propelled the brand’s reach further.

instagram t-shirt marketing

Source: @aggieoutfitters Instagram


Merch stores

You can take t-shirt marketing one step further by making your branded tess available in your merch store. It’s a great way to promote your brand (and make some money!). Many major companies have been doing it for years now.

Take NASA’s merch store, for instance, where fans can get items that showcase their interest in space exploration. The store promotes what NASA is doing, and helps followers connect with the company’s mission and achievements. Some tee designs have retro vibes, some are perfect for teens who are dreaming about space adventures, some have famous space-related quotes, and some just show NASA in all its glory.

PlayStation also has a merch store for its passionate gaming community. Loyal fans of PlayStation games instantly connect with the gaming-specific designs on the promotional t-shirts. Some t-shirt designs evoke a sense of nostalgia, and others help show the wearer’s allegiance to the gaming community. The PlayStation Gear store has recently launched a limited edition set of t-shirts.

Learn more: T-Shirt Design Ideas for Every Occasion

These promotional merch items help boost marketing efforts and build relationships with loyal customers—a win-win all around.

How to design a compelling t-shirt to promote your business

We’ve seen how beneficial it can be to use t-shirts to market your brand, but maybe you’re thinking “that’s a lot of work.” Not so! You don’t need any expertise to design a chic t-shirt. Print-on-demand providers like Printful have made it easier than ever to create excellent original designs with exceptional quality on different white-label products

But you do have to focus on certain things to create promotional t-shirt designs that people are going to love. Keep reading for what to keep in mind to make your design stand out.

Know your target audience

With endless possibilities for t-shirt designs, you have to opt for something that’ll grab the attention of potential customers. For instance, if your brand is geared towards teens, go for t-shirts with trendy, modern designs or humorous slogans. Or if your niche is centered on throwback styles, think about tees with a vintage flair.

The more your t-shirt designs resonate with your niche market, the better the chances that it will help promote your brand to the right customers. 

Play with color and fonts

Another thing that matters when creating the perfect t-shirt for marketing purposes? Colors. 

You can’t promote your brand if the tee’s aesthetic is off. Focus on the shades, tints, tones, and hues of your custom shirt  and broaden your color psychology. Play around with the color wheel and choose colors that communicate the essence of your brand. It’ll help you create a design harmony that matches your brand’s story and makes your promotional tee stand out to your target audience (in a good way!). 

Take these tees from Asos, they’re vibrant and attention-grabbing in terms of colors.

If you have messaging on your tee, readability also matters, so be smart with fonts. An appropriately-sized font balances the visual appeal of the design.

You can also use fonts to create a visual hierarchy and direct the viewer’s attention to certain elements in the design. Remember to focus on what suits your branding ideology best.

Learn more: A Step-by-Step T-Shirt Design Placement Guide

Nike, for example, carefully blends fonts to create designs that enhance the overall aesthetics of their t-shirt design. 

Collaborate with artists and influencers

Collaborating with artists or influencers on exclusive designs will generate a lot of attention and buzz. Successful partnerships with well-known people will elevate brand awareness. 

It’s always a good idea to partner with influencers or artists that have a strong following in your target market and are seen as trustworthy. These collaborations help businesses to tap into an existing follower base, create excitement for the unique designs, and hopefully drive demand and boost sales. 

Check out this luxury Versace t-shirt that showcases pop artist Andy Warhol’s work—truly a fantastic collaboration.

t-shirt artist collaboration

Source: Versace

Partnering with well-known artists can also help set t-shirt trends for your promotional items, which customers will look forward to. 

Tee marketing made simple

Creating a custom shirt might take some work, but Printful’s print-on-demand services can do the heavy lifting. Focus on your design and marketing strategy, and we’ll take care of the rest. 

Our services ensure smooth sailing from bringing your t-shirt design to life, printing and fulfillment, to shipping. You don’t need to worry about purchasing t-shirts upfront, storing inventory, or having to send out orders. 

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Closing round 

T-shirts are great for sporting, sleeping, and everything in between. They’re cute, comfortable, and go well with anythingthere’s no downside! So it’s about time you revamp your marketing strategy and benefit from the low-cost/high-reach action of promotional tees.

Remember, when done right, the benefits of having a t-shirt marketing strategy are two-fold: it cements your brand’s identity in the mind of potential customers, and will eventually help you to boost sales as your brand grows. And you never know, with fantastic designs that people love it could even turn into a full-blown t-shirt business!

Read next:

Best Quality T-shirts For Printing

8 Effective T-Shirt Ads (And Why They Work)

Good luck and let us know how it goes in the comments.


By Farah Siddiqui on Jul 11, 2023

Farah Siddiqui

Guest author

Farah is a freelance writer at Printful. She is a passionate educator and nature-admiring explorer who loves to travel the world.

Farah is a freelance writer at Printful. She is a passionate educator and nature-admiring explorer who loves to travel the world.