A few million years ago, some enterprising caveman took his animal skin tunic and carefully shaved a message into the fur, advertising his rock-carving business or promoting the benefits of eating fresh mastodon.
Okay, so there’s no proof of that. There’s probably not even any suggestion of that. But we do know that the use of clothing as a means of promotion and advertising goes back quite a few years, somewhere this side of the sandwich board sign.
But like so many things that pre-date our own lives, we sometimes take this medium for granted and lose track of its value.
Nowadays, with the ease of getting customized t-shirts, there’s almost nobody who can’t benefit from putting some type of message on their clothing.
“Eat at Joe’s” isn’t the only thing our shirts can say these days. Here are a number of strategies for branding via custom apparel:
Commemoration of Events
Are you pulling off an annual reunion for extended family? It’s now easy and affordable to get customized shirts made for the attendees.
That makes the shirt more than just a souvenir. It’s a hands-free concierge to help lost attendees find their way to the rest of the group. It’s a uniform that helps you identify thieves who might try to slip into your group and pillage purses. And, by the same process as school uniforms, it’s a sort of visual cowbell for kids in your group who might wander off and need to be spotted quickly from a distance.
Taking a group of interns to a community service project? Set them up with matching t-shirts or even custom embroidered polo shirts bearing your company’s logo or a symbol to identify the project.
Or what about business outreach? If your company has a booth at an industry trade show, custom t-shirts are a great way to develop your brand and make connections.
This serves all kinds of helpful purposes. Again, it helps you keep your group together while doing a kind of reverse flagging of strangers. It also brings attention to the great stuff your company is doing, and highlights the project itself. That type of promotion–strategically marked with a website or twitter handle–is good for both the business and the project.
A Cheaper Way Than Uniforms
Remember the 1970s television show “Emergency!”, which focused on the Los Angeles County Fire Department? All the crew of Station 51 wore button-down uniforms with badges and name plates, day in and day out.
Check out today’s firefighters, paramedics, and police officers. Especially during special events or inclement weather, many of these professionals are leaving the collars at home and donning T-shirts that identify their professions and agencies, providing a professional appearance without a dry cleaning bill.
This value can be achieved with many different professions, and can make it more affordable to establish uniform standards for people who might not otherwise feel a uniform requirement is financially fair to them. Building security, school bus drivers, food service staff, and maintenance staff can present a polished face for a facility or company without being in apparel that restricts their ability to do their jobs.
Gone are the days of laborious manual design of shirts and time-intensive screen printing. Mechanization and computerization have brought custom apparel into almost anyone’s budget, making it an excellent branding strategy for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
About the Author: This article is written by Tara Miller