Using T-Shirts as a Conference or Event Giveaway

Keith T-Shirt Rules

T-shirts are a great event giveaway because people like to get them, especially guys. They work for almost any type from tradeshows to product launches, conferences to meetings. Beyond the event, they are a great way to get your brand out there and get people talking, especially if you have a consumer product.

T-shirts as a giveaway, tend to go south when meeting and event planners try and cut corners, save a couple of bucks and do things on the cheap. In the long run, doing this is an enormous waste of time, money and resources.

If you screw up a t-shirt as a giveaway after reading this, you will have no one but yourself to blame because I am going to give you step by instructions on how to create a t-shirt giveaway that people will love.

Step One -Choosing the shirt:

Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not get a cheap ass shirt, if you do that shows what you really think of your brand. When choosing the shirt, get samples and pretend that you are picking the shirt for the CEO of your company… If he or she wouldn’t wear it, then don’t you order it!

You want a nice, heavy weight cotton, not some weird blend or light weight item… this matters, especially for t-shirt connoisseurs like me.

Step Two – Choosing the color –

T- Shirts come in an amazing array of colors from blue to red, magenta to sunset orange. I would venture to say that if you can dream up a color, then there is probably a shirt that comes in that hue.

Here is where choosing the shirt color can get tricky because many meeting and event professionals, designers and marketing folks feel the need to subject the world to the awful color that is their brand… please, don’t.

I don’t care what your corporate or event brand is, you should never, under any circumstances choose a shirt that is hot pink, puke green, baby blue or any other “bad” color. If your brand is hot pink, choose a normal color for the shirt and use your brand color on the logo.

Don’t think that I am right? When was the last time that you saw a guy wearing a hot pink t-shirt?

I know my answer, it was on the beach in Florida. The guy that was wearing it was about 100 years old, wearing plaid shorts and sandals with black socks that were pulled up to his ding-dong……

Step Three – Logos, Tag Lines and Graphics –

You are forbidden to blow up your logo to epic size and stick it on the front of the shirt. YOU ARE FORBIDDEN…. Do not ever place a huge image on the front of a t-shirt, it is just wrong.

T-shirts can be something that an executive will wear if the shirt looks good.. for that reason you will put your logo or image on the front, breast pocket in a nice respectable, pocket size… nothing larger should ever go on the front of a good t-shirt.

For all larger graphics, images, logos and tag lines you will flip the shirt over and stick it on the back because this is where all big crap goes on a t-shirt… not the front…. ever.

There you have it….

These are some pretty simple rules to follow and they will ensure that your brand is treated with a little dignity and your t-shirt will actually be worn. I can not tell you how many times I have been to a tradeshow, gotten a t-shirt in some awful color with a giant, turkey platter sized logo on the front… want to know where that shirt ended up? That shirt ended up at the Salvation Army….

I sent it there because I don’t have the heart to throw away a servicable item of clothing and that dude on the beach with the plaid shorts and black socks has to get his shirts from somewhere!

Added bonus – Make sure that you order enough of the right sizes! Americans are fat… you should stock up on Large, Extra Large and XXL sizes. You only need a few smalls and mediums unless you like carrying things back to the office!

Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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