As product consultants, our job at Sonic Promos is to advise and guide our clients' choices in branded materials. Much of the time, this entails recommending apparel styles, brands, colors and decoration techniques.
Our choice in product must be synonymous with the campaign's message and budget, but it's equally important that the product appeals to its target audience. If the item's recipient doesn't like the look, feel, or quality of the product, the branding impression loses value.
Pleasing everyone is especially tricky when it comes to apparel. People tend to like clothing for various reasons: the cut fits them well, the color flatters their complexion, the material feels nice against their skin, or the imprinted design appeals to them visually. Unfortunately, these preferences aren't always homogeneous across a target marketing group. Your intended audience probably contains a mix of ages, a mix of body types, and a mix of blondes/brunettes/redheads.
Despite these surface differences, there are generally features in clothing that most people can agree on.
Just for fun, I asked a few Sonic employees to send me pictures of their favorite T-shirts. Though we are a varied bunch in terms of appearance and style, you'll notice several similarities in our choice of tees.
These are my favorite shirts for two reasons: 1) the soft fabric and 2) the vintage-style decoration. The blue Red Sox shirt uses a washed, soft-hand ink for its screen print, and the grey Red Sox shirt is decorated with a distressed appliqué. The Celtics shirt is also really soft, but I like the color more than anything. Green looks good on redheads. It brings out the "Irish" in me.
The Quactus shirt is for my brother Gabe's band. I think the logo is fun, and the colors look nice together. It also makes me think of my kids when I wear it. There's an adorable photo of them wearing the same shirt, taken about four years ago.
The Judge shirt is another favorite of mine because it's red, and I can wear it at Caps games. I get a lot of comments when I wear it... mostly people yelling "JUDGE!". I like to respond with, "I'll be the judge of that" or "This is my Judge Reinhold fan shirt" or "You can't judge a shirt by its color, or can you?"
I bought this shirt a few weeks ago, and if it's not on my body, it's in the wash. Of course I love the cute imprint, but it's the comfortable material that really won me over. This is the American Apparel Track T-shirt, and I've used this model several times for work projects. For some reason, I've never owned one of my own... until now. I also adore the faded blue grey color. In the same vain vein (heh) of Jamie's reasoning above, blue looks good with blonde hair.
This shirt is one of my favorites because it's the first T-shirt I bought when I visited Austin before moving there. Being a New York girl, I thought it represented the city's vibe well. Now I know that the "Keep Austin Weird" shirts are much more appropriate!
I got this shirt at one of the last concerts I attended in El Paso before moving to the DC area, so I associate it with good memories. I also really like the material; it's very comfortable to wear.
This sweatshirt is one of my favorite pieces to wear. It was a gift from my lovely girlfriend, and it was made by a small apparel company in Cleveland, Ohio. It's very soft, and the neutral grey color goes well with brown, orange, blue and red (Browns and Indians).
I realize this little office poll isn't exactly statistically significant, but it does show you that people look for similar features in a T-shirt. Comfort seems to be a consistent theme in our responses, for example. Though standard heavyweight cotton tees are an economical choice, it might be worth it to invest in a better quality, brushed cotton or fine jersey tee for your next apparel campaign.
It is also important to note that we all personally identify with the branding/imprint. The boys are all proud to support their favorite sports teams, and Jen, Eve, Michael, and I all have fond memories of travels and time spent in our hometowns.
So, while selecting the style(s) and color(s) for your apparel campaign are important decisions, remember that your branding is often the trump card. Ultimately, the whole point is to promote your organization/band/team/company and to connect with your supporters. Work the power of brand equity. Your fans already like you... just give them something fun and comfortable to wear, and they will.