To become a successful t-shirt label you need to sell a lot of shirts – and to do that, your designs have to be appealing to a broad range of people.
Everybody has different taste and no doubt what I like the next person might not. For example, I would never buy a t-shirt with skulls and crossbones on it, but there’s a big market for those out there. That’s why it’s really important to test the appeal of your designs with your target market, preferably before ordering hundreds of them.
So, I’ve come up with a few ways to test the appeal of your designs, because if your family and friends are the only ones who like them – there’s going to be a problem.
1. POST PICTURES ON YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE
This is probably the most effective way to get feedback for your target market. Connecting directly with the people who follow your brand is a brilliant way to get honest and relevant advice on your new designs. If you do it right, this is also a great way to strengthen your relationships with your customers and build some hype around your new line. For example, you’ve come up with 3 new designs but they’re a little different from what you’ve put out previously. So you announce on Twitter that you’re going to reveal an exclusive sneak peak from the new line to your followers. You link that tweet to your Facebook page and upload the new images. You then post that you want to hear what’s good and what’s bad about the new designs (however you word it, you want to know two things – do they like it, and will they buy it). What you’ve now done is opened up a discussion in which you can get crucial information on the appeal of your new designs and at the same time you’ve made your customers feel involved and excited about the new designs.
Obviously this can only work if you already have a following of customers who are familiar with your product and you know are willing to buy it. If you’re just starting out and you haven’t built that following up yet – don’t worry. Just keep it in mind for when you release your next seasonal line.
2. ASK THE T-SHIRT COMMUNITY
Luckily for us, the t-shirt community is full of informed, opinionated, talented and extremely helpful people – all we have to do is tap into this amazing resource and we have another solid way to test the appeal of our designs.
Mintees is a great site that has literally thousands of designs that have been posted by other designers and brand owners. The page allows other members to “love” and comment on your designs. So, all you have to do is upload your design and you’re going to start getting some feedback. There’s also a forum on the site where you can ask directly for feedback.
T-Shirt Forums is also a great place to get some feedback. Again, you can start a thread asking for feedback and throw an image of the design up. The only thing about these sites, is it’s important to keep in mind that although everyone on there knows a lot about t-shirts, they may not belong to your target market and therefore might not be into your style to begin with.
3. SEE WHAT OTHER BRANDS ARE DOING
As long as you remember that sticking to your own style and doing your own thing is going to give you an advantage – then there is nothing wrong with checking out the competition and seeing what they’re up to. One of the best ways to gauge what’s appealing to your target market is to check out other brands that have the same demographic. What are their designs like? Are they using black and white, or bright, bold colours? Are they using imagery or a lot of typography?
Again I stress it’s so important not to just follow what the competition is doing, but keeping an eye on what they’re coming out with will give you a good idea of what’s popular in your market at the moment.
4. READ T-SHIRT MEDIA
Because we have such a rad community, there are some great blogs and magazines out there. I would recommend reading these regularly as they often indicate general trends such as the minimalist and typography that is popular at the moment. Keeping up to date with what’s happening in the t-shirt design community at large is a great way to ensure your designs are fresh, appealing, and relevant.
Lastly, I just wanted to add that one the most powerful tools you have in adding to the appeal of your design is your belief in them – if you truly believe in your brand and your designs, then your customers will find them appealing because that passion will speak through.
Thanks for taking the time out to read this article and feel free to comment and share.