Creating an Eye Catching Brand

For the previous Round Table, I had a discussion about designing t-shirts for passion and profits with AJ of Cashletes and Ryan of Pennant Race. For this Round Table, I ask Eric Terry, creator of Linty Fresh, and Liz Fulghum, owner of the t-shirt blog Pop Culture Tees, the following question:

What are the aspects of creating an eye catching brand?

Eric Terry: In order to make an eye catching anything, be it a car, a phone, or a t-shirt, the key is to go the opposite direction from everyone else. So before you ever start at the drawing board, you need to do your research. What is everyone else doing? Or, to put it better, what are
the overriding trends in the industry? Identify these trends and avoid them. Don’t be afraid to try something completely bizarre or out of the norm.

Take the fast food company In-N-Out as an example. This West Coast burger joint is a phenomenon. I have never been to an In-N-Out that didn’t require me waiting in a line at least 5 minutes. In California, they’re everywhere, and they’re packed. What trends are they avoiding? Complexity. While the menu of a McDonald’s boasts several dozen items, In-N-Out only serves a handful. For burgers, only 3 choices are on the menu. But this straying from the norm has enabled them to perfect their recipe. Sure, you can’t go to In-N-Out for a chicken sandwich and an apple pie, but they’re the only place that makes their burger.

The t-shirt industry is the same. Right now, there are a lot of brands out there peeking over each others’ shoulders for aesthetic. The problem is they all share an identity, and in the end the customer base is shared as well. Individualize!

Liz Fulghum: To me, there are two parts to this. The first is obvious: be aesthetically pleasing and creatively daring.

The second is a little more subtle, but one that I see missing from a lot of brands these days: have a core message and focus for your line. Experiment with different graphic and print techniques, but make sure you keep a thread of similarity between all your designs. This gives your brand coherence and identity (Think Mark Ecko. Every shirt is different, but you can pick an Ecko tee out even without the rhino) and will give you the individuality you need to stand out as a line.

Well there you have it; those are the aspects of creating an eye catching brand. Make sure to check out the next Round Table discussion.