7 Tips on Creating High Quality Branded Apparel

When was the last time you did something so unspeakably, horrendously embarrassing to a complete stranger that your entire being cringes every time you remember it? Maybe they’ve already forgotten about it. Or maybe they haven’t, and now you’ve been branded as “that horrible person who spilled soup on my baby” for life. 


It’s easy to rebuild your reputation as a person. But for businesses, first impressions are a matter of life and death. Most people will judge your business solely on how your logo looks. And if people think your logo looks unprofessional, tacky, or, well, ugly, that impression is going to stick. 


You could have the most beautiful logo for your brand. But if you’re planning to print your brand on apparel, there are a few more things you need to consider to make sure it doesn’t come out looking like a sad, blurry mess.


Here are some tips to nail down before sending your design to a custom printing company. Tips that will save you time, money, and the hassle of disposing boxes of defective merch.

screen printing


Can You Print More Than Just Your Logo?

Don’t limit yourself to slapping your brand logo on a shirt and calling it a day. Explore other executions for your brand logo. Can you reimagine your logo by changing the colors and art style? How about creating artwork that represents your brand in some way?


It also helps to create a mockup of your design. Put simply, mockups are artworks that simulate how a design looks in real life. In this case, how a design would look on a t-shirt. The good news is you don’t need to be a designer to create a mockup; there are a lot of tools out there that allow you to create them without design experience whatsoever.


Decide on a Printing Method

Yes, there are a variety of custom printing methods that printers use. Each one has its own pros and cons, and works best depending on what kind of design you have. When collaborating with your printer, remember to ask them what method will work best for the design you want to print.


screen printing

You’ll find most custom printers that use three kinds of methods. Screen printing is the most common, and is basically laying a thick layer of ink on top of a shirt. It’s cheap, fast, easy, and results in long-lasting prints, but can’t print gradients. The resulting quality is fantastic, but creating the stencil for the print takes time, making it somewhat impractical for printing small quantities of shirts.


guy doing direct to garment printing

Direct-to-garment printing involves printing a pattern directly on a fabric, which requires a printer made specifically for that purpose. The prints it produces are soft, durable, high-quality, and you can print any kind of color you want, but is significantly slower. It isn’t the best alternative for large orders, and the more colors and intricacies in the design, the more expensive it gets.


embroidered logo on roundneck tshirt


If you prefer more texture to your apparel, embroidery is a method that uses thread and needle to create designs. You’ll want to embroider your designs for thicker garments like work gear or jackets. While this method costs more, it’s also more durable and unique.


Lastly, vinyl printing involves cutting out designs on vinyl and heat-pressing them onto the fabric. It’s a durable, high-quality method for simple, smaller orders, but takes time and can only be used for simpler designs.


guy wearing a black graphic tshirt looking at graffiti



Does Your Font Show on Clothing?

If your brand logo contains any words, make sure they’re not too small that they aren’t seen on the final product.


If you’re planning to do a typography-centric design for your apparel, font choice will determine the look and feel of the entire product. Sans serif fonts are modern, casual, and more approachable, while serif fonts feel more classic, traditional, and formal.


Designs with lots of words will also benefit from clearer, larger, and more well-spaced fonts.

Double Check Your Placement

Sometimes clients forget to properly place their logo on their mockups. The result is a very awkwardly positioned design somewhere in the middle of the shirt, when it could have looked much better further towards the top.




Some Color Reminders

Rule of thumb: light ink on dark fabric and dark ink on light fabric for the best designs.


The color of some fabrics may also affect the color of certain kinds of ink, so be sure to clarify that with your printer. Sometimes certain printers or printing methods may not even fully capture your design’s exact color. It helps to request for some samples, or to ask your custom printer if they can send photos of an initial output.

Send High Quality Images, Please!

The last thing you want is a blurry design. When sending your design, always make sure to send a high-resolution photo, as low-quality photos may cause inconsistencies such as pixelation, fuzzy images, and incomprehensible typography.


girl in stranger things tshirt

There Are Tons of Custom Printers. Choose Wisely.

The custom printing industry is packed. A quick Google search will most likely give you tons of printers in your area, but that doesn’t mean you should pick the first option, or the one closest to your office.


Take time when scouting for a custom printer. Try to go for printers who offer more varieties of printing. These companies most likely know what they’re doing, and can print your apparel with the method best suited for your design.


Any good custom printer will always have a dedicated customer service to help their clients achieve the best design possible. If you have some doubts about your design, whether you’re unsure about its placement, worried the printer can’t handle the colors, or if your brand will show clearly on the fabric, never hesitate to ask!


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