How To's

4 C’s Of Finding The Perfect (Promotional) Tee

4 C’s Of Finding The Perfect Tee 1Color. Cut. Clarity. Carat. The 4 C’s of diamond buying. While diamonds are a girl’s best friend, there are many who wouldn’t part with their fave t-shirt for all the diamonds in the world. (OK, so maybe slight hyperbole, but let’s go with it…)

So what is it about a favorite tee that makes it so perfect? How it fits? How soft the fabric is? Emotional attachment? You bet.

And just as hard as it is to become someone’s go-to t-shirt, it’s even harder to dethrone the current fave and take over top honors.

So how do you entice recipients to reach for your t-shirt first? Begin by knowing your audience and their preferences. A 15 year-old girl and a 45 year-old man have much different desires for their clothing, for example, so source garments appropriately. (Learn more about targeting your audience in this post.)

Once you understand your audience, work through the 4 C’s of finding the perfect promotional tee: Color. Cut. Construction. Cost.


The last decade has seen an infusion of retail influence into promotional apparel. More color options are available. In fact, you can find every shade in the rainbow: aqua, azalea, cardinal, chestnut, key lime, mandarin, pistachio, russet and sapphire to name a few. This expanded selection gives even more opportunities to synchronize garments with any corporate color scheme or event theme.

While neutrals such as white, heather grey and black continue to be the most popular because of their versatility, don’t be afraid of color. Just make sure it aligns with your audience’s demographics and psychographics. Men tend to shy away from lavender, for example, and a senior center’s members probably won’t be too keen on neon orange.

But lavender tees would be great for a children’s Easter egg hunt, and companies who are doing a Highway Beautiful clean-up project will appreciate neon orange for roadside visibility.


Getting the fit right is essential. Guys have a pretty standard, easy fit, although there are some slim cuts for young and trendy audiences.

Gals have many more choices. First, it must be a ladies’ style and not unisex. The classic ladies’ cut has a relaxed, softly shaped silhouette that flatters curves. The modern cut accentuates the body with a contoured silhouette and longer length. The juniors cut has a form-fitting silhouette to follow the shape of the body.


Here’s where all the details come in. What fabric was used in the garment’s construction? 100% heavyweight cotton has a substantial weight and oftentimes, by association, perceived higher quality. But there are many cotton/poly blends that are lighter in weight and oftentimes softer, which can also indicate high perceived value.

Keep in mind that the weight of the fabric impacts how it drapes over the body. A heavier fabric may feel too bulky for some women, so these tees may be more appealing to men. And ladies may be more attracted to a softer, lighter fabric that not only looks great on its own but can also be layered with a jacket or sweater for year-round wear.

Organic cotton, bamboo or hemp can be fabrics of choice for those wanting an eco-friendly option. Dri-fit mesh fabrics appeal to those with athletic aspirations. And some may need garments that are Made In USA (presidential campaigns take note!).

What about the neckline and sleeves? For men, it’s typically crew neck vs. v-neck, short-sleeve vs. long sleeve. For women, add scoop neck, boat neck, cap sleeves and ¾ sleeve options. You can even have ringer tees with banded, contrasting colored neckline and sleeves.


Regardless of company size and campaign budget, cost is always a consideration. Keep in mind that if a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. We’ve seen side seams that aren’t vertical under the arms because the fabric was cut at the wrong angle, hems that unravel because of low-quality thread and shirts shrink two sizes because the fabric wasn’t preshrunk. Work with your promotional consultant to get the details of the garment of interest so you can be confident in your purchase.

The Perfect Promotional Package

The t-shirt just might be the perfect promotional product. People will do almost anything for them. They’ll go nuts sporting events trying to catch free tees being shot out of a cannon. (Even an A-Lister such as Sir Paul McCartney has been caught clamoring for a free t-shirt at an NBA game. Watch it here.) Some people will even run 26.2 miles just to get the marathon finisher swag!

And for many millennials and Gen Z, t-shirts are their uniform. Just visit any college or high school campus and you’ll see students clad in tees from their fave sports teams, bands, brands and the educational institution itself. (Check out student Alycia Abbott’s two part series “A Year In T-Shirts” about the 15 free tees that chronicled a year at the University of Rochester.) And for tech start-ups, t-shirts are a point of pride. (See these top tees from SXSW via Business Insider.)

The excitement created by promotional tees is great news for marketers. Why? Because 57% of U.S. consumers feel more favorable about the advertiser who gives them a promotional t-shirt, according to the Advertising Specialty Institute Impressions Study. Feeling good about the advertiser suggests that recipients will also wear the tee. The more they wear it, the more they like you. And the more they like you, the more often they’ll wear the shirt.

And if the tee is worn in public—like to the mall, the park or a restaurant—all the better. That logo gets seen by hundreds more people, extending ad impressions…and overall campaign ROI.

Ashton Kutcher said, “Your best t-shirt should be like your bed; it just feels like you are home when you are in it.” Do your promotional tees make recipients feel like they’re at home?


The goal for any marketer is to have their t-shirt chosen for wear above all others. We can help you find the color, cut and construction that appeals to your target audience all at a cost within your budget. Book an appointment by clicking here or call us now at 248-538-4700 to learn how. Mention the blog, and we’ll send you some SMART Swag to get the conversation started!