Design Tips: Your T-Shirt Message

What you wear reveals a lot about you! That’s why you’ll catch people repeating the phrase, “you are what you wear.” Clothing styles can tell an individuals aspirations, spending habits and feelings. In fact, psychologists all over the world have studied the decision making process that goes into determining your outfits. Seriously, it’s a science.

What’s even more fascinating is that a majority of the way we communicate is nonverbally. Meaning that our body language, proximity, touch and (you guessed it) appearance, make up a huge part in the way we connect with others and also plays a large role in first impressions.

Although these nonverbal cues involve no voice, they speak the loudest. We want you to raise money but more than that, we want you to design a captivating t-shirt that generates awareness for your cause long after your campaign ends.

We know designing your tee can be a daunting task. That’s why we’ve given you some useful tips on designing a powerful t-shirt!


With an infinite amount of color combinations to choose from, there isn’t an exact answer for what colors to pick when designing your shirt, but we recommend selecting complimenting tones that match your message.

If you’re raising money for a heart related disease, red is notably the partnering color. Or if your passionate about environmental justice, a predictable color match would be blue or green.

Don’t shy away from a traditional black and white color combo either. Not only will this maximize your fundraising potential with a lower printing cost but there is something compelling about the simplicity of the t-shirt. If you’re looking to send a bold message, this could be what you’re searching for. But watch out, there’s a fine line between bold and boring. Continue reading to learn how to avoid that mishap!

Key tip: The more colors you use, the more expensive your tee will be and the less profits you’ll raise for your cause. Sometimes less is more!

The Design


Symbolism plays a huge role in the design of your t-shirt. It should be something that encompasses your message and accurately expresses what you’re aiming to address. Also consider your market! Use symbols that appeal to your audience. Ribbons, hearts, and boxing gloves are just a few of the symbols that you could use!

We encourage you to use a symbol they’ll wear often. Think about your favorite t-shirt, what’s so special about it? Create something that people will want to wear. This will entice people to purchase your tee.


Younger generations lead change in all things, including trends. That’s why companies are straying away from embroidering logos on their items. As a result, millennials have forced international brands to switch their marketing methods. Take note.

If you’re a nonprofit designing a t-shirt, we encourage you to rethink using your logo — it could potentially do more harm than good. Think about what styles are trending. You want your tee to be more than a workout shirt. So design it as part of your lifestyle brand!

On the other hand, if you’re creating a t-shirt for a cause or event, your logo will distinguish your fundraiser from everyone else’s. If you have a strong enough brand audience, including a logo is a strength rather than a weakness. In this case, people will buy from your campaign because they are committed to your brand.


Ink has an easy to use design tool so that you can upload your image as you like. However, there are a few things to remember when going about selecting your graphic. We encourage you to use a quality graphic with high resolution. If you have an low quality image, contact us and we’ll see what we can do to help. Have an idea for your tee? Reach out to us and we can have our design team mock something up for you.


Placement plays a large role in the design of your t-shirt, too. Whether you decide for it to be on the front, back or left/right pocket of your tee, the possibilities are endless. Consider placing your words strategically. You want them to pop so something nontraditional might be your key to success.

Key tip: Adding a design to the back of your t-shirt will increase your printing costs. Therefore, lowering the amount of money you’ll be able to raise.

Your Message

Whether you decide to include text or not, it is your choice! However, we recommend taking time to brainstorm what you’re raising money for and how you wish to communicate with your audience. Get educated on the issue then determine the best way to sell your tee. Write down 2–3 key messages that you’re trying to push to your market and go from there.


Research your cause and the audience you’re targeting. Use your key messages that you wrote to determine the tone of voice you want to use for your campaign. Be specific in your decision making! Use powerful words that touch people. The text depends on what you’re going for — it can be short and concise or lengthy, you decide!

You may find success in a funny, witty slogan. A popular option is the “Keep Calm &” saying that has been used thousands of times. As fundraising experts, we believe in clever punch lines that are unique to your campaign. Everyone loves a little humor, just don’t blend in when your tee was meant to stand out!

On the flip side, if your cause is more serious, we’ve seen success in simple messaging. “Boston Strong” and “Love Louder” are phenomenal examples of short phrases that do more than expected. Sometimes two words is all you need.


From clean and straightforward to authentic and quirky, the font that communicates your message can either make or break your t-shirt. Circle back to your key messages, tone and audience, what font will incorporate all of those components?

Arial, Helvetica and Times New Roman are traditional fonts. Comic Sans, Curlz and Lucida Calligraphy can be viewed as immature, youthful, funny or charismatic. A cursive font seems personal and familiar, while being classy and sophisticated. Ultimately, it depends on what you’re going for. We recommend one but there are times when multiple fonts accent your design!

Key tip: Avoid conflicting fonts. If you decide to use more than 1, keep an eye on heavy and light text.


We’ve seen tremendous success by fundraisers that have strategically used multiple languages to promote their cause. For example, husband and wife duo Heidi and Doug created a fundraising campaign, “you are welcome here,” which featured the powerful message in 15 different languages. Their goal was to reinforce unity within the community, and warmth to their neighbors. In addition, they were featured in The News Tribune for their warm and welcoming tee!

Selecting Products

Style Tee

Ink offers a variety of different style shirts, hoodies and a tote bag for you to pick from. Among those are long/short sleeved tee’s, women’s fit and children’s shirts. It’s important to go back to who your target audience is and offer options that represent all of them. We recommend offering 3 to 6 shirts for your campaign but you’re allowed to pick up to 12 products!

T-Shirt Color

This one’s important and is often forgotten! The color of your tee should match everything we’ve stated above. Remember that your text and graphics could be affected by the color of your tee and ruin your design!

Key tip: To limit your production costs, consider utilizing a t-shirt color that coincides with your background. For example, if you’re putting an American flag on your shirt — pick a red shirt. That way the only colors you’re paying for are blue and white. Reducing this cost will allow you to raise more money.

Overall, we want you to design t-shirts that will be remembered long after your campaign ends. Something that your supporters will have for their contributions to your cause! Use your creative eye, unique perspective and passion for the cause to produce your vivid tee. If you have any questions along the way, let us know.

We believe there’s a lot of power in a t-shirt and it starts with your design!

The Ink Team