Designing the perfect t-shirt or mug

Business Promotional Products

Business Promotional Products

Tips for Effective Product Designing

While promotional products are incredibly effective for getting noticed by potential customers and staying top-of-mind, it is not always enough to simply put your brand or message on an item. It’s important to design an appealing and concise item that will serve to put your company in a positive light and become a product that consumers want to use again and again. Here are some tips for designing effective products.


Color is very important. Items like t-shirts and mugs have a nearly infinite number of options for colors. Then you also need to add your brand name or logo on top of that. Be sure to pick a color that won’t overpower your brand image or make people squint to read it. If you choose a bright or dark base color, print your name and message in white or a light color. If the base color is white or a light color, go with black or a darker color for your message.

Using color theory can help you choose complimentary colors that adhere to your messaging goals. There are many ways to create or find effective color schemes or palettes.

Here are some effective color combinations:

  • Cobalt blue and yellow
  • Coral and turquoise
  • Blue and white
  • Gold and black
  • Blue and grey

Avoid colors that are too close in shade because they’ll be hard to read. Examples of these are:

  • Black and dark purple
  • Yellow and white
  • Light blue and yellow
  • Pink and white
  • Crimson and black

There are several resources out there to help you decide what color palette is best for your brand and promotional item. Consider using, a free color palette website, find and create color schemes. Articles like 10 Colors that Increase Sales and Why and 3 Ways to Pick GreatColor Schemes for Your Infographics are great resources for picking and visualizing colors for products or images.

Font sizes & styles

When it comes to fonts for your items, the bigger and clearer the better. While you may have font standards for your logo, choosing a font that is simple and readable is best for any additional messaging on the item. Items like t-shirts serve not only the one wearing it, but also as marketing to all those who will see the shirt out in public. Make sure the text is large and clear enough to be read as someone walks by.

A mug, however, is often noticed when someone is seated and drinking from it. Therefore, using a more detailed or smaller font is fine. Any person will have the chance to view the item for longer and understand the whole marketing message.

These are some of the most popular fonts used by professional designers. They are clear and attractive to most readers.

  • Helvetica
  • Optima
  • Franklin Gothic
  • Gill Sans
  • Rockwell

When it comes to font size, most printers have a minimum. For t-shirts, the average minimum is 20-point font and for mugs, cups and koozies, it’s around 8-point font. However, you’ll want to go much larger for your main message and use all the space available on the product.

At, each item has an imprint size, and that simply refers to the size of the area for the logo and/or text. For mugs, it is around three inches tall by three or four inches wide. T-shirts depend on the size and style, but many adult shirts offer about 12 inches by 12 inches of space for your design.

Knowing that, try a few different layouts with varying fonts and colors before deciding on the final design. Print the message in full color and actual size to get a feel for how it will look on a t-shirt or mug.

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