I know what you’re thinking “Packaging? For t-shirts?” It may be a strange concept at first, but once you think about it, it makes total sense. If you’re in the business of t-shirt printing, then you’re also in the business of giving your clients something special. What better way to present your brand than with a nice package?
Think of it as the business card of your product. A nice packaging will not only increase the value of your product, but also improve the shopping experience of your customer. Knowing that t-shirts don’t usually come in packages will give you an advantage over the competition.
Want to learn how to do this? Then read closely. We don’t have all the answers, but we will guide you through the first steps. Think of it as an introductory guide to t-shirt packaging.
Think of your target audience
How old are they? What do they do? Where do they hang out? You probably already answered these questions when you started to build your brand, but now would be a good moment to go over those notes just one more time. Knowing who your potential buyer is will help you clear many doubts. A package designed for a skater is going to look very different from one designed for a university posh lad.
According to some studies, people read an average of seven words when they shop! That’s very little reading. This means that your packaging needs to tell your brand’s story without words. Luckily there are many ways to explore storytelling without text. Anything from colors, to materials and font types can help you with this task. Don’t be afraid to hire a professional to help you out. In fact, I encourage you to do it.
There are graphic designers out there who specialize in packaging that can help you bring your vision to life. If you don’t have a big budget to spend, you can always try to reach a deal. The worst they can say is ‘no’, but don’t let that stop you. Maybe you can contact a young designer who just graduated and is probably more interested in building a portfolio than earning a big pay-check.
If you take a look at the 25 Creative T-shirt packaging Design Examples post we did a while ago, you’ll realise there are many different materials you can use for your packaging. When choosing a material you not only need to think about the visual aspect, but also the properties of your product – in this case t-shirts.
You may want a sturdy package to keep it from wrinkling or maybe not! Fuji presents garments in tiny plastic bags that folds them to the point it’s not recognizable as clothing anymore, but unwrapping them is part of the process.
Plastic: The most common. Almost 50% of all packaging is done with plastic and for good reason. Plastic doesn’t weigh very much, is easy to shape, it’s cheaper than most other materials and protects against most elements. The big problem with plastic is its sustainability! It is not recycled as often as many believe (only 17% of total waste is recycled in the UK!) and it creates great hazards to the environment.
Glass: It is sustainable, odorless, and versatile. The problem with glass is that it’s heavier than other materials and often times, takes more space.
Cardboard: It’s durable, insulating, sustainable, and highly customizable. On the other hand, Cardboard, while wonderful, does not provide as much protection against the elements as other materials.
Metal: There are many kinds of metal, but the most commonly used in packaging are aluminum, steel and tin. They’re durable, increase shelf life and are versatile. As for disadvantages, steel and tin are non-renewable sources and some metals are vulnerable to corrosion.
Others: Cardboard and plastic are easy to use and relatively cheap, but how about a can? Wood? and even a… fortune cookie?
What is your packaging intended for? Is it just a pretty wrap intended to catch the customer’s eye? Or is it going to be shipped to the other end of the world? Are they going to lay on top of each other? Can it be repurposed once it has been opened? A package that’s intended for window display is very different from one that’s designed to withstand a long travel. It’s purpose should tell you what kind of shape, material and size it will need.
This type of package should be able to resist a long trip: these include the elements and rough handling. If you ship overseas, you should consider if labelling in different languages is necessary. Also keep in mind that different countries have different policies on transport. If you have questions regarding regulations on international shipping, then you should contact your carrier.
This type of packaging is all about the eye candy. As we mentioned before, when people shop they hardly do any reading so your presentation should focus on the visual aspect. Keep in mind the type of store it will be in, is it crowded or minimalistic? Is this just meant to be shown online? Or is it a special package you give to someone once they’ve made a purchase?
As with the other aspects of your brand, be original. You’re headed towards a saturated market out there so ask yourself, why should someone pick your product and not others? Think of your competition, what are they doing? Picture yourself alone in a store surrounded by rows and rows of packaged t-shirts. Why would anyone pick yours? How does it stand out if it’s right next to the competition? Make your packaging a collector’s item. Some of the best packaging out there rivals the product itself in terms of staying power. If you ever need inspiration, let your eyes feast with posts such as this one. Pinterest is also a great resource for design inspiration.
Whatever your feelings may be, packaging is an important part of a brand that often goes overlooked. Don’t make that mistake. You only have one chance to make a first impression – it’s clichéd, but it’s true. I can’t think of another way to explain it. Think of your audience, get advice from a professional, think of materials, storytelling, functionality and above all, stand out!