How to design t-shirts that resonate with your audience


Think about the world’s most iconic t-shirts. I ❤️ NY, Keep calm and ___, Just Do It –– what do all of these t-shirts have in common? What’s the common thread that makes these t-shirts resonate with so many people?

In this blog, we'll get into what makes a t-shirt not just aesthetically pleasing, but what makes it something that people will remember –– taking your t-shirts from cool looking to need-to-have.

Speaking of aesthetics, they are important

Like we mentioned above, designing a t-shirt that resonates takes more than just aesthetic appeal. However, aesthetics are a huge factor. If your t-shirt design isn't aesthetically pleasing, 99% of the time, no one will want to wear it (That 1% being if it’s so bad it’s funny, but that's pretty hard to pull off, so you might not want to bet those odds).

If you’re ordering company t-shirts, it’s easy to throw your logo on a t-shirt and call it a day. But if you’re giving out those t-shirts to potential customers or potential new employees, you’ll want to give them more than just your logo on a t-shirt.

Take Help Scout for example. They have a perfectly good looking logo. If they would have placed it on a t-shirt as-is, it would have been totally fine, and probably worn by some of their biggest fans and some employees.


Instead, they remade their logo out of icons that the people they’re trying to reach really like. By opting to make up their logo out of icons of computers, coffee cups, calendars, etc, they made their design look cooler, made it more personal, and made it something that related to their audience.

Share a message that matters

Another way to ensure that your t-shirt design resonates with your audience is to relay to them a message that they can relate to and rally behind.

Thinking of some of the most popular t-shirts of all time, a lot of them are popular because they are based around an idea or mantra that people can get behind. I Heart NY, Keep Calm and ___, Just Do It. These are all t-shirts with a strong message. And people love to wear what they believe in.

InVision is a great example. If you’re not familiar, InVision is a design tool that some of the world’s biggest web design teams use to bring their digital products to life. Teams who are designing the products that change the world (Airbnb, Lyft, IBM for example) use InVision to create their products.

Knowing that their users feel strongly that what they’re doing impacts people's lives, InVision wanted to hone that idea while they were considering what to put on a t-shirt and came up with these.


“Design Makes Everything Possible.” What InVision understands about their users is that they don’t simply see themselves as web or app designers, but they see themselves as people who are changing the world for the better. InVision taps into that sentiment perfectly, and their t-shirts are a massive success.

Tie your t-shirts to a mission

As discussed, people love to get behind ideas that they feel represent them well. They also love to get behind causes that they care about, and if you can find a way to relate a t-shirt to an important cause, it will resonate with your audience in a powerful way.

Feeding Children Everywhere (FCE) does an awesome job of this. A non-profit, FCE’s mission is to provide healthy meals to those in need. Part of how they raise money is by selling t-shirts. It would have been easy enough for FCE to create a cool design and put it on a t-shirt, but they also wanted a way to show their customers exactly what their contribution meant.


By creating different designs around the saying “This shirt fed 40 people”, FCE shows their audience what their money goes towards in a tangible, powerful way.


Designing a cool t-shirt is one thing. Designing a cool t-shirt that resonates and means something to people is another. The key takeaway in designing an impactful t-shirt: make sure it has meaning. 

If you know who your audience is, can align your design to an idea or cause they care about, odds are it will get noticed, remembered, and worn.

Ready to start designing? Let us know! We’d love to chat and help you create your dream t-shirts.

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