How to Use the Web to Create Clever Custom T-Shirts

Revolver Loaded with Internet Memes Image source:

Yesterday, I talked about how you can use pop culture to create clever custom clothing designs that will speak to modern shoppers. Today, I want to talk about another massive resource for marketers: the Internet.  

On the World Wide Web, billions of people work together to hunt down, create, and share the most interesting bits of information that mankind has to offer. The most popular ideas become memes, an instantly recognizable idea or style that allows users to quickly convey information with a whole bunch of connotations.   Let's take a look at reaction faces, for example. These pictures quickly replaced emoticons as the go-to method to convey emotions online. We've got disappointment:   Disappointment Reaction Face Image source:  

And of course the "Are you serious?" face:  

Are You Serious Reaction Face Image source:

Inevitably, these faces and other Internet memes found their way on the fronts of t-shirts and other articles of custom clothing. These types of shirts are particularly popular among younger groups and tech-savvy demographics because these are the groups most likely to interact with Internet memes on a daily basis.  

Internet Meme T-shirts Image source:

The Internet is a veritable gold mine of marketing potential because so few things are copyrighted. Many of these memes originate on a social media website before quickly spreading to all corners of the Internet, evolving and spawning knock-offs along the way.   The trick is figuring which meme best suits your business. Don't think that you can just slap a reaction face onto a t-shirt or baseball cap and expect that it will become the next big thing. You need to modify an Internet meme so that it fits with your specific business. It's also a good idea to steer clear of memes that are even remotely offensive (and there are a lot of them).  

For example, the dancing banana probably wouldn't be very useful for a car dealership, but it would be perfect for a local ice cream store that's trying to drum up interest for a grand opening. All you'd have to do is have employees with dancing banana t-shirts hand out coupons for a free banana split at a mall or some other busy area of the city, and you'll have people talking about your new ice cream store for weeks.  Dancing Banana Image source:

The trick is to not overdo it. People on the Internet tend to lay things on pretty heavily, and they often intentionally go for a "thrown together" feel. It's probably best to avoid Internet memes that appear slapdash because they might make your company appear lazy and unprofessional. The rage comic is one of the most popular memes on the Internet, but the image template is so rough around the edges that it's hard to incorporate the image into an article of custom clothing without appearing sloppy.  

Overall, the Internet is a powerful but tricky tool for marketers. Relying too heavily on rehashed Internet memes can make a company appear unoriginal to consumers, but putting a clever spin on an old classic can generate a lot of buzz about a new product or business. Just be sure to pursue tactful Internet memes that apply to your specific business and you'll be well on your way to marketing gold.

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