How to Design Merchandise

How to Design Merchandise

12 min read
Orange, red and yellow shirts on a clothes rail.

People love cool companies. If you work hard to create a company culture and product worth celebrating, you'll see that employees and customers will proudly display their support.

Merchandising is one of the most creative promotional strategies to get your brand out there in the real world, especially if your company is a digital product or SaaS.

When people wear or use your merchandise, it creates more visibility and opportunities for word-of-mouth marketing through conversations with family, colleagues, and friends. A strategically branded item will also continuously remind people of your brand.

Merchandising is also a way for fans to show off their interests and likes or their particular affiliations with specific brands. Social media influencers and brand ambassadors get paid to do this.

You can brand about anything and sell it under your company's banner. Think beyond the conventional t-shirt designs and coffee mugs – what kinds of custom merchandise will delight your potential customers?

You might need to find bespoke customization options as opposed to those offered by print-on-demand services (and we have some cool design ideas below).

If you create extraordinary designs, your corporate merchandise may become an extra income stream for your company.

Did you know you can use Vectornator to design print and digital merch? You can find popular sizing guides on our templates page and learn more about designing for print.

We've written many step-by-step tutorials on merchandising and have compiled a handy list of merch ideas for you below.

How to Design Merchandise for Your Company

1. Beer Labels

There are so many possibilities to make custom products that are authentic and memorable.

Although beer is one of the oldest beverages in the world, the recent rise in the popularity of craft beer has taken the world by storm. It feels like every small region has its own craft beer.

Imagine creating your company's own beer or labeling a local craft beer as a gift to your clients. Of course, you must understand the legalities around re-labeling alcohol products or selling them.

This step-by-step tutorial shows you how to create beer labels with your own custom designs.

18 Awesome Ideas for Beer Labels and How to Make Your Own
Beer packaging design is an excellent opportunity for artistic expression. Check out our favorite designs for inspiration and to learn about some incredible beers.

2. Book Covers

Does your company have an excellent e-book that could be even greater in print format? Or have you ever thought of giving a client or employee a book with a customized cover?

In this tutorial, we show you how to design a print-ready book cover from concept to execution using Vectornator.

How to Design a Book Cover | Vectornator Academy
Learn everything you need to know about how to design a book cover with Vectornator.
designing

3. Candle Labels

This might be a little unconventional, but think about it: in the same way craft beer has become widely accessible, custom candle-making has become popular for personal use and gifting.

Imagine having a bespoke candle scent developed for your brand and then putting your company name on it. Of course, it needs to be something that your target audience will enjoy.

Our candle labeling tutorial shows you how to make an excellent design for candle products.

How To Create The Ideal Candle Label
Are you trying to start your own candle-making business? Then you’ll need to create your own labels for your products.

4. Fine Art Prints

Are your employees or customers very arty? A range of editioned, branded fine art prints could be the best gift you could give them! Fine art prints are also great additions to modern office spaces and break rooms.

Our tutorial on designing fine art prints takes you through the steps of preparing a document that can be used for high-quality printing that you can frame and use as décor.

How to Design a Fine Art Print | Vectornator Academy
If you do digital art, fine art prints are a beautiful way to bring your illustrations to life!

5. Magazine Covers

If your company has an internal publication or you've been thinking of starting one, follow this tutorial on designing a magazine cover. We take you through the essential elements of a magazine cover and provide iconic examples for inspiration.

You can leave your custom magazines strewn on coffee tables at the office reception area or consider selling subscriptions to your must-read magazines.

Make Your Own Iconic Magazine Cover Design
Lights, camera, action: let’s learn how to make a magazine cover.

6. Minimalist Pattern

Create beautiful patterns that you can use for wallpapers (digital and paper-based), wrapping paper, wall art, scatter cushions, clothing, tablecloths, and anything else you can think of!

Not only will your company's own custom pattern create a sense of professionalism, but it will also strengthen your branding at events.

Using custom backgrounds in business video calls is a good idea, and a minimalist pattern for your brand will work well.

How to Design a Minimalist Pattern
This tutorial will show you how to design a minimal pattern for packaging material.

7. NFTs

Many of us are already dabbling in personal NFT trading, but what about creating custom NFTs for your company?

Not only can you make a potential income stream from selling NFTs and increasing brand awareness on the internet, but you can also distribute these as tokens for entry into exclusive company events or unlocking special product features.

The possibilities are endless, and it's completely digital.

How to Create NFTs
Riddle me this: what features the digital work of an artist since the beginning of his creative journey, stitched together in a collage, that cannot be touched or held in your hands, free to download by anyone with an internet connection, but that costs almost $70 million?

8. Posters

Posters are slightly different from fine art prints because they don't need to be as long-lasting and high quality. Posters usually carry essential information while being visually pleasing.

You can hand posters out at events as keepsakes or create posters with helpful information such as calendars and infographics that your customers will find useful in the long run. This will give them an extra incentive to put up your posters in areas where your brand will get good exposure.

Follow our easy tutorial for poster design tips. You can also check out our poster sizing templates to ensure that your poster prints come out perfectly.

9 Tips for Creating the Perfect Poster
We see posters everywhere we go, but what makes one better than another?

9. Sticker

Stickers are a versatile choice for branded merch. People love personalizing their Macbooks, cars, notebooks, phones, stationery, and even company bathroom doors!

Stickers can have an incredible presence; if your designs are beautiful, people will share them with the world. It's like a free marketing distribution channel.

Our tutorial on sticker design shows you how to create awesome custom stickers with die lines.

How to Make Your Own Sticker Design
Stick to Vectornator’s sticker design tips.

10. Tattoo Sheets

This design idea is a little more out of the box and quirky, but we think it's a fantastic way to promote your company!

Creating custom tattoo sheets for your company will only work if you know your customer persona really well. The design should also be able to work as a stand-alone artwork that someone could frame for the office or home.

It will make for a humorous and endearing gift to employees as a way to show company loyalty (the concept of getting a tattoo of the company's logo or the face of the CEO). Again, you need to know the employees well to gauge whether this merch is appropriate.

In this tutorial, we show you how to create your own tattoo flash sheets.

How to Design a Tattoo Flash Sheet
We know that creating custom tattoo designs is hard.But Sandra Staub, an independent illustrator from Zurich, makes it look so easy!

11. Tote Bags

Everybody loves tote bags!

Branded tote bags are a safe option because they're always useful, and your custom design will be shown off everywhere this merch is carried.

The key is to choose a quality customizable tote bag that's big enough to carry at least a few A4-sized books or a 13" laptop. If the tote is too small or overly large to be practical, it won't be used, and your company won't benefit from the free marketing.

Follow this easy tutorial to make tote bag designs that your customers and employees will love for a long time.

12. T-shirts

An old-time favorite, custom t-shirts are always a win. Who would say no to a free shirt? This tutorial shows you how to design and execute branded t-shirt designs.

Pay attention to your fabric color – choosing a color that closely matches your brand color might seem like the obvious option. Still, it won't necessarily be popular in terms of fashion trends.

Stick to black, white, and gray to keep it classy and ensure your custom merch won't become pajamas or gardening attire.

Design a T-Shirt With Vectornator
You don’t have to be a graphic designer to earn money from your design creations!

13. Wine Labels

How to design merchandise wine labels | Vectornator
Image Source: Wine Label Sizes

A good wine or whiskey has always been an appropriate, high-end gift to customers or employees.

This tutorial takes you through the steps to create a customized wine label that you can use to personalize company gifts.

Remember that some religions prohibit drinking alcohol, while other customers or employees may not drink as a choice or because of pregnancy. In those cases, you can put custom labels on non-alcoholic wines.

Wine Label Sizes | Vectornator Templates
Create amazing wine labels for any occasion with this wine label size guide.

14. Bandanas

Bandanas are the all-rounder and the chameleon among merchandise items. Comparable to a Swiss knife, it finds many applications in all life situations.

They can be used as a stylish scarf to keep your neck warm, a hair tie, a napkin, or even a stylish accessory for your dog or cat. The possibilities to use a bandana are endless.

Rockers and movie stars in Hollywood popularized the bandana with the classic paisley pattern. But today, many bandanas are sold with a great variety of creative patterns!

Designing and selling bandanas as merch is an excellent opportunity to let people enjoy your creative designs in their everyday lives. They are relatively easy to print as the printing base is just a square fabric.

We collaborated with talented artist and illustrator Sandra Staub for another video of our merch series. This time, she’ll show you how to create your own bandana design and give the classic a personal twist by designing and printing your own bandana pattern in Vectornator!

Learn how to set up the document, create and distribute the pattern evenly, and prepare the document for print.

Ideas for Distributing Your Merchandise

Many companies make a mistake by spending a lot of time designing and printing custom-branded merchandise without any plan or strategy.

Unfortunately, it's not a case of "if you print it, they will come."

Before you start creating merch, you should first plan your channels of distribution. Consult your brand strategy to ensure you spend on the target audience and don't end up throwing away unwanted branded merchandise.

Below are a few distribution channels you should consider for your promotional campaign:

  • Events – Company events are the most popular way to hand out merch and get people excited about your brand. It also helps them show off their cultural capital because "you had to be there" to get the t-shirt!
  • Company Merch Shop – Create a catalog of products on an e-commerce platform embedded on your site. Many companies have successfully created an additional selling channel with an online shop for company merch.
  • Instagram Shop – Instagram is one of the best social media platforms to sell goods online. With a built-in online marketplace, it's easy for customers to find you and order their favorite merch in a mobile app they already use frequently.
  • Print-On-Demand Platform – Similar to a company merch shop, you can integrate a page where customers and employees can choose the items they want. With a print-on-demand platform, you give them a creative marketplace where they can select the designs and the items they want these printed on.
  • Email Campaigns – If you've been collecting customer emails and segmenting your email lists, you can target specific customer personas with campaigns and merch tailored to their interests.

Wrap Up

We've provided a list of ideas for making customizable products for your company, and there are so many other exciting and creative things you can do with merchandizing!

We also wanted to make a note about the upfront costs. Merchandizing is fun and engaging, but it can also be pricey. And most producers and printers have minimum order requirements, which you also need to consider.

So, if you don't want to waste collateral, it's vitally important that your custom merch design reaches the right audience of fans and supports your marketing strategy.

The great thing about Vectornator – especially our comprehensive how-to tutorials – is that you can design your company's merchandise yourself. You don't need to pay graphic designers on top of the cost of the promotional products.

It's also possible to handle printing in-house, depending on what kind of merchandise you're planning to create and distribute. For instance, handling the printing of custom labels, stickers, magazine covers, and tattoo sheets yourself is viable. You'll need screen printers to do t-shirts and tote bags, though.

Another tip we want to share is that you should make your merchandising choices as timeless as possible. Trends come and go, but good design never goes out of style.

Lastly, let your merchandise speak for you.

You might be working for a law firm or fintech app, but that doesn't mean your merch should be boring. Find out what makes your product and team unique and reflect that in your promotional tools.

Custom-labeled beers on Fridays? We're down for that!

We hope we can inspire you to create and sell your merchandise!  Just download Vectornator for free and start designing, and don't forget to share your designs with us on our social media and community art gallery!

Download Vectornator to Get Started

Take your designs to the next level.

Orange, red and yellow shirts on a clothes rail.
Orange, red and yellow shirts on a clothes rail.

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