Designing Your Custom Logo:

Getting the Best Bang for Your Buck

Technology is playing a great role in helping people market themselves...but sometimes it can result in unintended consequences. Computer graphics programs let even amateurs design beautiful, elaborate graphics, but they don't realize that the designs they create and fall in love with are going to cost them a fortune to bring off the computer screen and put on physical objects.

All the cool logos you see on garments and promotional products being sold in stores were produced probably tens of thousands at a time...letting the manufacturer absorb the significant setup costs over a large number of pieces. Small businesses with elaborate logos that need a few hundred (or a few dozen!) items can be overwhelmed by setup costs...a huge burden that often can be considerably reduced if you know a few “insider secrets.”

    Here are a few things to keep in mind while designing for embroidery, t-shirts and promotional items:

  • For the best translation to embroidery, avoid halftones (shades of the same color, i.e., grays are halftones of black) and fade effects...or at least don't depend on them to “make” the design...and try to keep the smallest lettering at least 1/4" high (at life size for sewing). 
  • For the most affordable reproduction of t-shirt designs, stick with artwork that works on white or light gray. On these shirts, go crazy with the art; include photos and any/every effect your software can produce. Purple is tough to print, but most other “normal” colors can be reproduced pretty well.
  • If your identity really cries out for black t-shirts, try your best to keep to one- color designs. Multi-colored designs and even photos, fade effects, etc. are possible to do in small quantities on black shirts, but not nearly as affordably or quickly as on white/light shirts. 
  • Try for a design that has at least 1/16" space between all colors in the logo (when life size) when printing on curved surfaces like mugs. If colors touch, the most common printing process used for imprinting mugs can't be used due to difficulty with registration. The same issues apply when printing on shopping bags.
  • Full-color printing has become much more affordable and widely available, but it's still a very good rule that every logo should work in one color (i.e., black & white), even though the “full” version of the logo may have three, four or even more colors in it. Whether you’re printing on business cards, notepads, pens, t-shirts, or banners, there are many situations where by far the most affordable option is to print everything in one color. Many promotional products can only be printed in one color, so if your logo won’t work, you’re eliminating a lot of your most affordable advertising options.

All this being said, there are ways of getting around all the issues noted above, so you can bring me the most elaborate graphic design and I will find a way to get it put on all kinds of things you can use to promote your business. But, if you’re designing from scratch and you can take these tips into consideration without compromising your design, it will save you a lot of money in the long run. If not, be aware that there will be a trade-off: a reduction in your choice of apparel or product options or an increased production price, and sometimes both.

Whatever choices you make, EmbroidMe San Diego will help you find the most cost-effective options for producing your logo on the promotional apparel and advertising specialty items that work best for you!