Expanding Our T-Shirt Collection

Hope Smith

Hope Smith

I am Enginetech's Marketing Coordinator. I have a passion for marketing, social media, and branding. I have been a part of the Enginetech team for 2 years and counting.

Have you ever wondered how you could improve your company’s branding? Whether you own a small machine shop on the east coast or a large e-commerce website with a global reach, branding plays a huge role in the success of your business. In this blog, I will describe how to elevate your brand through the strategic use of promotional items, product photography, and social media merch launches. Here is how I applied these strategies to our business:

This year we set out with a goal in mind to make Enginetech better than ever! This goal included the usual profit growth goals that any successful business establishes every year, but we also wanted to increase our brand awareness. That’s where I come in!  I am the Marketing Coordinator here at Enginetech so I was challenged with the task of bettering Enginetech’s brand awareness for 2021. What better way to spread your brand than by having your customers do it for you? 

Since I started working for Enginetech, I had always imagined us one day expanding our t-shirt collection so that it accurately represented our brand. In 2018, we had one Black High Performance t-shirt that we sold on our catalog website. One factor that I knew that could be improved was our product photography of our shirts. Before, we photographed the shirts lying flat, which makes it very difficult for customers to picture the shirt on themselves. We did not advertise the t-shirts to our customers and we did not mention the shirts on our social media accounts.  Obviously, our shirts had minimal sales due to the lack of advertising. This wasn’t a huge priority to our company because we are in the automotive industry, not the clothing industry. There was no one to manage this product until I was hired, so I took up the responsibility of ordering promotional items for Enginetech.

I believe that with a little focus and effort you can drastically change your impact on your customers. Branding is all about conveying to customers what your business is all about through impactful communication. So what did we want to communicate to our customers about our brand? After a few brainstorming sessions, we decided that we wanted to stay true to our “retro-loving” roots. We wanted a t-shirt that reflected our retro flare and love for cars, as well as state our purpose. One main requirement of our new shirt was for our customers to feel comfortable in our shirt while working in the shop. When you are creating a product, you need to imagine where your customer would be wearing your apparel and what they would be doing. We picked out a t-shirt that was a comfortable blend. This shirt was designed in a dark color so that if the customer got their hands dirty during a rebuild then it would not noticeably stain their Enginetech t-shirt. Below is the mock up of our t-shirt design from one of our promotional item vendors.

Once we had our shirt design approved, we placed our first order. The next task at hand was the product photography session. This can be quite a challenge for some companies because they do not have a photographer that works in-house for their company. Fortunately, we have our amazing product photographer, Jasmine Alvarez. She is responsible for a majority of the photos that you see on our social media accounts. Jasmine has also started updating our catalog images to higher quality photos. Sometimes it can be difficult to put your ideas into words, so for this part of the project I created what I like to call an “Idea Board.” This is simply a document of examples of color schemes, modeling poses, and categories of photography that I wanted to mimic for our new product photography. Here is part of our “Idea Board” for this project:

The “Idea Board” helps Jasmine and I stay on the same page for the vision of our creative projects together. After Jasmine reviewed the “Idea Board”, we decided to go checkout some potential photoshoot spots in our beloved downtown Carrollton, TX. We found spot in the area that had an industrial look, such as the train station. We took a few test shots to make sure the lighting was good and then we contacted our models to set up the photoshoot. When the models arrived, we showed them the “Idea Board” as well so they would know what kind of poses and looks we were trying to achieve. We took photos that showcased the t-shirts so customers could get an idea of what they would be purchasing on our catalog. We also took more artistic photos to showcase on social media that would catch people’s attention. Here is our final result:

We decided to have the models showcase our High Performance Tee as well. I think this helped elevate the look of the t-shirts in comparison to the images we had before on our catalog.  A key component of creating a captivating image is to set the scene of the photo and to create movement. 

Both photoshoots turned out amazing and it couldn’t have been possible without our talented models, Bradleigh Frost and Christian Velazquez. Since the photoshoot was a huge success, we decided to set a Reveal Date to show off our new shirt design. This strategy is a great way to generate buzz about your company. As we were approaching our Reveal Date, we published some teaser pictures to create some interest from our customers and social media followers. The idea is to leave your customer wanting more information and to create anticipation.

This has been a great creative project to work on with some really talented people. If you are considering updating your brand awareness, then I would highly recommend updating your promotional apparel. A t-shirt is something that customers can wear anywhere and they are spreading your brand to new places while doing it. These t-shirts are not meant to make you rich; they are meant to be low-cost advertisement. If you keep that concept in mind, then you will be able to extend your brand further!

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