Why logo shirts don't sell and the one exception

Marketing genius, Al RiesWhat does Al Ries say about logo t-shirts? Wait, who the heck is Al Ries? Marketing genius, Al Ries, is one of the top and most respected marketing gurus, having written some of the most important marketing books. I not only love his stuff, but also highly respect his work.

So what does he say about logo t-shirts? They don’t sell! Well actually, he never spoke of fashion or of design. And he never covered anything about t-shirts. But one of his theories did help me explain why there are so many brands that do logo t-shirts and why such brands will fail.

I never wanted to do shirts that dominantly say “Juzd” in different fonts, let alone have that as the main design element. I thought it was corny and not artistic, but everyone else was doing it. If all the top lines were doing it, and they were successful, then why wouldn’t I be successful doing it? There must be a reason. Logo on shirt = success? Well, all the other brands think so.

Then, an epiphany hit me hard last night. It was so simple, yet it took me so long to figure out. One of the important lessons I learned from Al Ries was that companies that use acronyms in in lieu of their name will never be remembered, but wait, what about the many corporations, such as IBM, KFC, and HP, who use acronyms successfully?

Take into consideration this: IBM, KFC, and HP are not successful because they use acronyms, they are successful, and therefore, they can use acronyms to represent themselves. When you say IBM, everyone knows the company and what they stand for, but no one knows “SUE” which, in this example, stands for “Sam’s Used Electronic” shop. Sam is an idiot for naming his company SUE, instead of naming it Sam’s Used Electronic shop. But we must note that Sam is also an idiot for getting into such a bad business – no one makes money by dealing with used electronics.

People will buy shirts with Ed Hardy, Diesel, and Guess plastered all over it because everyone knows these brands. They have build a strong enough reputation to sell shirts with just their name on it. But no one is going to buy a shirt with “Sam’s Collection” plastered all over it. So, the next time you see a collection of shirts from a new brand with no design, expect for their logo or name on the front, and shake your head while knowing why!

Logo plastering tees only sell when your brand is already well-known

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