Every screen print shop wants to stand out. Whether that’s printing in a niche aspect of the trade, having excellent branding, or something else, you have to make your shop stand out above the noise. But how do you achieve that? There are plenty of ways to make your mark. Here are three tips to make your shop stand out.
#1: CLEAR MISSION STATEMENT & VALUES
Customers are loyal to a shop that offers similar values to their values. Let customers know your values or mission statement before they even start a conversation with you. It all starts with the name of your screen printing business. There’s a lot to be said about choosing a shop name that speaks to your values.
Take Good Neighbor Shirt Co. for instance. They believe that being a good neighbor starts with every business and every person.
“Being neighborly, being kind to one another, and lending a hand; that is our culture and the culture we want to create in our community. We all come from different backgrounds, stories, opinions, experiences, however, one thing we have in common is the ability to ‘Be Good, Be Kind,’” Ian Simmons said.
Other shops choose to define their brand not by the name, but by their prints. One example of this is Jonny Jewells, a water-based printer in Hawai’i. Jonny loves the easy-going life and has created his print shop around it.
“I am so lucky to print for brands similar to my own interests. This helps me to create a brand that reflects my personality — laid back and easygoing. We live close to skate parks and surf, so having the flexibility to hop out for a quick surf or watch my son perfect a new skate trick in between print jobs, or while I print has been key,” Johnny said.
No matter what your values are, make them clear to clients so they can align with you. Got those values nailed down? Next, it’s time to find your niche.
#2: FIND YOUR NICHE
Finding a niche in a creative industry can pose a challenge. If you’re curious, a niche is defined as “a specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service.” You have to figure out what you’re passionate about, make it your thing and hope other people love it as much as you do.
The good thing about finding a niche in such a creative industry is that the limit is only your imagination. Do you like sports? Comics? Inspired by a certain decade or culture? Use what you care about to create something other people will care about.
Boyd Creative Print Shop prints for many clients in the fishing industry. The team loves to fish and has found its niche in printing for like-minded people. Andrew’s love of fishing has fueled Boyd Creative Print Shop’s business. He’s a pro staff with many fishing brands, so he has contacts in the industry.
“He was already doing their designs and decals, so printing shirts and, eventually, patch hats was a natural extension. Since the beginning, we've grown to include tattoo shops and bands as additional adjacent niches, also our passions,” Chantel said.
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Turning your passions into screen printed garments is great, but what about printing styles? There are so many different, creative print styles out there. How do you make your t-shirt stand out above the next? One way to accomplish this is to do something special with the garment, like tie-dye it.
Press or Dye hand-dyes all their garments and screen prints on them too. Both Chainsaw Betty and Ashley Stone have been dying garments since their teens. Press or Dye garments are dyed with a non-destructive reverse dye.
They use dyeing methods like an ice dye, placing ice on the shirt and sprinkling powdered dye on the ice to dye the garment; hot dye, dying the fabric in hot water and dye; and cold water dye. They found that bleaching eats away at the fabric too quickly. Their favorite dye process is reverse dying, where you pull the pigment from the shirt to create a unique look. They also love bright-colored dyes dipped in black.
“It just depends on what the vision for the piece is,” Chainsaw Betty said.
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Ink is vital to screen printing. With so many types of ink, it’s easy to make custom Pantone mixes, use specialty inks, and get creative with the colors you print. But what if you did things a bit differently?
Take Adam of SLVR LNNG Clothing, who creates crystal-infused ink to print his brand’s garments. Talk about a niche, right? Not only has he found an audience with crystal-infused clothing, but he actually mixes powdered crystals into his ink.
“I fell in love with crystals and wanted to find a more practical way to carry them around with me, without having to have a pocket full of them. I developed and patented a way to convert raw crystals into a powder form that we mix into our ink,” Adam said.
Once you’ve found your niche, next comes the practical part: setting up your brand.
#3: BRAND & DESIGN
There’s so much to cover when starting a brand. For a full guide, check out this blog about establishing a brand. Let’s talk about two important factors: the logo and the commerce platform.
Everyone knows the importance of having a stand-out logo. It needs to be something people will remember, and recognize when they see it. The logo doesn’t have to be flashy, but it should incorporate your shop into a tidy package.
Let’s use SLVR LNNG as an example again. The logo shows a crystal turning into ink, which is exactly what Adam’s brand does: infuses crystals into screen printing ink. Looking at the logo, you get an idea of what the brand does, and once you know the science behind the ink, the logo is memorable.
Your logo doesn’t need to have your shop name, but it can be helpful. Whatever you choose as a logo, make sure it reflects your shop’s niche or values.
RELATED: ESTABLISHING A BRAND: CREATING A LOGO
THE COMMERCE PLATFORM
Now let’s talk about designing a commerce platform for your business. E-commerce has exploded in recent years. More people are buying online than ever. Here are some fast e-commerce facts for you, courtesy of Forbes:
- Over 20% of transactions are expected to take place online in 2023. The e-commerce industry is expected to grow 10.4% in 2023.
- 96.9 million people in the United States shop through social media, with Facebook and Instagram holding the top two social media shopping rates.
- 91% of people make purchases on their smartphones.
So what does this mean? Your website matters. And it needs to be mobile-friendly. With smartphone shopping becoming more and more popular, websites need to be mobile-friendly to entice viewers.
Connect your e-commerce site to your social media platforms if you can. Almost all platforms have this integration. The most important platforms to connect are Instagram and Facebook. If your niche caters to another platform like Pinterest, or you have a YouTube channel, connect those to your shop as well.
Integration to e-commerce can be frustrating, but there’s plenty of free help available. Platforms like Skillshare can teach you everything from the basics of e-commerce to turning a tidy profit and elevating your platform.
Don’t have a website? That’s where social media and other options like Etsy come in. So many printers get their start from Etsy or social media before turning their side hustle into a business, complete with a website. With a little effort, you can create your own e-commerce website that entices viewers and brings them in from all corners of the internet.
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There’s so much more to talk about when it comes to standing out. You could do live printing, pop-up markets, offer courses & coaching, and more. With a bit of creativity and a willingness to make mistakes in order to hone in on your shop’s values and niche, you’ll be off to the races soon enough.