Published Apr 18, 2024 ⦁ 15 min read
Design Your Merchandise: A Step-by-Step Guide

Design Your Merchandise: A Step-by-Step Guide

Designing your own merchandise is a powerful way to connect with your audience and boost your brand. Whether you're new to this or looking to refine your approach, this guide provides a step-by-step process to create merchandise that resonates with your brand and your audience. Here's a quick overview:

  • Define Your Brand Identity: Understand what your brand stands for to ensure your merchandise aligns with your mission and vibe.
  • Understand Your Audience: Get insights into your audience's preferences to create products they'll love.
  • Brainstorm Merchandise Ideas: Generate ideas that reflect your brand and appeal to your audience.
  • Select Your Merchandise Products: Choose items that showcase your brand well and will be cherished by your customers.
  • Design Your Merchandise: Tips on creating visually appealing and brand-consistent designs.
  • Choose Your Production Method: Decide between print-on-demand or working with a manufacturer based on your needs.
  • Finalize and Review: Ensure your designs meet your standards and appeal to your audience before full-scale production.

This guide aims to simplify the merchandise design process, making it accessible and actionable for anyone looking to enhance their brand presence through custom products.

Step 2: Understand Your Audience

Knowing what your audience likes is key to making merch they'll really want. Here's how to figure out what they're into:

Ask them. Use social media or emails to ask your audience what kind of stuff they'd like. You can ask about what products they're into, their favorite colors or styles, and how much they'd usually spend. Try a poll for quick answers.

Check who they are. Look at who makes up your audience: their age, where they live, if they're mostly guys or gals, and what they're interested in. This helps you decide what kinds of things to make. For instance, younger people might like cool, trendy designs more.

See what worked before. If you've sold merch before, see what items were hits. This tells you what your audience likes. Also, note what didn't sell so you don't make the same mistake.

Look at what content they like. Check out which of your posts, videos, or pictures get the most likes or comments. If something's really popular, it might make a great design for your merch.

Listen to them. Always be open to what your audience says on social media. You could even ask them to share their own ideas for merch. This way, you get direct insight into what they want.

Understanding your audience means making sure your merch is something they're excited about. It's about matching your brand with what your audience likes. Doing your homework here means you're more likely to make stuff they'll actually want to buy.

Step 3: Brainstorm Merchandise Ideas

Now that you know what your brand is about and what your customers like, it's time to think of what kind of merchandise you can make. Here's how to come up with some good ideas:

Have a brainstorming session

Get your team together and throw out as many ideas as you can. Don't worry if some ideas seem out there. Think about different kinds of products like clothes, accessories, or things for the office.

Use what you already have

Take a look at your brand's logos, colors, and slogans. Think about how you can put these on products to make your brand stand out more.

What have you made before?

Look back at any t-shirts or promotional items you've made in the past. See which ones were popular and use those ideas to help come up with new ones.

See what others are doing

Check out what your competitors are making. This can give you some inspiration, but make sure your ideas are still unique to your brand.

Ask your customers

Use social media to ask your followers what kind of merchandise they'd be interested in. This can help you figure out what products might sell well.

Think about special items

Consider making some high-quality items just for your biggest fans. Limited edition items can make your best customers feel special.

Once you have a bunch of ideas, start picking the best ones. Ask for feedback, use surveys, look at what's sold well before, and make sure your choices fit with your brand and what your audience likes. This way, you'll be more confident that people will want to buy what you make.

Step 4: Select Your Merchandise Products

When it's time to pick what kind of custom merchandise to make, you want items that show off what your brand is all about and that your customers will like. Here are some ideas based on what you might be trying to do with your brand:

T-Shirts & Tops

T-shirts are a go-to for getting your brand's logo or slogan out there.

  • Great for showing off your logo clearly
  • Come in different styles like v-necks or long sleeves
  • You can put designs on the front or back
  • A must-have for any brand

Sweatshirts & Fleece

Sweatshirts and fleece are about feeling cozy and part of a community.

  • Good for a less in-your-face logo look
  • Soft materials make people like your brand
  • Hoodies are a hit with the younger crowd
  • Casual styles work well for a laid-back brand vibe


Custom hats and beanies get your brand seen.

  • Hats can have your logo on the front or back
  • Beanies are great for cold weather
  • Visors are cool for summer
  • Wearing them often puts your brand out there


Bags with your brand on them are super useful and remind people about your brand every time they use them.

  • Backpacks are everyday items for students and commuters
  • Totes are perfect for shopping or the beach
  • Duffels are noticeable at the gym or for short trips
  • Useful stuff gets seen a lot

Think about what your brand stands for, what your customers like, and what you want to achieve with your merchandise. In the end, you want items that are high quality and that people will actually use and wear a lot. This helps your customers feel a strong connection to your brand.

Step 5: Design Your Merchandise

When you're making designs for your merchandise, you want to create something that people will actually want to wear or use. Here are some simple tips to help you do just that:

Ensure Visual Cohesion

  • Stick to your brand's usual colors, fonts, and logos to keep things consistent. This helps people recognize your merch easily.
  • Place your text and important design parts where they can be seen clearly.
  • Make sure the design fits well on different items, adjusting the size of your design elements as needed.

Apply Color Psychology

  • Pick colors that match what your brand stands for and that make people feel a certain way. For example, blues and greens can make people feel calm and trust your brand more.
  • Use colors that stand out against each other so important parts of your design pop. A dark text on a light background is a good combo.
  • Try not to use too many different colors. It's better to have a few that go well together.

Mind the Typography

  • Choose fonts that are easy to read and fit your brand's style. Sans serif fonts are usually clearer.
  • Text should be big enough to read easily. A good rule is to use 14pt font or bigger.
  • Avoid using all caps too much; it's harder to read. Stick with title case or sentence case.

Follow Print Requirements

  • When you're ready to print, use vector files (like EPS, AI, PDF) instead of pictures (like JPG, PNG) for a cleaner look.
  • Make sure any pictures are 300 dpi so they don't look blurry when printed.
  • Keep important parts of your design at least 0.5 cm from the edge to avoid cutting mistakes.
  • Get a design template from your printer to know exactly how to set up your design.

Designing takes a bit of back and forth. Start with some ideas, get feedback, make changes, order samples, and adjust as needed until you have something that really shows off your brand.


Step 6: Choose Your Production Method

When you're ready to make your merchandise, there are two main ways to do it: print-on-demand (POD) or finding a manufacturer. Let's look at what each option means for you.

Print-on-demand is like ordering just what you need, when you need it. You don't have to buy a lot of items at once. Instead, each product is made when someone orders it.

Pros Cons
You don't need to buy a bunch of stock upfront Your design options might be limited
You don't have to spend a lot to start Each item might cost more
Orders get filled quickly You might not have as many product types to choose from
Easy to link with online shops

Print-on-demand is a simple way to start selling custom-designed t-shirts, hoodies, and more without big upfront costs. It's great for trying out new designs to see what people like. But, you might find the product quality and customization options aren't as good as making items in bulk.

Work With a Manufacturer

If you want to make a lot of items and have full control over how they look, working with a manufacturer is the way to go.

Pros Cons
You can make products exactly how you want You'll need to order more items at once
More choices for materials and products It takes longer to get your items made
You can save money if you make a lot of items You need to figure out how to send orders to customers
Cheaper per item when you buy a lot You need some money to start

Working with a manufacturer lets you create unique items that really show off your brand. It takes more work to find the right partner, design your products, and pay for them. But, if you're sure your items will sell, this can be a good way to make your merchandise stand out.

Starting with print-on-demand is a low-risk way to test your ideas. As your business grows, you might want to start making your items in bulk to save money and have more control over how they look.

Step 7: Finalize and Review

Checking your final merchandise designs and getting samples before making a lot of them is super important. This step makes sure your items really show off your brand and that your customers will be happy with them.

Get Feedback on Your Designs

It's a good idea to see what others think about your designs before making a lot of merchandise.

  • Show designs to your team. Ask them if they think the designs really show off your brand well.
  • Ask your customers. Post some designs on social media or in a newsletter. See which ones people get excited about and ask for their opinions.
  • Use mockups. Putting your design on a picture of a t-shirt or mug helps people imagine it better. This way, you can get more useful feedback.

Use this feedback to fix anything that might not be quite right. This helps make sure everything's perfect before you order samples.

Order Design Samples

Before you order a bunch of merchandise, ask for some samples first.

  • Check the quality yourself. Samples let you look at the details like how the colors look and if everything's the right size.

  • Make any last changes. If something doesn't look as good in person, you can ask for changes before making a lot.

  • Decide on how to make them. Seeing a sample can help you choose between print-on-demand and finding a manufacturer.

  • Show them to people. Letting others see your samples can get them excited and give you more feedback.

Getting samples is a smart move. It means you'll be sure about what you're sending to your customers.

Do Small Test Orders

It's smart to start with a small order, like 50-100 items, before you order a lot.

  • Check the quality with more items. Sometimes problems only show up when you make more at once. Catch these early.

  • Try out your shipping. This helps you figure out any problems with storing, packing, and sending your items.

  • See if people really want to buy them. This small order lets you check if people are actually interested in buying your merchandise.

After you've checked everything with a small order, you can confidently order more, knowing your merchandise will be well-received.

By getting feedback, ordering samples, and starting with small orders, you make sure you end up with great merchandise. This saves you time and money and makes sure your customers get products they love.


Making your own brand merchandise might seem tough at first, but if you follow the steps we've talked about, you can do it without feeling overwhelmed.

Here's what you need to keep in mind:

  • Start by getting a clear picture of what your brand is all about. This makes sure your designs fit your brand well.
  • Get to know your audience. Learn what they like and what they need so you can make merchandise that they're excited about.
  • Come up with merchandise ideas that tell your brand's story and are something your customers would use in their daily lives.
  • Pick products like t-shirts, hoodies, hats, and bags that are high quality and will be used a lot.
  • When designing, focus on making things look good, sending a clear message, being easy to read, and ready for printing.
  • Before you go big, test your ideas with samples and small orders to make sure they're good.
  • Starting with print-on-demand can help you test the waters before you commit to larger orders with a manufacturer.

Stitchi makes it easy to turn your ideas into real products. They offer top-notch items, design tools, and help with making and sending your merchandise all over the world.

So, don't just think about it—start making your merchandise now. With Stitchi's help and these simple steps, you can create a strong brand presence that your customers will remember.

How do you make a merch design?

To design awesome merch, follow these steps:

  • Know Your Brand - Make sure you understand your brand's mission and style. This helps your merch feel true to your brand.
  • Find Out What Your Audience Likes - Learn what your audience is into. This way, you can create merch they'll love.
  • Make Your Merch Easy to Find - Use keywords and tags to help people find your merch online.
  • Use Cool Visuals - Pick eye-catching images, fonts, and colors. Good visuals draw people in.
  • Offer Different Products - Don't just stick to one thing like t-shirts. Try offering a variety of items, such as phone cases or tote bags.
  • Advertise Smartly - Use ads on social media and Google to reach your target audience.
  • Get Your Audience Involved - Ask your followers for their ideas on your merch. This makes them feel more connected to your brand.

How do you create merchandising?

Creating a good merchandising plan involves these steps:

  • Start with Understanding Your Customers - Use surveys and analytics to get to know your customers better.
  • Look at Your Numbers - Check out important metrics like how many people buy stuff and how much they spend.
  • Make Shopping Easy - Your online store should be easy to use, with clear product descriptions and nice pictures.
  • Personalize Your Pages - Create pages that change based on who's looking at them, showing them products they might like.
  • Tell Stories with Your Products - Use big pictures and creative displays to make your products stand out.
  • Show Off Customer Photos - Share pictures from your customers using your products. It helps build trust.
  • Keep Testing - Try out different ideas and see what works best.

Can you use Canva to design merchandise?

Yes, you can use Canva to make designs for things like custom t-shirts, mugs, and stickers to sell. Canva has lots of templates and tools you can use to create your design. Just make sure you're allowed to use the images you pick.

How do creators make merch?

Creators usually follow these steps to make their own merch:

  • Design Your Merch - You can either upload your own design or use online tools to create one.
  • Set Up and Promote Your Shop - Once your design is ready, you'll get a shop page to share with your fans.
  • Let the Site Handle the Rest - The website will take care of printing and shipping your orders, so you don't have to worry about it.
  • Earn Money - You make money from each sale, which is sent to you through services like PayPal.

This way, creators can sell merch without having to deal with making or shipping it themselves.

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