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Three-brains Spreadshirt shop launch – it’s up and running!

Screengrab of the Three-Brains Spreadshirt shop home page showing design topics for T-shirt designs

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Why read this? : We share thoughts from our recent first Three-Brains Spreadshirt shop launch. Learn how we came up with our first designs and the technicalities of setting up the shop. Plus, we share what’s coming next. Read this for ideas on what it takes to launch a Spreadshirt shop.

We launched our first online shop for Three-Brains today. That might not sound like big news. But it is for us.

Because we’d to do a whole bunch of things for the Three-Brains Spreadshirt shop to launch

This article will cover what some of those were. So if you’re thinking about setting up an online store, you can follow the steps we took. 

To do that, we’ll go back over that opening sentence. 

Screengrab of the Three-Brains Spreadshirt shop home page showing design topics for T-shirt designs

First, the word “first”. Then “online shop”. And finally “launched”

“First” online shop launch

As one of the “brains” of our Three-Brains deals with e-commerce, we wanted to make sure we had something on our site which puts those skills into practice. Setting up our Three-Brains Spreadshirt shop is only our first entry into selling online as Three-Brains. We believe there are more D2C experiences we can add in the future. 

The set-up and launch of the store followed the principles of our setting up an online store guide. The shop acts as a live working case study for us.

We’ve started with Print On Demand. But as per our how to start selling online guide, there are many more e-Commerce channels including marketplaces, dropshipping and working with online retailers. 

All of which we plan to look at in the future. 

Print On Demand - fast and cheap

We picked Print on Demand because it’s relatively fast and cheap to start selling online. The infrastructure to sell is set up for you, and you only have to focus on your designs

We still had to apply many of our marketing and creative skills though.

For example, we did market research to work out who the designs were for. We had to think about how designs would fit our brand identity. And of course, we had to use our graphic design tools, especially Adobe Illustrator to produce the actual designs.

Online T-shirt Store Concept designs

We had an initial idea generation session around what we could do and then used secondary research to refine the ideas. 

We used Google Trends and Google Ads keywords to see what was popular around the themes we came up with for our designs.  

The first concept related to introverts.

We’ve seen a lot of social media coverage about introverts versus extroverts in the past few years.

Woman wearing a green T-shirt with The Introverts Guide to Christmas Day, with 16 different activities from 6am to 9pm

The secondary research confirmed people still search on introversion. But when we looked at what other T-shirt designs for Introverts were around, some were OK (eg. this INFP T-shirt), but most were a bit lame. 

They seemed simplistic and didn’t have the depth of thinking we thought introverts would like.

With Christmas coming up and knowing what an introvert’s ideal Christmas looks like, that’s when our creative thinking kicked in. 

We had this idea of an ideal “Christmas Day in the life of an introvert” design. Check out our design notes for more on our thinking. 

And of course, where there are introverts, there are also extroverts. So, we also took an ideal Christmas day template and applied that to how an extrovert might see it. 

Man wearing a T-shirt saying the Extroverts Guide to Christmas Day with 16 different extovert activities from 6am to 9pm

Christmas movies T-shirt concept

Our second concept is also Christmas-related. It touches on the fact people always choose from the same limited selection of movies at Christmas time.

This idea from a creative point of view was much simpler to develop.

The shapes are simpler, there are fewer items and it’s mainly a text-driven design. 

We don’t think it looks quite right yet. Maybe there’s too much text? And it’s not easy to read what it says on the T-shirt from a distance. 

But given we’re just starting on our T-shirt designs, it doesn’t look too bad.

And it gives us something to work on to see if the idea will appeal to Christmas online shoppers.  

Man wearing a blue T-shirt that says Christmas Day decisions and shows a TV with 4 options - baddie falls from skyscraper, creepy guy on doorstep saying nothing, family flee nazis while singing, grown man overacts but nicely

Check trademark and copyright

We went through several iterations of the movie design. To be honest, we were worried about risks on copyright and trademarks. We wanted to be sure we weren’t infringing as the last thing we wanted were any legal issues.

Here are a few of the articles we read about this. It’s vital to know what’s legal when it comes to what to design. Nobody wants to get sued.

Small metal statue of lady of justice holding scales

It was clear we couldn’t use the actual name of any movie. That would be a clear copyright infringement. So, next, we thought we’d be clever and use some of the dialogue from a movie.

But a bit more research showed this to be a legal grey area. Someone else created the dialogue, so arguably owns the copyright. We decided to go a different way. 

Be original and stay safe legally

The safest legal route for this design idea was to create something more original and that was more in the parody area. And also a design which wasn’t specific to a single movie or TV show. Tropes about movie genres aren’t copyrightable, so that’s the route we took. 

That led us to create the TV screen. And on the screen, generic descriptions of tropes you find in many movies or TV shows at Christmas.

Not any specific movie or dialogue.

They may suggest a specific movie or TV show to you. But there are many movies or shows they could be. In the same way, we could have chosen “Car Chase” or “Buddy Movie” or “Cartoon Animals” as our choices. 

We believe we’ve created something unique in this design with no copyright issues.

“Online shop” - Three-Brains and Spreadshirt

We reviewed the available Print on Demand options and settled on Spreadshirt as the best place to start our online shop. 

The Spreadshirt shop documentation was very clear. They had a lot of positive user reviews.

It seems like they also have facilities in Australia which was a positive for us. (We later found they don’t, but that’s a lesson for another day). 

Setting up the account was easy. Once we had our designs, they were quick to upload.

Spreadshirt back end - what the shop management page looks like

Setting up the design of the shop didn’t have as many options as, say, a Shopify or WooCommerce shop. (See our online store website guide for more on these). But there was still enough flexibility to be able to customise the look of the store.

It doesn’t quite give us the full website benefits we’d get if we ran the whole thing on our own website. Yes, it connects our target audience, brand identity and customer experience. But using the Spreadshirt platform to do this limits how much control we have.

For something free to use though, we won’t complain too much. 

Take care with your colour choices

A couple of learnings for next time is to remember there are a huge amount of colour options for T-shirts in the Spreadshirt shop.

We’d take more care with the colours in our designs.

We ended up having 2 different versions of each design. One with light fonts which work better on dark-coloured T-shirts. And one with dark fonts which work better with light colour T-shirts.

And because we added some reds and greens to add a bit of Christmas flavour, some of the red and green T-shirts didn’t work as the text was illegible.

Spreadshirt does let you choose which colours are available by T-shirt, though we found the system fiddly.

You have to apply the changes to each product and then apply all your changes across the range. We had a couple of times we forgot the second step and had to redo all the colour choices. 

A few thoughts on the technical side

Embedding the site into our WordPress site took a bit of research to get right.

It recommended we use a WordPress plug-in called WP-Spreadplugin and then API link to Spreadshirt.

We tried this but eventually worked out that to access the API key, you need either an American or European Spreadshirt site.

The Australian Spreadshirt site isn’t set up to handle API links. Mildly annoying. 

Close up on person writing (typing) on a MacBook

However, there’s a useful automatically generated Javascript code you can copy from the Spreadshirt shop set-up and paste it into your WordPress page. This was how we eventually got the page to embed.

We found out how to do that by looking at this article called How to Easily Create a T-Shirt Shop in WordPress.

However, not so easy when you realise you can’t paste Javascript code directly into a WordPress page.

You need to be able to add a custom field. This wasn’t a default on our WordPress site. It wasn’t until we found this wonderful additional article on WP Beginner under Option 3 using the Code Embed plug-in that we got the link up and running.

“Launched” 

We say, launched, but to be honest, the Spreadshirt version of this site we pushed live 2 days ago.

We spent yesterday refining the designs and the look of the Three-Brains Spreadshirt shop launch site.

It was only today we set the link up to the Three-Brains site and we can say the shop is now officially live and ready to sell.

However, we’ve still much to do to start selling. For example, next week, we’ll be working on the advertising message for the shop.

Inside a concept hall, lots of confetti flying in air, with audience reaching out their hands towards it

Then, we’ll focus on digital media. Setting it up to be searched properly. Some paid search. Some social media posting.

The “launch” of an e-commerce site is only the first step in the journey. The Three-Brains Spreadshirt Shop launch was our first step.

Conclusion - Three-Brains Spreadshirt Shop Launch

That’s about all for this week.

We know our shop’s not perfect, but you have to start somewhere. Having an online shop is better than not having an online shop, and though we’ve almost certainly made some marketing mistakes along the way, we know we can only get better. 

Watch this space for more updates. Check out the shop and see what you think. Or get in touch, if you’d like some help setting up your own Spreadshirt shop. 

Photo credit

Legal scales : Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

Person typing on a Macbook : Photo by Thomas Lefebvre on Unsplash

Confetti : Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

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