"Branding is a t-shirt." Several times this past week I've visited the home of the branding expert I mentioned in an earlier blog post. I assisted in crafting a licensing strategy for a children's brand my company had entered into business with. The branding guy repeated "branding is a t-shirt" several times during our meetings. I laughed a little each time.
Shirts are bullshit. They are the sad efforts of a baby to stand out from other babies. And, for that reason, they are perfect branding tools. T-shirts proudly display what you lack in life. They announce your personal brand to the world by co-opting the logo of a like brand. If you're wearing a Behemoth shirt, we can safely assume that you resent attractive people. If you're wearing a Marilyn Manson/Slipknot/ICP shirt, it's clear you don't have a father, or you don't have a father that doesn't molest you when drunk. If you're wearing a Lady Gaga shirt we understand you lack the filter that distills good taste from mass appeal. T-shirts are how you cut to the chase. Why have a conversation with someone who doesn't share your interests when you can fly a flag to attract only those in your tribe?
As a band, we've resisted t-shirts as a marketing tool. We don't put much effort into our "look" as people and it seemed corny to put effort into what would ultimately be other people's looks. We make them to put gas in the tank for tours, but anyone who owns one can tell you- they are functional and nothing more. They typically feature a photo of the band. Always seemed reasonable to me because that's what bands do- be bands. Putting an image of other shit on a band shirt enforces the persona the band is trying to generate. I had always sort of hoped we didn't need a persona. A branding expert would say that's foolish as hell, and I would have to concede that point to him now that I know better. But I still can't see fit to craft an image using a product I only use to wipe cum off my belly. So our shirts have gone up in quality, but they will likely always retain the following message "you are buying this because you like the band. No one will think you are cooler or more interesting for purchasing this item. You could wear a blank shirt and just give us $12 if you want to cut to the core of this whole thing."
Mike at Hellfish asked us if we'd be interested in doing a webstore. I tried to convince him that we don't sell many shirts and it may not be worth his time. But he likes what we do and we appreciate that. So here we go. I like this shit. I may like it more without our name on it, but this is how it works. "Branding is a t-shirt."