Your Product Decorating Questions Answered: Decorator's Guide 101

  • May 7, 2020

You encounter promotional products every single day. You hold them, wear them, and maybe even smell them.

But, did you know every one of these branded products goes through an extensive design process, whether that’s adding logos, contact information, images, or more?  

There are countless ways to decorate a specific product. From embossing to screen printing it can become overwhelming when you’re the one ordering the promotional products for your business. Especially if you don’t understand the design process.

For example, say you’re ordering t-shirts and need to send the decorator a logo. What type of art file do you send them? Will it fit the imprint area? Do you choose screen printing or embroidery? 

Have no fear, we put together the following “Decorator’s Guide 101” that will make you feel confident with every decision you make. 

What type of artwork files should you provide? 

I’m glad you asked! The first rule of thumb is to always try and provide high-quality art. If it’s higher-quality and not pixelated, then your finished product will look more polished.

A vector file is the best option to send to decorators. Vector files include EPS, AI, or PDF and, in this case, are better to use because the decorator can alter the artwork’s scale without losing quality or fidelity. If your logo is saved as a raster file (JPEG, PNG, or TIFF) you can have a graphic artist convert your logo into a vector graphic through Adobe Illustrator. 

Next, you need to consider the imprint area – the space where you can show off your logo or other design elements that make up your brand. When ordering products, it’s important to consider your logo and if it will fit in the imprint area. If your logo is more vertical, yet the imprint area is stretched horizontally, maybe it’s best to find a different product that will accommodate vertical logos. If your logo is round, consider items that it would look best on, like a golf ball or baseball hat. 


6 Decorating Techniques You Should Know

Now that you know the type of artwork you need to provide, it’s time to understand the different decorating techniques. There are many ways to decorate a promo product, however, we have listed the top six techniques that will guide you seamlessly through the ordering process. 

Dye-Sublimation: This is a popular printing technique that is used when transferring images onto a specific material like plastic, paper, or fabric. Dye-sublimation is a lot like a science experiment with applied pressure and heat turning a water-based dye ink into a gas that then bonds with the material. 

Embossing and Debossing: Typically used on leather-goods or even cardstock, this is the process of creating raised or indented designs on a material. An embossed pattern raises up from the material, and a debossed pattern creates the opposite effect, with indentions against the surface of the material. 

Embroidery: This is one of the most common design techniques and is perfect for apparel or promotional products made with fabric like backpacks. Embroidery is when the fabric is decorated with a needle and yarn. You’ve probably seen this technique used on baseball caps, corporate polos, or even fleece blankets. It’s important to note that pricing varies based on the thread count. So, if you have an intricate, colorful business logo, it’s probably best to choose another design method.  

Engraving: Another popular design technique, engraving is the process of cutting grooves into a flat surface, typically on metal or glass. The tool decorator’s use for engraving is called a burin, a metal shaft that has a diamond-point shape at the end. You’ve probably seen engravings on wedding rings, trophies, or metal serving trays. Promotional products made with something engraved on them are often highly valued and personal.

Pad Printing: Ordering golf balls or watches? Pad printing it is! This printing method transfers ink onto 3-dimensional objects that may have divots or non-flat surfaces. Think of pad printing as stamping your logo onto a geometrical object via a silicone pad.  

Screen Printing: Did you know screen printing first appeared during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) in China? It’s a printing technique where a mesh stencil is used to apply layers of different colored inks onto fabric. If you’re ordering darker fabrics and want to make sure your logo pops against the background, screen printing is the way to go due to the thickness of the ink, which results in brighter colors.    


Ordering promotional products for your business should be easy and fun, not overwhelming. We hope this guide will help you understand the right questions to ask your decorator, so you’ll become a promo-ordering expert in no time! 



  • Category: Business Advice
  • Tags: Promotional Products, Ordering Promo Products, Promotional Products Industry, Decorating, Screen Printing, Engraving, Decorating Promo Products, Business Advice
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