You’re a tech startup based outside the Bay Area, and you’re wondering if you should bring company shirts to wear or give away at an upcoming conference or event in San Francisco.
While company branding is important, to bring shirts or not is a small decision. If you have the time and money, do it. If not, don’t stress about it as it’s not going to break you.
The obvious advantage of wearing a company shirt is being easily identifiable at an event. But you can run the risk of looking sloppy, unprofessional, or out of sync with trends with a poor fit or colors. For women that’s pretty much guaranteed if you’re wearing a men’s cut t-shirt.
American Apparel is the brand I strongly recommend for fit and fabric. If you have women on your team make sure to order them women’s sizes. Zendesk has great women’s shirts. The added advantage of having women’s shirts is because so few companies offer them, they tend to get worn more.
What you want to make sure to avoid is company polo shirts. Trust me when I tell you these shirts don’t look more business appropriate, they just look like a uniform for a 90s software sales guy.
If you’re wondering if a polo shirt might be a good option for those who play golf, I would say that while I know a lot of people in San Francisco’s tech industry, I don’t know anyone at a startup or in the tech press who plays golf. You’re more likely to find those folks rock climbing at Mission Cliffs or organizing a round of dodgeball or Ultimate Frisbee in Golden Gate Park.
If you’re meeting with a VC and want to dress it up a bit, any dress shirt is a better choice than a company polo. They know what company you’re with if they’re meeting you.
Most important for your next event or conference – be rested, have a smile, bring your business cards, and an iPad to demo your app.