Tips & Advice

How to Design the Perfect Branded Tote

February 7, 2020

Our new year’s prediction? That 2020 will be the year of the tote bag! As we make a welcome transition away from single-use plastic bags to eco-friendly bags for life, we’re seeing more and more tote bags out there. Which also makes them the perfect promotional tool for your brand. Tote bags are the ideal canvas for your inspired imagery or compelling typography, all of which will help your branded bag stand apart from all the rest.  Make this the year you invest in a timeless, bold yet practical accessory. Read on for our top tips for designing an eye-catching tote for your next campaign. 

1.  Keep it Simple Yet Bold

Does this “Bold Honest Smart” bag catch your eye? 

branded tote

Our first tip is to make a loud, but clear splash with your tote. As you envision your bag, aim for a straightforward design that makes use of bold colour, typography or imagery. Consider a simple shape or size, but allow yourself to stray outside the lines when it comes to the content or graphics. The idea is to design something that people will see and understand from far away – think of it as a walking, talking billboard. The right typography, for example, can communicate personality, mood and trust in a single glance. 

This is achievable no matter what industry you’re in. Back to our question, above. It sure catches our eye! It’s not a designer bag, nor is it made by someone in fashion, though it certainly looks like it (it’s actually the work of a branding agency). Rather, this attention-grabbing example showcases a real estate brand. Note the bold color, clear and striking font and well-placed company name. 

For further inspiration, check out some of the maker sites like Pinterest and Etsy.  If you do find an interesting example, you can explore resources like Font Squirrel’s Matcherator, which allows you to upload an image to identify the font family. Or search for font ideas and combinations on sites like Hubspot, Design Shack and Canva.

2. Be Creative with Content, Material and Size

Another thing to keep in mind is that simple doesn’t have to mean boring. First, get creative in your use of sayings or phrases. Humor is a great approach, especially if you consider your tote bag as a walking billboard. A few examples we came across include phrases like “Emotional Baggage” or “Life is Short and So Am I” or “Dog Hair, Don’t Care”. Think about the key message or point you want to convey and come up with a different, compelling way to tell that story. Or what pop culture moments could you leverage for your bag? Consider music lyrics, poetry or lines from movies, but make sure you have permission and rights to print these things on for-sale items! 

Your creativity doesn’t end with your content, either. Another way to differentiate your bag is via the material. We offer a range of interesting, tactile materials, many of which are eco-friendly, like jute, organic cotton and recyclable Tyvek® material that is also washable, water resistant and breathable. 

Size is another way to set your tote bag apart from others. What about an oversized tote bag, perfect for your on-the-go customers for weekend getaways or shopping trips? In fact, we think these large, look-at-me bags will be one of the hottest accessory trends of 2020.

3. Be Consistent

If your tote bag will be part of a larger branded line, consistency is key. While you always have the freedom to stray from your style, consider retaining a few elements of your well-curated brand, such as the colours, fonts or logo usage. Thankfully, today’s bag manufacturers, like Rocket Bags, employ state-of-the-art printing technology to ensure an exact replica of your brand, no matter how complex or detailed your logo or assets are. Depending on your company and reputation, name recognition is also a great way to convey the best qualities and character of your brand via a tote bag – perhaps it will exude traits like sustainability, reliability, luxury or quality. 

The outdoor company Patagonia, for example, created this simple, yet striking tote bag that features the brand’s iconic logo.

branded tote

4. Have fun!

Our last tip is the best one. When you’re ready to get started with your tote bag, have a little fun with it! Designing your custom tote bag is an opportunity to transform your vision into something tactile (and, likely, profitable). Allow yourself to be creative; there are no wrong ideas here. Consider crowdsourcing these ideas with your team or a group of friends and family; you might be surprised at how these other voices can help you hone in or translate your vision. 

Another somewhat surprising resource to consider is your supplier. A good bag manufacturer should have expert designers on hand that you can consult and iterate with to get to a final design. When selecting a designer and manufacturer, look for a company that takes the time to get to know you and your goals. You should also expect to receive a sample in advance so that you can review and approve the bag design before you move to production. Getting to the last step – delivery of your perfect tote bag – requires a great manufacturing partner. 

We hope these tips help you design the perfect tote bag in 2020. Remember, keep it simple yet bold, unleash your creativity, keep brand consistency in mind and have some fun – all things that we do very well at Rocket Bags, especially the fun part! With the right designer and bag supplier, you’ll be well on your way to creating the perfect little walking billboard that will be seen for years to come. Please get in touch with us today to share your ideas and merchandise goals.