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How to Get Engagement in Spirit Wear Through a Design Contest

Updated: May 26, 2023

Spirit wear displaying your school’s logo and colors brings a sense of pride and cohesion to the school community. It can be an effective way to enhance your school culture. What better way to supercharge the excitement about that culture than to get your students involved in creating your spirit wear through a spirit wear design competition?

Team high-fiving.
Softball Team

A spirit wear design contest involves students designing a logo for school spirit wear. This can be an update of the school’s mascot, for an event (e.g., fun run), or even for graduation class shirts. You ask the student body to submit designs that are then put to a vote. The best submission is used directly or as a reference to create the final logo. Some guidelines can help your spirit wear design contest run smoothly.

Select Your Purpose

Before conducting such a contest, knowing what it will be used for is imperative. It can be for the school mascot, a particular event, or a specific category of spirit wear. If you have a clear objective in mind, it helps to guide the submissions and drive the sales of the items. Here are some ideas:

  • Graduation T-Shirts

  • Fun Run Team Shirts (a winner for each team)

  • Teacher Appreciation

  • One School, One Book event

  • PTA Membership Drive (shirt given to new members)

  • Spirit Wear Fridays

Determining where the logo will be placed - shirt or bottom, or both is also important. The placement of the logo is also a necessary part of deciding whether it will be large and occupy the center space or a relatively concise one at the shoulder and middle of the shirt. Determining the goal and the size will help artists create something appropriate.

Create Your Rules

As with any competition, rules are a must. This includes the contest duration, eligibility criteria, how and when the winner will be selected, and disqualification policy. Some schools include a clause that the winning design will be used as a reference and perfected by a senior artist or designer. Others use the logo as is.

Here are some example rules:

  • The contest can be held for one to two weeks.

  • Any student currently enrolled may submit an entry.

  • One entry per student.

  • The artwork must be original.

  • Artwork should be primarily in school colors.

  • Lettering should be legible with at least some spacing between each letter.

  • Artwork should be submitted in .png format or .eps format, where able. If unable, PDF is acceptable but will likely need to be converted later.

  • The artwork should be labeled with the student’s name. However, the student’s name should not appear anywhere in the drawing. The easiest way to handle this is to name the file with the student’s name.

  • The judges shortlist 5-10 best submissions, then voting determines the winner.

  • Voting will be conducted online (e.g., Survey Monkey or another tool), where every entry is marked with a reference number, and the voter selects the option s/he finds best.

  • The winner would be announced on [insert date].

  • Any submission will be deemed disqualified if the above guidelines of the color palette, size, placement, and lettering are not followed.

Publicize Your Contest

Whenever you run a challenge, it is crucial to market it as much as possible. This helps create hype and encourages a maximum number of people to sign up for it. The contestants then find a greater incentive to emerge successful when there is a broader audience. Try spreading the word on social media, the school’s website or blog, in the principal’s newsletter, on the sign-out front of the school, and by word of mouth. Use some free social media templates to make your design pop.

Select Your Judges

Once the aim, rules, and incentives are in place, the next step is to finalize the judges. A set of three judges keeps the group small so decisions can be made quickly but large enough that various perspectives can be represented. We recommend one teacher, administrator, and PTA or PTO member. The Judges should rank their top 10-15 designs. Once ranked, the Judge should have a live conversation (via phone, video, or in person) to finalize their top 5-10 to put out for student body vote.

Run Your Contest

Run the voting. Keep it open for at least one week and encourage all students to vote. You may want to give prizes for winners & the two runners-up - a free t-shirt or a small gift card - or bragging rights may be enough! Make sure to select and publicize the winner once selected. In a tie, the Judges should be prepared to make a final decision.

Once a logo is selected, work with your favorite print shop (local or online) to offer the shirt to your entire community!


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