Hi Everyone,

Re t-shirts. You should definately offer a t-shirt with a small U logo....and this in bigger letters.

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Got the t-shirtsLife is good, have a nice day, etc. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.

Bill Murphy Jr.

Dec 2


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Coming soon, just as fast as I can figure it out! Plus other, better designs. Ideas welcome!

On the advice of several readers (thanks!), I’ve spent a bit of time exploring how to create Understandably-branded merchandise. This will be fun, and I have some cool ideas. (Actually, I’d love to hear your further suggestions, either by replying to this newsletter or in the comments!)

Anyway, this exploration led down a rabbit hole, learning again about the parade of people who have built entire businesses on the back of t-shirt slogans. After a few hours … well, I’d neither finished designing my merch or writing today’s newsletter.

So, let’s explore my ADHD-enabled wanderings. Here are some inspiring examples of people who took catchy phrases, merchandised them, and made good money in the process.

1. "Life is good."

If you grew up in New England like I did, chances are you know this brand.

Brothers Bert and John Jacobs first tried to start a t-shirt business in 1989, but they wound up broke and living in their van before they came up with the slogan that would change their lives: "Life is good." 

As of 2007, they'd sold 20 million shirts, and had a company making $100 million a year.

2. "Have a nice day."

In the early 1970s, two brothers, Bernard and Murray Spain, trademarked this phrase, added a smiley face logo (which had been designed by an artist named Harvey Ball about a decade earlier), and sold stuff.

By 1972, the Spain brothers had reportedly sold 50 million smiley face buttons. Plus posters, and of course, t-shirts. (Their story even sort of made it into the 1994 movie, Forrest Gump.)

3. "Yankees suck!"

Around the turn of the 21st century, two more Boston friends (I’m sensing a pattern) took this popular cheer at Red Sox games, put it on t-shirts, and sold them for $10 outside Fenway Park. They were “wicked” popular.

According to a report in Grantland, however, while their enterprise made a ton of money it allegedly got caught up in a mess of crime, drugs, and gentrification.

For a while however, the saying was "ubiquitous" in New England, sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy told Grantland, "to the point where you'd hear it at graduations, or weddings. Or bar mitzvahs."

4. "Ranger Up"

This is an Army saying: "To prepare yourself for an immense amount of suffering and learn to enjoy it," according to Urban Dictionary.

In 2006, Nick Palmisciano, an Army veteran and West Point graduate, started making t-shirts and selling them to ROTC cadets across the U.S. The most recent financial data I can find shows it described as a “$20 million business” as of 2018. Ain’t nuthin’. 

5. "Keep Calm and Carry On"

This phrase has its origins in a public service poster that the British government put out during the Blitz in World War II. In 2000, the owner of a used bookstore in England came across one of the posters, framed it, and put it up by the cash register.

It was very popular, and since the saying is not copyrighted, others made millions printing t-shirts, posters, and other objects.

"I didn't want it trivialized," the bookstore owner later commented. "But of course now it's been trivialized beyond belief."

Bonus: "You needn't be a soldier to have your own personal T-shirt."

Although it wasn't actually printed on a t-shirt, that's the slogan Sears Roebuck & Co. used after World War II, when civilians began to wear the white t-shirts that veterans had been issued in the Army. Without it, none of the others would have been possible.

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7 other things worth knowing today!

And if you haven't copywrited it....get busy.

I would buy a t-shirt with that on it....and as a marketing idea....I think if I was wearing that t-shirt - lots of people would be asking me..."what's that all about"?

Me: it's a daily newsletter.....you should check it out!

I sure you know....everyone loves that part of your daily letter!!

Rgds Pete in Toronto

PS: I know nothing about marketing...lol!

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Opps! That wasn't good!!

Sorry about that...I accidently copied and pasted a link...which messed up my comment: will try again

Re: t-shirts

I would buy a t-shirt from your online store that had a small U logo and then in bigger letters:

"Also, 7 other things worth knowing today."

Marketing wise, I think that would have a lot of people asking me: "What's that all about?"

Me: it's a daily newsletter called Understandably - you should check it out.

And as you know, everyone loves that part of the newsletter.

Pete in Toronto

Caveat: I know nothing about marketing!...lol

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There are plenty of promotional advertising entrepreneurs who will work with you to design the logo and slogan for free. They'll offer you multiple options that might lead you down a different rabbit hole. Also, think more broadly than t-shirts since this will become your brand.

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As Bruce said there are many logo designers who will work with you for free. I see mugs since you come out in the morning.

Other ideas: Start Your Day a Lot Better


7 things worth knowing about

much smaller logo

have a logo designed that pictures a brain and heart

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great idea, elect your Children to lead and direct you as they might have a great pulse as it grows and you can stay focused on impacting us all with what we all enjoy about this newsletter.

It’s really cool, get it started, it means so many things:

About “you”, the other person. This facilitates positive conversations leading to better balanced conversations amongst many different opinions.

I enjoy the balanced information and “Understanding” more about so many things that which is a big part of why I enjoy the subscription.

It seems like a great way to involve the people you love the most. Have the gang with with it all, production of the shirts, marketing and sales (order taking) and of course fulfillment which all can be done in your home while it’s proven out to the entire family and then it’s outsourced to larger contractors as needed all while the family makes it grow.

Did I miss the link to order?

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I’ve been learning this year how to open an online store as part of my company’s website. What I’ve found most helpful is the print-on -demand (pod) type of service, such as that offered by Printful (and a few others). You set up the designs, and the web store, and when someone orders a t-shirt or a coffee mug, the pod service prints it and ships it. You’re not stuck with any inventory, or the task of running a fulfillment center. It’s genius! Go for it!

Those services integrate well with the web hosting services such as squarespace. These make the whole process relatively easy. Not really necessarily EASY for novices, or folks like me who were adults before computers were available in regular businesses or homes or pockets—- but a LOT easier anyway! You’ll have no problem with it. But use that kind of service for sure!

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Also, apropos of the Star Wars reminiscence, I fondly remember being 13 with a 42-year-old freshly divorced mom, standing in a line for 4-5 hours outside the Cooper Theater in Denver in 95 degree heat one day in August 1978. Eventually we got in!! The theater was air conditioned which was awesome, and huge with multiple tiers of seating, and they had the newest latest greatest Dolby surround sound system!!! … which was why we’d driven to Denver to see the movie instead of seeing it in our own town, where it was also playing, but our local theatre had , you know, just “regular” sound.

Gosh, it was fun and we loved it!

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Dec 2, 2022·edited Dec 2, 2022

I’m not the first to write this in comments, and I know it’s more of a choice or boundary, not really an idea: Smaller logo, pls.

I’m not the type to wear funny or catchy slogans or images on my t-shirts. I wear them every day in the warmer months, and they’re just plain black or gray, not because of my disposition but because they match with anything so I don’t have to buy more than a few to get me by between laundry loads.

Not a big logo guy, either. Hate being a walking billboard. Don’t mind a small logo in upper left, but that’s it.

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Small on the front and large on the back. Large on the front is just wrong. And for long sleeve t-shirts, a logo down the sleeve is way cool.

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Dec 2, 2022Liked by Bill Murphy Jr.

Forget the tee shirt idea, sizing would be the biggest issue. Coffee mugs is the way to go. I remember you stating previously how many of your readers enjoy a cup of coffee while reading publication. Something about a nickel.

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I was planning to suggest the same thing.

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Let’s hope Elon gets the brain implant and his head explodes! Kidding, but seriously, he expects people to trust something like this when he can’t even handle twitter?

I think the Birds Aren’t Real t-shirts are pretty funny.

Re: Disney - what happened to anti-trust laws? I continue to be amazed at all the mega mergers that stifle competition leading to higher prices for us all.

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Understandably.com "Like a box of chocolates... You never know what you are going to get!"

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Thanks for the comments on the t-shirts. I hear y'all loud and clear about the size of logo, color, etc. TBH this was me being cheap and using the free image generator on placeit.com simply to create a photo for the article. Keep 'em coming!

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Although my fondness of plain shirts might keep me, personally, from owning one…

…I love the idea of somehow including “7 other things worth knowing today” on the shirt somehow. I think that will definitely stimulate inquiries!!

Of course, this locks you in, at least temporarily, to that format. But HEY…I won’t complain. <evil grin>

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Love your idea! I’ll advertise for you anytime so make it subtle so people will have to ask about it.

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The comment on the top of every e-mail "Thanks for reading. We rely on reader support. Please consider upgrading to the paid/premium edition!" Complete with your logo and blue "upgrade here" button!

I would LOVE to see this on a T-shirt, and I would definitely wear it until it wore out!

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Anyone ever hear of THIRSTY THURSDAY?

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Don’t leave us hanging!

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Thirsty Thursday was thought up by my high school classmate who was manager of our AA baseball team, The Asheville Tourists. It wasn’t legal to drink booze of any kind in Asheville until 1979 because the bootleggers and Baptists objected. I’m mostly kidding about that but not by much. Anyway, when we could finally drink on premises, Thirsty Thursday became a night when one could buy beer at a lower cost than usual and have fun watching some of baseball’s later well known players work their way through the minor leagues.

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I’m ready for it.

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