How to create custom bags

The high street isn’t what it used to be. In just a short span of time, it’s become de rigeur for brands and businesses to offer customers long-term, reusable bags. As customer attitudes have shifted, many consumers are now keen to reduce their use of single use plastics. This means they’re keen to be offered a personalised shopping bag – especially if it’s from a brand they already admire or have an affinity to.

From the classic tote to sturdier jute bags, there are a number of different options for custom bags, with the one you choose depending on a number of factors: your budget, your brand’s style, whether you intend to them to be promo giveaways or premium products for sale.

The real mark of success is your bag making it into the regular rotation for the customer you gift (or sell) your bag to. This way, each shopping trip they make is another chance for other potential future customers to spy your logo as they’re out and about.

For any businesses aspiring to create custom bags that will make the cut, finding their way to be a regular feature on their customers’ arms, we’ve picked out the key steps to consider when designing, planning and printing your bags.

Four key questions to ask yourself when planning your personalised shopping bags

1. What kind of bag do you want?

The main two options for custom bags are tote bags and jute bags. As you’ve probably noticed, tote bags are by far the most popular choice, and for good reason: they’re simple, versatile and the perfect blank canvas for your inventive designs. (For some of our favourite examples, head here.) But it’s worth considering jute bags too, depending on what you’re after.

The tote is a thinner material, made of cotton, easily slung over the arm. Jute bags, on the other hand, are a tougher affair – they take their name from the material they’re made of, jute, the same material used for burlap sacks. It’s a thick, chunky fabric, and the handles of the bag, for instance, won’t be as flexible as those of a tote bag.

But if you’re selling goods that are big and weighty, or if your catering to clients that might like something that’s really going to last, then jute might be the bag for you. It’s also worth thinking about in terms of sustainability, with jute’s long-lasting nature making for a bag that will last a long time before needing to be replaced. (For more on jute bags, and their sustainability credentials, head here, and for inspiring jute bag designs, head here.)

2.How do you want to use colour?

A tote bag doesn’t have to mean plain canvas. We produce totes in an array of colours, a route we would recommend over printing large designs in ink. One pitfall of more ambitious tote bag designs is using a lot of ink. (For more on inks and printing, generally, head here). It can make the bag stiff and is best avoided. For this reason, we’d advise not to print block colours.

Instead, we’d suggest trying to do more with less – or if you do want a block colour, think about using a coloured bag with dyed fabric. If you’re using a ready to print tote, this means choosing from a range of set colours. If you’re doing bespoke, then you can get a bespoke dye – but this is only possible with orders over 3000. Pictured below is a bespoke bag we created for Transferwise, with a bespoke dye, creating the striking diagonal split between blue and white.

3. Do you want to go bespoke?

As mentioned above, there are two types of tote bags: ready to print or bespoke. As their respective names suggest, you can either print your design straight on a tote that’s ready to go, or have more control over the product itself.

With a bespoke tote, you can put pockets on the inside, get bespoke dyes and to edge to edge printing. One thing to keep in mind here is timeframes: if you’re on a tight schedule, you’re probably better off with ready to print. Bespoke prints aren’t necessarily more expensive than ready to print (depending on which options you choose), but the turnaround time is slower: ready to print is around seven days, whereas bespoke is four weeks.

4. How thick do you want your bag to be?

If you opt for a tote over jute, it’s still possible to get something that’s weighty and feels like a quality item.

At ICON, we measure our bags in ounces, ranging from five to ten. If you want a light and breezy bag, or if your budget is lower and the bags are intended as giveaways, then five is likely the choice for you. Eight ounces is a good middle ground, offering a thicker feel that’s still more affordable per unit. But if you’re looking for a proper weighty tote, then we’d recommend you go for the heaviest option at ten ounces.

Looking to create custom custom bags? Want to talk about how to bring your bespoke idea to life? At ICON Printing we can create deliver fast turnaround custom tote bag orders. Get a quote in 2 minutes online.