Creating a t-shirt brand for Birmingham: ‘Inventees’

As part of our mini series on t-shirt design and creating your own personalised t shirt brand, this week’s focus looks at the glorious city that is Birmingham and it’s incredible relationship with inventions. So the idea of this exercise is really to demonstrate a little how we can develop branding from a basic conceptual starting point – in this case a city.

So when I got to investigating Birmingham, I was shocked to discover the number of things that I use on a daily basis were invented in the land of Brum.

Birmingham t-shirt designs

Birmingham is a slightly bizarre name for a city, and though not a bizarre as the name Towcester (pronounced ‘toaster’), like many English cities, there is logic in the name. In this case, Birm refers to its original leader, ham means home of the people and ing means’ of the people’ means home (ham) of the people (ing) of the tribal leader Birm or Beorma. For the likes of locals, it’s simply Brum.

Whether it’s because Brum is the second largest and populated city outside of London, or due to the rich immigration history in the area, the Brummies seem to be very creative people.

“Of the 4,000 inventions copyrighted in the UK a year, 2,800 come from the Birmingham area.”

Little do you know it, but you rely on the for everything from your microwave, right through to keyboards played by the Rolling Stones. So, we decided to set ourselves a little creative brief on which to base this fictitious clothing line. We imagined that the Birmingham’s tourist board, Visit Birmingham, decided to start a tourism campaign in order to promote and support the city’s many museums and local history. Since the city has produced so many groundbreaking discoveries and inventions, this became the main base for the designs.

The Birmingham Logo

So, the first thing would be to come up with a logo. We’re talking about a design for a city council, a public entity, it would have to be very simple and easy to understand for everyone (as should all logos be really). As for the name, just like with the name we created for the Bristol T-shirt brand, we used Inventions + T-shirts = Inventees. We used the symbol of the light bulb to represent good ideas and mustard yellow to make the logo stand out and easy to use on a wide variety of backgrounds. Inventions are clever, and often very fun, so, we decided to use play on words to make the t-shirts more appealing to the general public. We deliberately didn’t want to give them a sober tone coming from the council, but to be more fun and playful, making people more likely to want to buy them.


James Watt and his many brum-based creations

We’ve all heard of James Watt – he’s integrated into our language through the international measuring system named after him, commonly seen on light bulbs (though of course he didn’t invent the lightbulb, that was Thomas Edison). He wasn’t actually English though, but in fact Scottish, but he did live in Birmingham, hence the common association. He invented the photocopier too. His main glory though was through his invention of the steam engine, of course, after being inspired by the kettle, which takes us to the next invention.


Time for Large cuppa

A similar story applies to the kettle, which was not originally invented in Birmingham, although the kettle as we know it today certainly was, in 1922 by Leslie Large. He designed the mechanism that would allow for the wire element of the kettle to be immersed in water, so that we now don’t have to have a separate water storage compartment when we go to make a brew. Cheers Leslie.


Cadbury’s Dairy Milk

And what better to have with your cup of tea than a nice bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate? Ok so it’s not in itself an invention, but Cadbury’s chocolate has certainly improved the lives of millions since its production in 1905, with its special recipe that added more milk than its rivals. Birmingham is also the home to the closest thing you can get in real life to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Cadbury World.


The first ever Weather Maps

The need to predict the weather of course is really great in England. People seem to be forever talking about the sky, precisely because it really is a daily issue. In one day you could go from wearing your wellies and thermal underwear, to sunglasses and floppy sun hat in the blink of an eye. Thanks to the invention of the weather map in 1861, Brits would be forever grateful to Sir Francis Galton, who also was instrumental in getting maps published in newspapers, by collecting and plotting lots of weather data onto a map in 1861.


From outside to inside: the X-Ray

Like Galton, we can also be thankful to Birmingham folk for helping us to see things we hadn’t before through their implementation of the first X-rays in medical practice. X-rays had already been invented, but it wasn’t until 1895, that John Hall-Edwards saw their potential in the world of medicine. It’s thanks to him we have them in hospitals to this day.


Brum Bicycle Bells

Just another little invention to add on here this time by John Richard Dedicoat (James Watt’s apprentice), who invented the bicycle bell. In fact, Birmingham is pretty famous for lots of noisy inventions, including the car horn, the vacuum cleaner, portable music player, auto-changing record player and even the microphone.


We’ll never tyre of Birmingham.

And last but not least, they keep us rolling with the production of the first tyre in the Dunlop factory, 1888 in the land of Brum. Again, invented by a Scot, leaves Birmingham residents feeling proud all the same.


Would you like to see more Brummie related t-shirts? Are you designing your own clothing brand and need some advice? Drop us a line at Printsome and we’ll lend you a helping hand.

Printsome is a bulk t-shirt printing business delivering across the UK, from caps and t shirt printing Dundee to polo and t shirt printing swindon and everywhere in between. For a quick quote, some advice on DTG or promotional t-shirts, or simply a nice chat about t-shirt brand in Birmingham, just get in touch!

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