The power of visual messaging in branding is obvious when you think of McDonald’s Golden Arches, the Apple icon, or Ralph Lauren’s Polo Pony, where each visually sends strong messages about the brand and what they stand for.
We live in a society where the clothing you wear represents your values, beliefs and purpose and helps others identify with you. In retail, effective branding can make you appear more approachable, professional and confident, and often make or break a sales opportunity. When considering whether or not to implement a uniform, it’s important to remember that your staff are mini billboards, whose job is to connect with your customers and tell the story of your brand. There are several things to consider when setting this up:
Be a flamingo in a flock of pigeons
What is your team wearing and what is that saying about your brand? First impressions count and dressing well is one of the few opportunities you have to really stand out in the crowd. In any business so much time, thought and money goes into sales and marketing planning and strategy with the overall objective – increased revenue. Uniforms are generally the last on the list of priorities when business strategising, even though it is probably the most economical choice in sending a powerful marketing message around your brand. Clients will form their opinion on the quality of the product or service you are offering based on the first interaction with your team. Team members will wake up each day and be reminded when getting dressed who they work for and what that represents. Are they excited and motivated to put on their uniform? Does it resonate with what your company stands for?
Quality uniform for quality service
There is without a doubt a correlation between performance and dress. A lazy outfit equals lazy output equals lazy impression. Staff who take pride in their dress sense take pride in their work. Imagine going to the bank to deposit money and you are greeted by an employee in sneakers and a T-shirt, or going into surgery and looking up at the nurses and doctors whilst lying on the operating table and they are in fluro pink singlets and shorts. Would you trust that they are doing their job correctly? Would you go back? Unlikely. An outfit can speak a thousand words and when repeated correctly by each employee, the message to clients and the public is priceless.
Tips & Tricks for a stand out Uniform
- Need Identification: Have a thorough understanding of the who, why when, where. Understanding your company requirements, who is wearing the uniform, why, when it is required and within what budget. The clearer the brief the more fit for purpose the product and service. Ensure your team not only stands out but are happy with the new designs.
- Colour, Fabric and Fit: Talk to the experts and ask for suggestions on the latest fabrics and fits that have been tried and tested in your industry. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel as uniforms need to be fit for purpose and practical and if it works for others it will work for your team. We put a lot of emphasis on colour when designing a uniform ensuring the colours chosen are flattering to all skin tones and body shapes, consistent with branding and stand out in the environment they are being worn in. The colour scheme with a uniform like interiors can make or break the design and take it from great to terrible very quickly.
- Range Planning- Tell the whole story from top to toe. If you spend time creating a look it needs to consider all factors. Will staff need a winter wear option? What trousers are they expected to wear? Is there a requirement for a cap or beanie? There is no point creating a fabulous shirt or polo only to have it covered up by a hot pink jumper which is off-brand and not communicating the consistent story of your brand.
- The Devil is in the Detail – Ensure there is a company uniform policy outlining dress standards. Should the shirt be worn tucked in or out? What type and colour shoes are acceptable? What is the jewellery policy? Unfortunately, common sense isn’t always common and when taking the time to create your team image through uniform it is even more important to follow that through with the detail of how it should or shouldn’t be worn.
Winning business is tougher today than ever before and the company that takes the time to ensure their staff uniform represents the best version of their brand, culture and purpose are more likely to get ahead in sales and performance and be market leaders in their field.
If done correctly a uniform will ensure your team look, feel and act the part and will ensure clients are confident, comfortable and proud to be associated with your brand. What does your uniform look like right now? And what does it say about your brand?
Pamela Jabbour is the founder and CEO of Total Image Group – Uniform designer and manufacturer to some of Australia’s leading brands such as Dan Murphy’s and Fantastic Furniture. With offices in Sydney, Melbourne and China, Total Image dresses over 300,000 Australians per day in their work wardrobe. Find out more at www.totalimagegroup.com.au