By Pamela Jabbour.
We’re a culture based on first impressions and, in a market that’s more competitive than ever, it’s important to make your brand stand out in the crowd. Leading franchises ensure their environment, team, marketing and messaging are consistent, and that all elements to do with their brand are a clear representation of the ethos or culture of the company. Staff uniforms are a large part of this messaging, given they are the first impression the consumer has of the brand, yet they are often overlooked.
McDonald’s unveiled new uniforms for its employees in April this year and while there has been both positive and negative feedback on the new design, more than 850,000 employees began wearing the new uniform at all McDonald’s 14,000 restaurants in the US within a month of the launch. The sheer volume and commitment required to execute this launch showed the company’s dedication to brand, messaging and consistency and the impact this uniform overhaul would have in their market.
Uniforms reinforce the message your brand sends out to the market and ensures your team reflects the quality of product, level of service and experience that can be expected when interacting with your franchise. And yet so many brands spend little or no time thinking about what their company uniform looks like and what message this is sending out to the market. Is this causing lost sales?
A uniform refresh ensures you’re on-trend and approachable, that your team stands out from the competition and is perceived as keeping up with the times. Considering many companies spend little time thinking about their uniform and its impact on branding, this refresh can provide an immediate point of difference. Simply put, it’s a cost-effective marketing strategy to ensure your brand and team stand out. When considering a refresh, consider these keys to ensuring that you stand out:
Need identification: Have a thorough understanding of the who, why when and where. Understand 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 is happy with the new designs.
Colour, fabric and fit: Get 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. Ensure 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 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 allow for 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 that is off-brand and not communicating the consistent story of your brand.
tThe devil is in the detail: Ensure a company-uniform policy outlines dress standards. Should the shirt be worn tucked in not? What type and colour of 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’s even more important to follow that through with the detail of how it should or shouldn’t be worn.
A carefully coordinated uniform reinforces the message created with the brand, marketing and work space and is one of the least expensive steps in the process to ensure brand image is being correctly and totally presented. A new logo, brand or office space without a uniform is like a cake without icing, or an outfit with the wrong shoes. It’s the finishing touch that brings it all together and ensures your company image is complete. Think about your current uniform and what it says about your brand. Is it in line with your current positioning? If not, it might be time for a refresh before the market changes first.
Pamela Jabbour is the founder and CEO of Total Image Group, which designs, sources and manufactures leading-edge, quality uniforms for companies across Australia. With offices in Sydney, Melbourne and China, TIG dresses more than 250 000 workers a day, with clients including 13CABS and the Australian Olympic team and officials. For more information, visit Total Image Group.