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The power of uniforms in marketing

The way we dress is a significant trigger to how we may perform and how we are perceived in terms of professionalism and trustworthiness. Those who look and feel ‘the business’ are more likely to perform well, be given more credibility and be more attractive to prospective customers.

Given this link between the image we project to our customers and the likelihood of them making a purchase, uniforms and workwear have become a responsibility and focal point for marketing teams across all manner of business sectors. 

Alongside the refreshed look a new uniform can create for a business is a basic need for practicality and safety – to have a newly-designed uniform that is entirely unfit for purpose is the very definition of a pointless exercise.

These differing requirements of a uniform bring with them a need for collaboration. It may be necessary to include not only marketing team members, who will ensure that the design is consistent with the company’s branding, but also other functions within the business such as HR, health and safety and, of course, the eventual wearer of the uniform, to ensure the design is fit for purpose and conforms to legislative requirements. 

In many cases, companies are employing in-house focus groups, which allow time for all views to be aired and a considered decision to be made on the final design.  Pragmatic approaches of this nature have helped fuel a uniform evolution in recent years and produce products that are much more practically suited to the daily duties of the wearer, whilst providing comfort and projecting the overall company image. A good example of this transition is the development of the police uniform from the starched and sturdy uniforms of the past, to the current practical and fully functional design that is now part of the modern uniform.

The importance of using uniforms as a marketing tool for a business has undoubtedly led to a focus on branding and imagery.  The wider availability of branded workwear, such as Helly Hansen, Black Rock and CAT, is one tool newly available to marketers to help boost image, improve customer perceptions and also make employees feel more like part of a team.  A recent survey of 13,000 workers across a range of business sectors in the UK by Alexandra, revealed that more than 90 per cent argued that what a person is wearing determines how professional and trustworthy they look, while almost 40 per cent said ‘scruffy clothing’ in the work environment impacted performance. Some 62 per cent felt that wearing formal wear or a uniform made them feel part of a team and 60 per cent were more focussed in their job.  

Change does cost, but refreshing the image of your business by updating or implementing a uniform can be an investment that will ultimately reap both financial and performance benefits. 

Nick Acaster is Marketing Director at Alexandra Workwear