August 7, 2018 • digitalmedia • Uniforms • Comments Off on Using Uniforms as an Effective Marketing Tool
Why are uniforms such an effective marketing tool? They provide a tangible interface with your company’s values like no other marketing channel can. Because they are worn by the employees who are living out your mission day to day, uniforms associate your brand with the crucial values your staff work to create: customer service and loyalty, relationship-building, and company credibility. Uniforms set customers up to expect great service, and great service connects your brand with a customer’s mind. This creates a circuit, a feedback loop, of marketing power.
Uniforms impact your brand effectively because they express certain virtues, creating an impression on those who see them, and on those who wear them.
Unity – Humans have used uniforms for thousands of years to build unity in a group. Armies and sports teams wear them to provide a unified front, both to those who view them and within their own ranks. While professional uniforms are designed to appeal to viewers, not intimidate them, they still create a feeling of togetherness within your “ranks.” Customers who see a branded uniform are more likely to feel confident that your brand, to a person, is about its business.
Teamwork – Within your team, you know how important it is to work toward a common goal. Comfortable, sharp, and attractive uniforms build camaraderie by visually signaling that all of your employees belong to the group, and are working as one. Uniforms can also have an equalizing effect. Even if you indicate various positions through color-coding or other differentiation, uniforms require employees to set aside their personal wardrobe preferences and embrace the role of a team player. When everyone embraces that role, it subconsciously increases the desire to be a team player in other ways.
Professionalism – Customers need to feel confident from the first interaction with you that your company is going to do its job, that you’re serious about your work, that you know what you’re about, and that you’re staffed with knowledgeable and well-trained personnel. Uniforms signal professionalism and competence. For this reason, uniforms are also a potent solution for building or rebuilding brand credibility. Customers receive the message: “This brand cares to make an effort. This brand is trustworthy.”
With these virtues, uniforms can strongly incline both customers and employees toward your company and your brand.
To properly support and drive your marketing or re-branding strategy, design and choose your uniforms with these goals in mind:
Pride – Uniforms are the place where your brand is directly serving your customer base. Your customers cannot get a more direct interaction with your brand than face-to-face contact with a person. So the first thing you need to be sure of is that your brand representatives can wear their uniforms proudly. Consistently disgruntled attitudes about a uniform may be a sign that you need to hear from your employees about how their uniforms could be more comfortable, attractive, easy to wash or replace, or otherwise meet their needs.
Clarity – Customers need to be one-hundred percent clear about what they’re seeing. If uniforms cause confusion, you have forfeited their positive branding effect. Uniforms need to be tidy and visually integrated, without a lot of bells and whistles. They need to fit your employees well. If you integrate a logo, embroidery, or name tags onto your uniforms, they must be easy to read. Finally, uniforms need to distinguish your employees. They need to make your employees clearly recognizable from non-employees. They can also distinguish employees in certain roles—for example, management from non-management, or nurses from PAs. This is a crucial form of customer service.
Identity – Uniforms express your brand’s identity, using colors, design, stitching, logos, and embroidery to create your desired effect. What do you need to strengthen in your marketing strategy? If you want to emphasize your longevity, you might weave your history into your uniforms; for example, incorporating elements of your original logo or original uniform style. If you’re re-branding for a younger constituency, your ideal look might be modern and casual. If you’re establishing a hospital uniform program, you need a color scheme that indicates comfort, or a design to indicate efficiency. If you’re striving to build your brand’s authenticity with customers, you might consider keeping your logo minimalist and using warm colors. When expressing brand, there are many options to explore.
Invitation – At its best, a uniform is an invitation to interact—with your people, and with your brand. Some uniforms can be alienating: confusing, inappropriate for the context, unpleasant in color, harsh, or distracting. Ask yourself: does my uniform invite customers into the kind of interactions needed to build my brand? A logo or email campaign can do a lot of work, but it can’t reach out for a handshake, assist with a wheelchair, or begin conversation. Strive to make your uniforms inviting, and invite the kind of in-person interactions you wish to encourage. If your team is highly task-oriented, such as a construction crew, for example, uniforms can invite admiration of a job well-done, even from a distance. On the other hand, if your team is focusing on patient care, or other extremely personal work, uniforms can help cultivate and enable dozens of positive, up-close and personal interactions a day. For example, small uniform details might be more important here, as well as texture and associations between color and emotion.
Uniform programs affect brand awareness, loyalty, and effectiveness. By implementing a well-designed uniform program, you are launching your most audience-facing marketing tool and setting yourself up for success.
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