Picture the scene. Venice. Cocktail hour. A devastatingly handsome man sits at a bar and orders himself a vodka martini, shaken, not stirred. In the background a gang of deadly assailants wait to escort him to a cliff-top lair. The man, sensing their presence, needs his weapon, he reaches into the pocket of his…..tatty old anorak? Hold it. Something is definitely wrong here. Unmistakable Bond, but, without the slick, black dinner jacket, it’s just not the same.
That’s because to us, the viewer, the sharp suits are part of the Bond brand – just like Elton John’s glasses, or Mary Poppins’ umbrella. The same is true of the clothing worn by the staff in your organisation. Whether that’s a sharp suit or a boilersuit! As long as these people are representing your brand, you want them dressed appropriately, and that doesn’t mean ripped, stained or faded clothes of any kind.
After all, why bother to update the reception of your car showroom with a glossy new desk and chair set if the mechanics walking in and out with your customers’ keys are wearing nasty old overalls with the pockets hanging off?
Here are my tips for getting corporate clothing right and for using it to reinforce your brand.
1) Set a dress code. Whether it’s formal wear that your employees chose themselves or a uniform. Be clear about what you expect them to wear and what you won’t accept.
2) If you want to update your uniform, ask staff to be involved in choosing the new look. There’s a huge array of choice available. For example, waiting staff could wear a shirt and tie with a long apron, a simple polo shirt, or even a crisp cotton t-shirt with a funky slogan. Give them the chance to be involved in the final decision and they are far more likely to wear it with pride.
3) Make sure that when you buy any corporate clothing it’s the best quality that you can afford. If you want staff to wear your beautiful professionally embroidered polo-shirts every day for the next two years, they need to be able to stand up to regular washing and the tumble drier. Ask your supplier to give you samples of whatever you want to order so you can examine the quality thoroughly. Make sure the item looks and feels good when it’s worn by a normal human being, not just a catalogue model.
4) If you want something that’s not in the catalogue, discuss it with your clothing provider. We recently hand-dyed a set of shirts for one of our customers in a beautiful lavender blue. It wasn’t one of our standard colours, but it was the colour of their logo so we matched the shirts to their selected pantone shade. Anything is possible.
5) Finally, consider the details. Even if you aren’t going to go with a corporate uniform, you can still get your brand ‘walking about’ in your office and outside. Especially if you have a mobile sales force. How about providing them with cosy fleeces, ties or umbrellas displaying your logo? If they take these to their business meetings they’ll be representing you wherever they go.
Share your top tips for getting dressed for success?