Despite corporate trends towards dressing more casually, staff uniforms are absolutely critical to certain industry sectors. For business owners, achieving the right look is integral for making your brand stand out in an increasingly competitive market.
When introducing or redesigning existing staff uniforms, there is a long list of issues SMEs need to consider.
But, for even the most fashion-conscious, forward-thinking business owner, bottom line value and cost benefits will almost certainly be top of mind.
“Workplaces are changing at a phenomenal rate, moving from one dominated by structure and convention to a focus on collaboration and flexibility,” said founder and chief executive of Total Image Group (TIG) Pamela Jabbour, a family-run business that designs, sources and manufactures uniforms for leading brands such as Fantastic Furniture and Dan Murphy’s, as well as the Sydney Cricket Ground and Australian Olympic team.
TIG dresses over 300,000 people a day.
“The new workplace is about creating spaces that spark innovation and communication, a focus on team wellness and openness with a mix of full-time, casual and flex hour employees,” said Jabbour.
“The changes are evident in office and store fitouts right down to marketing, uniforms and brand material.
“Companies want to be perceived as being on trend, embracing change and leading their field.
“A company uniform is an integral part of this messaging and ensures companies communicate what they stand for and how they would like to be perceived.”
Of course, a growing awareness of the value of a well-designed uniform is by no means confined to Australian businesses.
Across the Tasman, organisations spanning the New Zealand industry landscape are following suit, from hospitals and food manufacturers to financial services and supermarkets.
Naturally, all business leaders want their staff to be passionate, committed and content, and according to Jabbour, culture has a direct impact on staff engagement and staff engagement has a direct impact on company success.
Engaged employees show greater levels of commitment to the organisation and its ideals, leading to greater outputs and positive results.
“Uniforms are a key piece of the engagement puzzle and play a major role in determining each employee’s sense of pride and satisfaction in their work,” she said.
“A lazy outfit leads to lazy output and poor customer perception.
“Conversely, staff who take pride in their appearance take pride in their work, which positively impacts the customer experience.”
One of TIG’s clients, Endeavour Mutual Bank (EMB), merged with another bank, SCU, on 1 September 2019 and the new entity is pursuing a dual brand strategy.
Linda Edmonds-Colley, executive assistant and human resources at EMB, said all employees will wear the same staff uniform to reflect the new dual branding, meaning that customers of both banks will be able to walk into any EMB or SMB branch and be presented with a single, unified corporate image.
“Greyscale is the common palette across both brands, so this was selected as the colour palette for the range,” said Edmonds-Colley.
“A uniform selection committee was established with a mixed demographic from both organisations.
“The variety offered in the range is extremely broad, while remaining cohesive.”
In terms of the corporate balance sheet, she is confident the dual branding merger strategy will achieve the economies of scale reflected in budget forecasts.
Carefully coordinated staff uniforms reinforce the message created by the brand, marketing and workplace and is one of the least expensive steps in the process to ensure brand image is being correctly and totally presented, Jabbour suggests.
“A new logo, brand or office space without a uniform is like a cake without icing, or an outfit with the wrong shoes,” she said.
“It’s the finishing touch that brings it all together and ensures your company image is complete.”
And that means having a company uniform or dress code could be far more impactful than many people would imagine.
“A well thought out and designed uniform ensures you’re on trend and approachable, that your team stands out from the competition and is perceived as keeping up with the times. You must be successful if you look successful,” said Jabbour.
“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.”