Uniforms as Marketing? The brand messaging of staff clothing

Even though marketing is a creative industry, we can sometimes be a little closed-minded when it comes to considering exactly what marketing can constitute. Whilst we take for granted all the new facets of marketing and advertising that the 21st century has thrown at us, sometimes going back to the core principles of marketing as communication with the consumer can throw up some interesting new approaches.

Many experts in marketing and branding in particular, will be keen to point out that branding doesn’t simply cover marketing materials, company logos and colour schemes and packaging design. The brand of a company is the culture of the company, and this has to run through everything the company does. This is something that large international names such as Nokia take very seriously.

In this vein of though, a lot of establishments, particularly in the catering and hospitality sectors, invest a great deal of time considering the presentation of staff and what this communicates about the company and brand. This is of great importance in catering and food services in particular, where the reputation of the cleanliness of an establishment is deduced from the appearance of staff. There is an old adage about restaurants that you need to look at how clean the bathroom is to learn about the standard of hygiene throughout the business. The same is true of the appearance of staff. Get this wrong and you’ll put potential customers off eating at your restaurant or staying at your hotel.

So maintaining good standards of presentation is an important place to start when considering the message you’re giving to customers, but the opportunity to communicate your brand through the presentation of staff doesn’t end there. Again, to use an example from the hospitality sector, if you’re running a hotel, considering where the brand of that hotel sits amongst its competitors. Is it a casual modern hotel, is it boutique, is it a corporate hotel with a lot of business and conference guests? Is the hotel traditional? The uniforms of the staff ought to reflect these choices. What is the colour scheme and can your staff uniforms match the scheme? Do your concierge staff wear traditional waistcoats, double breasted suit jackets and pleated trousers or more modern fitting slim suits and flat front trousers? Are your bar staff in shirts and aprons or in branded polo shirts? These are all possibilities to be considered, and everything your staff wear will reflect on your business. As such, many suppliers of uniforms for hotels and restaurants will reflect this variation in what different establishments require from their uniforms. The same principles of marketing and communicating your brand through the stylistic choices you make in your staff’s work wear.

So whilst there may be a great deal of value in looking closely at online marketing materials and channels, social media, viral videos and screen advertising, let’s not forget that one of the key impressions that is made on our customers and potential consumers comes from the staff they deal with, which are the point of contact with the business. Shouldn’t this also be the territory of marketeers and branding experts and not just human resources?