Inconsistent branding is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to successfully growing a business and corporate identity. This inconsistency can lead to your clients and target customers misinterpreting what your company does and what it stands for. Such brand confusion can diminish their trust in you to deliver high-quality products or services.
Company uniform is a highly effective way to communicate your brand and offers the opportunity to stand out from the crowd in what is undoubtedly a competitive marketplace. However, if inconsistencies occur within your uniform, or indeed within any form of marketing, it can send the wrong message about your company.
What is brand dilution?
Brand dilution is the weakening of a brand when it is used in a way that detracts from what it has always stood for. The value of your products or services can be impacted if a piece of media fails to meet your customer expectations, or if it simply doesn’t fit in with your brand.
Creating ‘extensions’ of your brand can lead to this brand dilution if not done correctly, as it often means that too many messages are being sent at once. For example, if there are too many variations of the company uniform, then you could lose what the central branding was in the first place, and hence lose out on recognition and trust.
Products that are of poor quality or do not relate back to your brand strategy can blur the brand’s intention, and in this respect, uniform should not be overlooked.
The importance of brand consistency
A lack of consistency within your brand can cause confusion and suggests a level of disorganisation. Crucially, it is a lost opportunity to strengthen your image and become a brand that customers or clients recognise, respect and trust.
Consistently communicating your brand on every platform is an effective way of boosting brand engagement. Psycho-sensory research reveals that most information is communicated through nonverbal or sensory channels, which means that maintaining a strong visual representation of your brand is key, whether that be across signage, literature, social media or uniform.
With a coordinated visual identity, you can successfully build your brand, take more control over brand perception, and manage expectations. This consistency will also allow you to stand out, give your company a personality that people can relate to, reinforce your central goals, and encourage customer loyalty.
The role of uniform in your brand identity
Staff clothing should be considered as part of your central branding strategy. After all, it will be seen across many contexts, potentially outside of company property, and on your key customer-facing colleagues. It plays a key role in presenting who you are as a company and is a chance to get your brand noticed.
This means that incorporating your logo and main brand colours on the uniform is a great choice. If alternative colours are used or the logo is not represented in some way, it can be confusing for customers who are already familiar with your brand. Any visual communication from your company should be consistent when it comes to the logo, images, colour scheme, and typography. Even just sticking to a particular font can be hugely beneficial. People often subconsciously associate companies with their font, meaning that whenever it is used they can instantly recognise who the marketing is coming from.
If you already have a set of brand guidelines, consider whether your uniform adheres to these rules. Of course, in some cases, you may need to create a style guide for those situations where a deviation from the guidelines can’t be avoided. By having this guide, you can ensure that the brand is never misrepresented no matter what platform it’s being used on.
The role of uniform in brand perception
It’s important to remember that a brand is more than just a logo, it’s about how people perceive your company identity and reputation across all platforms. Everything they experience as part of your brand can either help to build a good reputation or, if not executed consistently, can lead to a lack of trust.
To manage brand perception, you should re-evaluate uniform every time there is a change in the branding or corporate message. Ask yourself: Does it still fit in with our brand guidelines? Does it still represent our company accurately? If the answer is no, it may be time to look at updating your uniforms.
When all your staff wear a coordinated uniform, it not only looks professional and organised, but shows the company cares about how the customer perceives the brand. Uniform is a great way to prove that you are doing as much as possible to ensure a good customer experience.
Quality of the uniform
Ensuring you choose quality garments is just as important as keeping the styling consistent with the logo and brand colours. If the quality of the clothing is inconsistent with the quality of the brand, this will dilute the brand. Although it may be tempting to cut corners and go for a fabric of lower quality, for example, it will cost you in damage to your brand.
Style of the uniform
If the style of the uniform is outdated, it may lead people to assume that the company is not moving with the times and hence will not reflect your future goals. For example, as part of Waitrose’s recent rebrand, they updated their uniform and opted for a bold, contemporary style in line with their overall branding strategy.
Encouraging uniform care
Encouraging staff to look after their uniform is as crucial as achieving coordination across the workforce. Everyone should look clean, smart, and in sync with each other for the brand to be communicated at its best.
Choosing uniforms staff will love and allowing them to be a part of the selection process can lead to them respecting the garments more, meaning they will be more likely to take good care of them. Treat staff members as brand ambassadors, as it’s likely their uniform will be seen by the public out of hours. Allowing them to feel like a crucial component in brand consistency and reputation will also create a sense of pride and unity amongst the team.
By having a workforce that takes good care of their uniform you are presenting a professional image, not to mention saving money by extending the life of workwear and avoiding having to purchase new garments regularly.
The colour of garments may fade over time, so it’s best to opt for quality, fade-resistant fabrics. This is particularly important for outdoor workers who are exposed to the sun every day. Any print images on the uniform should always be clean and defined so the logo is still recognisable.
Whilst it’s always good to get the most use out of a garment, it’s also important to recognise when it’s time for uniform to be replaced. If the colour is so faded it no longer appears to be on brand, or there is wear and tear that could be perceived as unprofessional, you should make provision for employees to dispose of uniforms responsibly.
Implementing a uniform policy
Motivating staff to wear company clothing can be challenging. One way to ensure consistency is to have a well thought out uniform policy in place.
Without a policy, you may find employees with the same roles arrive at work in varying levels of formality, which sends a confusing message about your brand. If you would like everyone to be dressed in business casual or smart casual, or you want to enforce a corporate workwear across the board, this can all be communicated within your dress code.
By providing a corporate uniform for your employees you can avoid brand dilution, gain extra exposure, and make staff feel trusted to represent the brand, in turn enhancing their sense of belonging in the workplace.