25/02/2010

By Sue Stedman, Corporate Clothing Limited

The projection of a professional corporate image is a vital consideration for all business owners, regardless of the industry you operate in or the size of your firm. There are many factors that can impact on a company’s visual identity and none more than your customer-facing employees.

The way they present your company will shape a customer’s viewpoint of your business. As a result, it is vitally important that the presentation of your employees matches the ethos you are aiming to project, in both what they are saying and in their general appearance.

The introduction of a corporate uniform or dress code is an ideal consideration for any business owner who is keen to ensure its members of staff are professionally dressed, and in turn project a positive image of the company brand to customers, prospects and suppliers.

An individually-designed corporate uniform impacts on all aspects of a company’s output, simultaneously affecting staff motivation, customer services, internal communications and branding. As such, it is a human resources issue which needs to be managed strategically across all departments and requires extremely sensitive handling.

Choosing an appropriate uniform can however be a challenge. Today, corporate attire needs to be versatile enough to be worn by many different jobs, in different climates and at varying positions within the corporate
hierarchy. So, what do you need to consider?

A uniform should be central to an organisation’s image and must be strongly ingrained in its culture. Choosing garments your staff will want to wear is important too, as it has been found that if staff feel good in what they are
wearing, it is not only motivational, but makes them feel more confident in their role.

A corporate uniform ultimately enables staff to become ambassadors for their company and act accordingly. Invariably because they look smart and feel comfortable they are able to portray a more suitable image. This is particularly important in sales, as sales staff are often the first and final cog in the business development process and so they have a vital role, in first capturing the interest of the potential purchaser, through to finally closing the sale. It is imperative that they feel confident and project a professional image.

The motivational impact of a corporate uniform should not be underestimated. In many cases, the introduction of the uniform itself is a perk for employees, enabling them to dress smartly while saving money on a working wardrobe. A corporate uniform also ensures that clothes are suitable –
footwear is comfortable and clothing is as warm or as cool as necessary.

As with any significant change, the best way to engender enthusiasm is to involve staff in the process, giving them a degree of ownership in the decision. Ideally companies should canvas views during the design stage and undertake ‘wearer trials’ to test whether proposed garments can stand up effectively to the day-to-day rigours of the job, but the limitations of consultation must be understood and the final decision requires senior input.

A uniform or dress code is central to a company’s image and must be strongly ingrained in the culture of the business. Once a uniform or dress code policy has been adopted, it must be enforced to maintain consistency and give the uniform a chance to ‘do its job’. The benefits of a good uniform are far-reaching and shouldn’t be under-estimated.

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