How Uniforms Have Changed and What you Need to do to Stay on Trend


How Uniforms Have Changed and What you Need to do to Stay on Trend

What is your team wearing and what is that saying about your brand? First impressions count and dressing well is one of the few opportunities you have, to really stand out in the crowd. Customers will form their opinion on the quality of the product or service you are offering based on the first interaction with your team. Team members wake up each day and are reminded when getting dressed who they work for and what that represents. Are they excited and motivated to put on their uniform? Does it resonate with what your company stands for? 

As a Franchisee, you may be wondering how this impacts you? Technically you’re part of a bigger brand and it is their responsibility to market the brand. Right?

Not necessarily! Uniforms and a strong brand identity are equally, if not more important in a franchise environment then any other. As a Franchisee you are a part of a larger community of business owners representing that brand and the power or impact that brand has on the market. The clarity and consistency that brand has across all its locations and the power of the brand message is down to the support of each individual Franchisee. If each franchisee coordinates their own uniform and doesn’t follow the brand recommendation, there is the risk of diluting the power of the brand and membership you are technically paying to be a part of.

Over the last 13 years I have worked with clients with as little as 100 employees to as big as 100,000 employees and retail brands specifically franchise-based form a large part of our portfolio. We get enlisted to work with head office on the design and implementation of the uniform and often put together a franchisee specific campaign to ensure the broader group is involved and engaged with the uniform change and process. Over this time, I have seen what works, what doesn’t and have had a range of experiences with clients when it comes to design and implementation, it never ceases to amaze me the two opposite sides of the spectrum and how this can make or break your company uniform design and launch.

Franchisee’s that are disconnected from their company purpose and objective, are purely price driven rather than process or quality driven. The affect is that they don’t think through the details often end up with an ill-fitting uniform that not only looks poorly but results in an unenthused team. This exercise ends up being far costlier as it results in negative team culture, attitude and damaging to the brand you are paying to be involved with.

A great franchise uniform reflects the changing market, exudes confidence, has a contemporary feel and inspires employees. Like any element of brand and marketing, a uniform design and implementation needs to be well thought out and planned.  Whilst head office may control the marketing and setup of the brand, your engagement and involvement with uniforms is essential to ensure its success.

If you are unhappy with the current uniform offering available, offer to lead the review process and share your feedback with head office. Having franchisee’s who are passionate about the uniform on a design and practicality front is essential in ensuring success. As a uniform provider we often visit stores and speak to the employees and franchisee’s around their current uniform, specifically the pro’s, con’s and what they would like to see different. After all, these are the team members on the ground and offer the most valuable insights to ensure a fashion forward, fit for purpose look for the brand.

Whilst price and practicality are important there are several do’s and don’ts I recommend when reviewing a Franchise uniform design and implementation: 

The Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to uniform design and implementation:

  • Do take the time to engage the franchise network and ask for feedback about what they would like to see
  • Do your homework and have a thorough understanding of the who, why when, where. The clearer the brief, the more fit for purpose the product and service
  • Do ensure marketing and HR requirements are considered when preparing your brief for the new supplier
  • Do insist your brand personality is communicated through the uniform
  • Do your homework on previous uniforms in your business- what has worked, what hasn’t and share your insights with your supplier
  • Do make sure the uniform design caters to your demographic. Know your team- male/female ratio, average age, any culture considerations!
  • Don’t try and be a designer and leave the designing to an expert
  • Don’t ask a brand agency to design the uniform unless they have a uniform side to the business.
  • Don’t think cheap and drive the project on cost only- you get what you pay for
  • Don’t form a uniform committee with over 5 people. The more people involved the harder it is to conclude
  • Don’t try and please everybody- It is impossible
  • Don’t get more than 3 quotes- the more designs and product you see the more confusing it can be

An outfit can speak a thousand words and when repeated correctly by each employee across every franchise the message to clients and the public is priceless. The company that takes the time to ensure their staff uniform represents the best version of their brand, culture and purpose are more likely to get ahead in sales and performance and be market leaders in their field.

PAMELA JABBOUR is the founder and CEO of Total Image Group, which designs, sources and manufactures leading edge, quality uniforms for companies across Australia. With offices in Sydney, Melbourne and China, they dress over 250 000 workers a day, with clients including 13CABS and the Australian Olympic Team and officials. For more information visit Total Image Group