Wearable Messages: When Your Signage Is People

Visual Theory

What your employees wear can be a canvas that says volumes about your brand—make it a great story

You spend a great deal of time thinking about your place of business—how it looks, how it represents your brand, and how to maximize every square inch. But if you’re not paying close attention to what your employees are wearing, you could be missing a big opportunity to reinforce your brand.

“Your employees are there, interacting with your customers every day. What they wear and how they act are important parts of how customers see your brand,” says David E. Johnson, CEO of Strategic Vision PR Group, a branding and public relations agency in Suwanee, Georgia.

That might not mean head-to-toe uniforms, but keep these four points in mind when you’re considering how your employees can best present your brand through what they wear.

1. Decide on your message

In some cases, you may want your employees to wear something that includes your logo, company colors, or other brand elements. In other cases, such as in a high-end restaurant, you may just want them to dress uniformly, but elegantly, so that customers can recognize them when they need them. In some cases, such as clothing stores or retailers who sell branded clothing, you may want the employees to wear what you sell to essentially model it for customers to encourage sales.

“Whichever option you choose, it’s critical that your employees reflect your core brand messages,” he says.

2. Be sure the clothing represents the job

Choosing too-formal outfits or clothing that makes employees uncomfortable when doing their jobs isn’t the way to go, Johnson says. It’s okay to look casual, as long as employees look neat and professional, he says. Branded clothing can also add a sense of security and professionalism. For example, if your employees are going into peoples’ homes, wearing logoed clothing can help reassure customers that the workers are part of your trusted organization.

3. Don’t make them walking billboards

At the same time, Johnson warns that your employees shouldn’t be billboards. If uniforms are overly promotional, it may be a turnoff to customers because you’re being too pushy, he says. Convey your message, but don’t overdo it.

4. Train them properly

Beyond what they wear, what your employees say and how they say it can have a big impact on customers. For example, at Moe’s Southwest Grill restaurants, employees shout an exuberant “Welcome to Moe’s!” when customers walk in the door. At one New Jersey salon, customers are greeted immediately and offered coffee, tea or water while they wait. Training your staff to interact properly with your customers sets the tone for their experience with your business.

Don’t overlook how powerful your employees can be as a marketing tool. Be thoughtful and strategic about how to use their talent and outfits and you can reinforce your brand in important and memorable ways.

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