Trends & Features

Staff uniforms and marketing value

We all have to wear something to work, so it makes a lot of sense to turn that into a marketing opportunity. Giving staff a uniform doesn’t turn them into automatons, instead it can turn them into advertisements for your business. People can be confused about what they should wear to work, so take that issue away.

There is a clear benefit to staff here: as well as not having to decide what to wear, they don’t have to pay for it. I’m aware that some staff balk at the idea of uniform – it’s for school kids. Sorry, chum, this is a sports store and if you’re a team player you have to wear the team strip.

The first benefit of printwear/ workwear as it is properly called is huge: it helps customers to recognise staff on the shop floor. If you don’t think that matters much, boy, are you wrong. A key reason why people leave a shop without buying is, ‘I couldn’t find someone to ask’. That clearly applies all the more to the new customer who doesn’t know your shop and can’t distinguish between staff members and other customers. So pick strong primary colours.

In the same way when they are out on the street, on their way to and from work they are throwing your business name around. I don’t suggest that people will be constantly asking where the store is but it does happen from time to time.

As a general principle, a store where the staff all wear the same colour combination looks smarter, more distinctive than one where that doesn’t apply. Since this is a sports store it also supports the principle of team-working. If you look like a team you are more inclined to act like one and sports enthusiasts like that.

If you become an enthusiast for printwear you could take a leaf out of JD Wetherspoons’ book. When they are promoting particular brands or products the staff wear shirts saying, for instance, ‘ask me for an Old Peculier’. If you go down that route you should get at least part funding from the brand owner.

Especially at the outset your new printwear will offer PR opportunities. Editors of local newspapers love a photograph of a group of young people in bright clothing, especially where it attaches to a positive story about a local business.

That same principle works well if you have, say, a team entered in a local fun run. OK the guy wearing an elephant’s head will be photographed more, but you stand a good chance of some column centimetres. Apply the same thinking to any team activity that your staff are involved in. This may or may not require specialist kit.

So what should your staff printwear actually be? Lucky you! You have a Santa’s sackful of choice. Since you are in the sports trade, there’s an obvious temptation to use sports clothes. I’d resist that because it may not help distinguish staff from customers.

The choice tends to come down to t-shirt, polo shirt or sweatshirt, but I suggest you look at other options as well. What will be a pleasant surprise is the quality and variety available to you, compared to buying the above products on the high street.

Retailers typically sell six or perhaps eight different colours, whereas a printwear supplier can offer you six shades of blue on its own. If you can’t find the colour you want in the shade you like, it’s a funny colour!

You are even more spoiled for choice in fabrics, weights and sizes. You can choose 100% cotton or a range of poly-cotton mixes. The latter are cheaper but the former is the better quality and looks it. Your decision.

From your experience of the high street you may think that all tees, polos and sweatshirts come in a single weight. No they don’t! I could quote figures here but they won’t mean much without picking up the product or better still trying it on. Suffice to say, for each product you can buy a variety of weights. If you keep your premises cool, a heavier weight might have distinct advantages.

Finally in this section comes sizes. I am aware of one supplier whose range goes up to 7XL and several start at XXS. Size is not a problem and having staff in clothes that look and feel right regardless of a person’s size has to be a bonus.

A divisive issue applies to headgear. In general they are not a favoured part of the printwear offering in Britain. This contrasts dramatically with the US, where baseball caps of one style or other are number one choice. Obviously that reflects the two nations’ different sporting enthusiasms.

There are advantages to baseball caps, however. First they are unisex and one size fits all. Each staff member only needs one, maybe two, hats. Customers can see a staff member in a hat from a distance. Still, be conscious that lots of people don’t like wearing them, check with your staff.

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