What Telstra’s new uniforms show us about the power of branding

First came the logo, then, the uniform.

A week ago, Telstra introduced its new uniforms, designed by fashion company Ginger & Smart. The uniforms sport the bright colours used in Telstra’s current marketing campaign.

They’ve replaced the company’s older, more demure uniforms, (last revamped in 2005) made up of stereotypical corporate attire (white shirts, dark pants) with the company logo on the collar and near the hip pocket. The uniforms will be used by Telstra’s store staff, as well as its field staff (such as engineers). Telstra employs about 39,000 employees.

Mark Buckmann, Telstra’s chief marketing officer, told The Australian the introduction of the uniforms had already altered perceptions of the brand. “If you walk into a Telstra store, you get a sense of vibrancy and that is continued with the people,” he said. “We want the staff to feel really proud of what they are wearing.”

Many of Australia’s largest companies, especially in retail, have uniforms for staff, says Simon Rowell, managing director of Brand Intellect. “Telstra is putting this across the whole business, which is less usual.”

Uniforms can be very useful for branding purposes, “especially if it reflects the personality of the brand, and are consistent across the organisation and distinctive”, Rowell says.

Uniforms can drive home to staff that they are at work and representing the brand, and so serve to strengthen the brand.

For this reason, uniforms are most common in customer-facing roles, and are less common in corporate white-collar occupations.

But there can be benefits even in white-collar environments, says Martin Nally, the managing director of human resource services firm hranywhere.


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