The Image GroupThe Image Group

By Adam Norman

8 Tips to Make Your Employee Uniform Program a Success

In May, Delta Airlines unveiled redesigned uniforms for 64,000 employees at a reported cost of $20 million. The new purple uniforms were designed by fashion designer Zac Posen over three years.

Why would a company like Delta, with its classic signature red, white, and blue uniforms, make such a sizeable investment?

One of the things that we talk to our employees and customers about is our uniforms, while they’re very traditional, very professional, don’t stand out. They couldn’t identify the Delta uniforms from the other competitors because they all kind of were in the mix,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian.

This rule applies to any brand. The Image Group works with clients large and small. Many of them have inconsistent uniform programs with different logos, colors, and fabrics. Think about how many decisions are microanalyzed in your business. What your team wears to work every day deserves your attention and perhaps, as Delta decided, more investment.

Here are the 8 things that will help you design a great uniform program:

1. Sweat the details

Color options vary, and some are only guaranteed to be available for a few years. You can consider custom colors and designs too. Zac Posen created a new color for the Delta uniforms called “Passport Plum.” Finally, make sure that your team is thinking about the logo. Will it be embroidered in full-color or one-color? Is there a better option than embroidery? We recommend designating a team member to think through these choices. Because of our experience and depth in this area, we evaluate all the options and consider them with the other important rules below.

2. Size matters

Many uniform models don’t include big and tall sizes, and require you to make accommodations. Your team may need to address this.

3. Staff involvement saves headaches

It’s helpful to gather opinions through field testing. Consider employee focus groups and field testing different options. Gathering employee opinions reduces friction when you ask everyone to adopt the new program.  We know how to run this process.

4. Consider production time and inventory requirements

We can help you design a program that minimizes organizational strain.  Here are some options: (i) small quantities produced on demand, (ii) large quantities produced and fulfilled through an inventory program, and (iii) medium-size quantities produced and delivered on pre-determined dates.  Each model has pros and cons.  Web ordering platforms are also an important consideration.

5. Think about the comfort

Comfortable employees are happy employees. The best fabric for Houston may be the worst for Boston. We’ll develop recommendations with you. We also have experience with state regulatory requirements, which may affect how a uniform is laundered.

6. Gather data

We recommend completing an audit of all existing apparel pieces. This saves time in the long-run and prevents an oversight. We can help develop questions and/or analyze the results to make recommendations.

7. Review your competition

What do stakeholders see from your competition? You should be better. Also, is there a well-known brand in your market? If so, stay away from its colors.

8. Think about uniforms like a designer

Many of our clients make the mistake of taking a one-dimensional approach to uniforms. We believe uniforms are part of designing your brand experience and your employee experience. Here are a few more questions to think about. How will the uniform look in your operating locations?  How will the uniform look in combination with the name badge? What additional apparel items will you be providing as part of employee recognition initiatives?

Written by Zack Ottenstein, Director of Senior Living and Hospitality.

Need help creating a uniform program for your employees? Contact us at The Image Group at
8 Tips to Make Your Employee Uniform Program a Success