Is your corporate clothing boring?

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Corporate clothing is an important element for any company to consider. The clothing pieces that employees wear put a public face on the company. Any business with a storefront or regular customer contact such as a boutique, bar, or restaurant, should be especially conscious of how the uniforms are impacting business. Here are some signs that can indicate boring uniforms that need a little spicing up:

  • The employees blend into the customers with attire that doesn’t stand out
  • The employees blend into the environment with attire that closely matches the surrounding environment.
  • The attire doesn’t send a clear message about the company

Ideally, good business uniforms will stand out in both the business location itself and the real world as a whole. Employees must be easy to spot at work so customers know who to reach out to. However, really great uniforms also offer a little extra advertising if employees wear them to run errands after work. Bland uniforms can get a little extra kick with some of these suggestions.

Change Things up Often

While an identifiable design will help give a company a clear-cut image, using the exact same uniform year-round can get boring. Consider ordering new polos every quarter to keep things fresh. By including the same logo and basic design on the shirts, these business uniforms can maintain their identity.

Employees can get in on the action of changing things up by suggesting new colors or promotional images for each new line. There are lots of ways that changing up the look of a business uniform can further the image of the company. For example, the polos could depict seasonal colors, promote holiday events, or announce upcoming product launches.

Use Uniforms as a Conversation Starter

Business uniforms that have a casual appearance, such as tee shirts, are ideal for catchy phrases. Try including text that asks a question and gets customers involved directly with employees. Printing half of a joke or a fun trivia question on the shirt will get people talking.

Provide employees with several shirts so they can change things up from time to time or even wear a different shirt each day of the week. Supplying employees with several options in their business uniforms will give them a fun way to customize their business look while also giving customers a reason to come back and see what’s new.

Include Eye-Catching Imagery

Simple polos may be professional, but they’re also boring. Liven up business uniforms with some great imagery that furthers the image of the company. Consider revamping the company logo to design something that’s brighter and more engaging. Add pictures or stylized graphics of major promotional items such as a diner’s special dish or software company’s latest product.

Keep in mind that eye-catching uniforms act as a kind of walking billboard both inside the store and out. Business uniforms can utilize sleek embroidered logos, colorful screen printing, and other customization options for a truly one-of-a-kind look. Uniforms can be customized with aprons and hats as well as traditional shirts for extra impact.

Use Colors Wisely

Neutrals are great for the office, but they’re not interesting for customer contact positions. To keep uniforms from becoming too boring, choose colors that have more impact. Teal will naturally draw the eye and evoke images of tropical escapes while sandy beige is something the eye will just slide past. Go for the brighter choice while still selecting a hue that reflects the company’s style.

While the employee uniforms and store front environment should be coordinated to a certain extent, they shouldn’t use the exact same color scheme. Bright red shirts are great until they’re set amid red shelving or walls. Choose uniforms that will contrast with the environment instead so the staff is always easy to spot.

Using boring employee uniforms is an easy trap to fall into, but it’s also a very easy problem to fix. Order a new stock of brighter, more interesting shirts, hats, and other accessories and the company will be on the way to a brighter future in no time

3 KEY ELEMENTS WHEN PROMOTING WITH PRODUCTS

It’s proven that 84% of people who receive promotional items can identify the advertiser. Granted, 84% is a pretty high percentage, but wouldn’t you rather shoot for 100%? And instead of just being able to identify you, wouldn’t you rather they become a customer?

The best case results scenario for your advertising, marketing, and promotional efforts would be that your brand is synonymous with your product or service  — Vaseline (petroleum jelly), Kleenex (facial tissue), or Speedo (skimpy swim trunks) are a few examples. There are some strategies you can employ to make your promotional items more poignant.

 

Quality

The selection of t-shirts, hoodies, and other apparel has vastly expanded in the last 5 plus years. This wider variety is evident in retail markets and consumers are savvy to the options. Although most people won’t know what the singles count is on their favorite tee, they know what feels good, looks good, and what they like to wear. Most consumers can spot a cheap tee a mile away. When you give away something with your name on it – to people you would like to be your customers – the product speaks about your business and what you have to offer your clients. 

A high quality hoodie may be more than your giveaway budget allows. Instead of giving away cheaper hoodies, be creative and come up with a useful, desirable product that you can supply in good quality. Alternates to a race hoodie may be a water bottle or key pouch.

Relevance

The concept of promotional products working as mobile billboards is most effective when the products actually function in an environment where your potential customers will be active. 
A hoodie might be less effective for an IT profession or computer consultant, for example. A screen cloth to remove prints from computer monitors may be a more appropriate for this industry and would make a great giveaway at any event for technology based industries.

Subtlety

Don’t knock people over the head with your logo. Although you want to make your brand known through promotional items, people are less likely to use a product plastered with your logo, unless they’re already a fan. 

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DO YOUR EMPLOYEES LIKE THEIR CORPORATE T-SHIRTS?

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The words “company t-shirts” can inspire a groan. Employees may imagine themselves being forced to wear something uncomfortable, unappealing or ill-fitting in order to represent their company to the public in a professional way. However, with all the strides being made today in the world of fabric, fit, printing and embroidery, your company t-shirts can be more pleasure than pain.

Are They Comfortable?

By making your company t-shirts comfortable and fit, employees will eventually enjoy and look forward to wearing your business apparel. It may be tempting to go with a fabric such as nylon, but skip that and select cotton for the best wearability and most comfortable choice for employee t-shirts. If you’re scared cotton won’t look as professional, simply choose a nicer style of cotton shirt such as a polo, which looks nicer and is still comfortable and easy to care for, as well as suitable for all weather.

Are They Attractive?

Company t-shirts that your employees helped create can also be a big hit. Consider running a contest for your employees and allow them to create digital logos that can be placed on the shirts, and come up with ideas for colors. Most companies like to stay within the colors that are generally used in their business logo, but there is room for creative license. Designers can turn any logo idea or image into a reality, so the sky is the limit when you’re designing your company t-shirts!

Employees like to feel special instead of just like they are part of the group. Make their company t-shirts stand out by adding some specialized print or embroidery! Print the employee’s name on the front of the shirt for a hint of personalization as well as a sophisticated look to the shirt. A cotton shirt becomes a customized special company shirt created just for that employee! An employee with a custom shirt will be proud to wear it, and most likely enjoy wearing it a little bit more.

Consider making your company shirts even more fun for employees to wear by adding a tagline or quote about your business. This can be printed or embroidered. If your company doesn’t have a specific slogan or tagline, get with your employees to create one! Making your employees feel part of the process by letting them design their company shirts, will ensure they will like and enjoy wearing the final product more so than if they were just given a shirt they had no creative input on.

Do They Fit Well?

Your employees will thank you if you consider their individual body types while choosing and ordering shirts. Ask I Love Private Label for advice on this. A specialized pro will tell you to have your employees measure themselves to ensure a proper custom fit for their company shirts. A shirt that fits will definitely be easier for employees to wear, than a shirt that just doesn’t feel like it fits right or looks good. Get your employee’s measurements and bring them in when you are ready to order your custom t-shirts.

Do They Have Options?

Consider adding extras to your company t-shirts! Matching hats, tote bags or other products can be personalized and customized just as shirts can be; and they add that extra bit of fun to the company t-shirts. A customized cap in a matching color, or a fun tote employees can use to stash their stuff, are cool little add-ons to the idea of a custom company shirt. Talk with a professional screen printer about what options are available for customization that could boost company morale even more than fabulous company t-shirts!

If you’re not sure how your employees feel about their company t-shirts, just ask them! Send out a survey before you order the shirts and ask your employees what they would like to see in their custom apparel. Ask them questions such as, what materials do you like best? Get their input on the shirts since they will be the ones to wear them. Then, you can make a final decision before shirts are ordered to ensure that wearing their shirts will be a fun experience for everyone, instead of one they dread!

Your company shirts should reflect the best of your company and your employees.

5 ECO-CONSCIOUS TIPS TO FOLLOW WHEN CARING FOR YOUR APPAREL

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Growing consciousness surrounding the health of our planet and ourselves has had an obvious impact on the fashion and apparel industry.Organic cotton, wool, silk, and hemp are all readily available for garment manufacturing, as well as material made from sustainable sources such as bamboo, soy, tencel, and POP recycled plastic. The custom decoration industry has naturally followed suit by offering these same materials in the form of t-shirts, polos, totes, and other apparel items for screen printing and embroidery.

Screen printing or embroidering on sustainable and organic fabrics is just the start. Custom apparel companies are refining their products and processes. For example, plastisol Pantone® matching ink systems that are phthalate free have replaced the inks that were laden with potentially harmful plastics. Creative re-purposing and re-cycling of misprinted garments is another way to eliminate the senseless wasting of perfectly good apparel and keeping them out of landfills.

Eco-consciousness with apparel doesn’t have to end with the purchase of a thoughtfully produced garment. In fact, a large part of a garment’s impact on the environment comes from washing and drying, so it’s important that we keep a green mind as we care for the apparel.

1. Wear it More Than Once Before Washing

Perhaps not undies or socks 😉 but most clothes can stand a couple or few wearings before necessarily needing a wash. Jeans in a freezer overnight can lessen a smoky club smell and a quick once over with an iron can freshen up just about anything. (Don’t iron over your screen print, though!)

2. Trade Your Machine Up

Switching to an Energy-Star rated washer can save as much as 30.000 liters of water a year! To put it in perspective, that a lifetime of drinking water for 6 people. Wow.

3. Green Detergent for Green Clothes

Phosphates can lead to algal blooms that damage marine eco-systems. This can be combatted by using plant-based detergents as they are phosphate free. White vinegar in the rinse cycle can be used instead of chemical softeners. The acid in the vinegar neutralizes basic detergents which helps get the soap out of clothes.

4. Heck…Make Your Own Detergent

Homemade laundry soap can be made from ingredients found at your local grocery store. You can even create your own soap scent from your favorite smelling essential oils. Here are some recipes and tips.(in Dutch only!)

5. Be Efficient

Wash on the cold cycle. Only wash full loads. If you have to wash a partial load, remember to switch the load size to small. Air dry clothes whenever possible.

If every person takes a little step, collectively we make great leaps. We’re really looking at a huge difference we can make in something so small, like how and how often we wash clothes.

Waarom duurzaam ondernemen loont? 4 belangrijke redenen:

1. De klant wil het

Volgens onderzoek van reclamebureau Havas vindt 73 procent van de consumenten dat grote bedrijven een actieve rol moeten spelen in positieve maatschappelijke veranderingen. Dat ondernemingen geld verdienen aan zo’n sociale functie, vinden consumenten steeds vanzelfsprekender. In 2008 gaf 57 procent van de respondenten aan hier geen probleem mee te hebben; in 2012 was dat al 76 procent.

Klanten vinden duurzaamheid over het algemeen een belangrijk argument bij de keuzes die ze maken. Bij aankoopmomenten nam dat belang de laatste jaren, waarschijnlijk door de crisis, iets af (volgens onderzoek van DDB en Intomart, 2012). Tenzij groen samengaat met kostenbesparing; dan is het voor veel mensen wel weer doorslaggevend. Voor een verantwoord merk betaalt 40 procent van de klanten graag iets meer. Ook goed nieuws: het aantal consumenten dat belang hecht aan duurzaamheid, neemt nog altijd toe.

2. Aandeelhouderswaarde stijgt

In 2011 publiceerde Harvard University de resultaten van een meerjarig onderzoek naar de impact van een MVO-strategie op de koers van de bedrijfsaandelen. Daarvoor werden over een periode van 18 jaar de resultaten van 90 duurzame en 90 weinig duurzame bedrijven onder de loep genomen. De duurzame bedrijven hadden in die periode 4,8 procent beter gepresteerd op de beurs. Ook in Nederland doen bedrijven met een actieve MVO-strategie het beter op de beurs. De tien best scorende AEX-bedrijven op het gebied van duurzaamheid behaalden over de afgelopen drie jaar een gemiddelde koersstijging van 46,2 procent, tegenover 10,2 procent koersstijging van de tien ondernemingen die het laagst presteerden. De winstgevendheid van maatschappelijk verantwoorde activiteiten hangt echter wel sterk samen met de mate waarin MVO door de Raad van Bestuur belangrijk wordt gevonden, blijkt uit onderzoek van MIT Sloan Management Review en de Boston Consulting Group. Waar duurzaamheid een prominente plaats heeft, maakt 60 procent er ook daadwerkelijk winst op. Bij bedrijven waar dat niet het geval is, is dat 18 procent.

3. Werknemers zijn productiever

Voor de positie van een bedrijf in de arbeidsmarkt heeft MVO louter positieve effecten. Uit het jaarlijkse Beste Werkgeversonderzoek van Effectory en VNU Media onder Nederlandse werknemers, bleek in 2012 dat organisaties die hoog scoorden op MVO, het op alle andere onderdelen ook goed deden. In 2010 ondervond onderzoek- en adviesbureau Intelligence Group dat 18 procent van de mannen en 17 procent van de vrouwen niet wil werken voor een werkgever zonder MVO-beleid. Daarnaast wees onderzoek van het Britse Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility uit dat medewerkers die vinden dat hun bedrijf voldoende aandacht besteedt aan milieubescherming en duurzame ontwikkeling, een veel grotere betrokken-heid tonen dan werknemers die van mening zijn dat hun werkgever daarin tekortschiet. En dat resulteert weer in een hogere productiviteit, zo constateerde de website sustainablebrands.com. Bij firma’s die daarnaast milieustandaarden (als bijvoorbeeld ISO14001) daadwerkelijk invoeren, is de productiviteit zelfs 16 tot 21 procent hoger.

4. Het verbeterd uw imago

Het Amerikaanse Reputation Institute deed in 2010 onderzoek naar de invloed van MVO op de reputatie van bedrijven. Daarvoor hielden ze de 200 grootste Amerikaanse ondernemingen tegen het licht. 65 procent van de respondenten gaf aan de top 20 duurzaamste  bedrijven zeker aan anderen aan te bevelen. Dit terwijl de 20 minst duurzame bedrijven slechts door 26 procent zou worden gepromoot.

In Nederland onderzocht TNS NIPO in opdracht van Milieucentraal in hoeverre Nederlanders belang hechten aan de groene reputatie van bedrijven. 20 procent van de Nederlanders blijkt bij een aankoop expliciet op duurzaamheidskenmerken te letten. 40 procent heeft meer vertrouwen in een product als er een keurmerk voor duurzaamheid op staat. Daarnaast is 25 procent bereid er meer voor te betalen.

Can fashion companies use technology to connect with supply chain workers?

Companies using new tools to give under-represented workers a voice

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Garment workers protest

Can technology help connect with garment workers or does legitimate fear make plausibility of participation questionable?
One can only wonder how best to gauge the ethics and worker safety behind our garment-manufacturing industry. The goliath that the fashion industry has become begs the question whether it’s even possible to ensure suppliers do the right thing.

Many of the Rana Plaza workers feared they would lose their jobs if they didn’t go to work at the unsafe factory building. This idea of relying on poorly paid workers, who risk death to be paid little more than minimum wage, brings up the elephant in the room: when people need to survive, they’ll do whatever they have to do.

Online auditing tools such as Intertek’s Tradegood flips the tables a bit and provides buyers with access to comprehensive information about participating suppliers, including company profiles, quality compliance and reputational risk issues associated with social, environmental and security programmes.

Some companies such as M&S and Patagonia are willing to try supply chain tools, such as non-profit social enterprise Labor Link, designed to help give typically under-represented garment workers a voice. According to M&S, Labor Link leverages “4.5bn mobile subscriptions in the developing world to connect the workers that produce our food, clothing, and electronics with the companies that buy them.”

M&S has announced it will use Labor Link’s mobile technology to gather feedback directly from 22,500 workers in its clothing supply chains in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as part of a new deal it has signed with Good World Solutions a social enterprise technology provider. Four surveys are planned a year with no cost to workers using the technology, and a minimal cost for Marks & Spencer suppliers to receive the summary data.

Fiona Sadler, head of ethical sourcing at M&S, said: “This is a breakthrough for us and moves workplace communication into the digital era. It’s not about checking up on our suppliers; it’s about making sure we’re doing the right things for the workers in our supply chain and giving them a voice.”

Can technology effect change?

According to Ineke Zeldenrust, international co-ordinator for the Clean Clothes Campaign (Schone kleren campagne), which focuses on improving working conditions and supporting the empowerment of garment workers, tools such as Labor Link are worthwhile when used in collaboration with credible groups who can ensure workers have an individual voice.

The Clean Clothes Campaign relies more on grassroots advocacy to petition and force the hands of companies to sign legally binding contracts for worker’s rights. With an alliance of organisations in 15 European countries, including trade unions and NGOs, the Clean Clothes Campaign is a force to be reckoned with.

“We would ask if these initiatives are developed by the companies alone or together with credible local labour groups and trade unions, as they are the ones directly in touch with the workers or representing them and need to be part of such programmes to make sure they work,” says Zeldenrust.

In addition to creating binding contracts like the Bangladesh Safety Accord, Zeldenrust says workers should also have the right to freely organise themselves into democratic trade unions. “Brands should make every effort to ensure that governments in countries where they operate end repression and reform their laws and, of course, ensure that within their own supply chains, the right to organise and to bargain are protected,” says Zeldenrust.

Anthony Lilore, a design and production process consultant in Manhattan, serves on the board of Save the Garment Center, a campaign to keep New York as the fashion capital of the world. Lilore is concerned that the likelihood of workers using the technology to better their lives is questionable and many maybe too afraid of reprisals to use it. Although companies are starting to take the issue seriously: “Fortunately, fear and embarrassment as they relate to impact on the bottom line at the corporate level are good motivators, so some companies will work toward doing the right thing. Any effort is better than no effort regardless of motive,” says Lilore.

Lilore says when it comes to something grassroots like unionised shops, it’s a very delicate matter as “self-policing” is a double-edged sword. He says that although he believes unions can work with small-scale designers who are aware of their supply chains, working with more mainstream brands with larger supply chains, has become too multi-faceted and branched for any one union to handle.

Erica Wolf, director of special projects for Nanette Lepore, says she agrees with Lilore in principle: “Anything with anonymity will work better than anything with transparency in terms of who is providing the data and making any complaints.

“It’s a good thing that these issues are even being addressed and I think the ‘perfect’ solution will take years to come.”

With yet another garment factory fire a few months ago, killing at least 10 people inside the Aswad Composite Mills factory in Gazipur, 25 miles from Dhaka – any gains that can be made with supply chain checks are worth it.