Thursday, June 11, 2020

Is a Corporate Style Policy Still Relevant?

In this new age of work from home and Zoom online meetings, is a dress policy for employees relevant? Most people in the workplace would balk at the idea of being told what to wear, but whether you are an employer or employee, you no doubt agree with me that professionalism never goes out of style.

When it comes to online there is a tendency to be more relaxed, however a presenter, boss or whoever is leading the meeting should still be dressed smartly – even it is from the waist up! And attendees – eyes are on you too. Or should be.

If you are a participant, it is a courtesy to have your camera turned on and be present at the meeting. That means putting in some effort to your appearance and dress. After all it is “work”.

It is a new world of working but there will always times when you or your employees are meeting clients. And that’s where I often come in as an advisor on corporate image and wardrobe for professionals.

On one occasion I was given a brief by a very large financial services organisation. They wanted to address the problem of “too casual” saying that skimpy, shoe-string strap tops and wearing thongs to work were quite normal. How could they fix that?

I’ve also been asked the question of the appropriateness of wearing Ugg boots to work. Really? Bond movie actor Monica Bellucci apparently refused the offer of Ugg boots to wear in her film trailer preferring to wear sky high Louboutin heels.

Belluci has a glamorous, movie star personal brand image to maintain and one way to demonstrate and maintain that is through her visual appearance. So too with your own personal brand or business brand. In your role if you want to be seen as a leader you need to look like one. Your clothes and appearance really are the external image of your brand.

What brand image are you projecting and if you are an employer, small business or large, do you have a definitive dress code policy for employees? And does it really matter in this era of, “dress for your day”, dress code policy?

Business dressing has become more relaxed over the past years. Long gone are the days of very formal, pin striped suiting. The majority of business people wear smart, business casual and try to appear more approachable to their client base. Which is fine if you have young, trendy staff and that is your client base. What if you have young trendy staff and your client base is much older and formal?

The best way for everyone to dress appropriately for your customers and clients both internal and external, is to have a style guide in place. Just like your brand communication collateral style guide.

It’s quite rare nowadays to have a written out formal dress code. However, in the club industry where I have done quite a bit of work, and other environments where a uniform is part of the brand image, a dress code policy is essential as those businesses want their employees to be presenting a smart, professional image as they are ambassadors for the organisation and reflective of the brand to the visiting customers.

Most people do understand what is expected of them, but I still think a “dress style code” should be suggested when new people are inducted into your business because when everyone (including you) presents themselves in the same manner, you maintain a quality culture.

Your written guideline to corporate image should be introduced to all employees when they sign up for their new role. You don’t want to be too authoritarian about it, however some will really appreciate knowing what is expected of them.

Here’s a checklist:

  • The overall brand image including mission, vision of the organisation 
  • Guidelines to business dress and appropriate office wear 
  • Guidelines to the wearing of uniforms if appropriate 
  • Client meeting (on or offline) and networking expectations 
  • Guideline to casual Fridays, including policy on jeans if appropriate 
  • Footwear guidelines, jewellery and accessories including body piercing and tattoos 
  • General appearance including grooming 
  • Safety wear if it is part of your industry or your clients 
Remember if your outfit could speak – what would if say about you and your company?

If you need any assistance with image training or style guidelines, please contact us.

If you would like to understand more about personal branding, sign up for my video series, NOOK, LOOK, HOOK, 3 Ways to Build a Stand Out Personal Brand.

Sue Currie is a speaker and the author of IMPRESSario, Present and Promote the Star Within You. She is recognised as a leading authority on personal branding to boost image, profile, brand and business. Currently offering personal branding, image consulting and profile building packages all delivered online, Sue helps businesses and entrepreneurs position and present an influential professional brand.

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