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Bank, Credit Union

The Benefits of Branded Credit Union & Bank Apparel

Marc Healy, executive director of retail and marketing
4 min read
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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Consider your branch network’s dress code for a moment. Do your institution’s employees have a standard uniform? Do they need to incorporate your FI’s colors into some element of their outfit? Or do they follow general “business casual” guidelines? (And do they know what this means?)

Consistency carries a lot of weight in earning and keeping consumers’ trust. When it comes to in-branch banking, customers and members need to know they’re in the right place and will be treated well, no matter the location. Employees who wear branded bank apparel support that consistency while communicating their expertise and authority to branch visitors.

Branded apparel can come in any form, and can be a relatively inexpensive marketing solution. That being said, we recommend prioritizing high quality pieces that employees will value and take pride in wearing — and that your customers will put to real use in the form of giveaway products.

Read on to see how your financial institution can leverage apparel to reinforce your brand’s legitimacy and your care for both employees and customers.

Purpose of Branding

Branding is the visual manifestation of your business. It can include your logo, signature colors, the kind of language you use in your marketing collateral, or the style of your company’s graphics. Branding elements lend your business an instantly recognizable persona — think of Target’s red bull’s-eye, the McDonald’s jingle (“I’m lovin’ it”), or Tiffany & Co.’s signature robin’s-egg blue.

When you brand your company beyond giving it a name and a tagline, each of its branding elements has the potential to:

  • Become familiar to the public
  • Be easy to identify
  • Create a distinct and lasting impression
  • Convey professionalism
  • Project a unique, persistent, and consistent identity
  • Lead people to associate your brand with a quality, personality, and personal preference

When patrons of your business interact with an employee, it’s an opportunity to establish or reinforce your brand awareness and values. For banks and credit unions, specifically, it’s likely that you’ll want your employees to project trustworthiness, professionalism, expertise, and approachability. Official branded apparel can lend significant weight to this message.

How Branded Apparel Impacts Your Customer Base

Consumers tend to associate branded apparel with large, well established companies, especially if that apparel is typically worn by the company’s employees. For example, when asked, most American shoppers can describe the basic elements of a Best Buy, Staples, or USPS uniform. At a subconscious level, customers’ perceptions of employees who wear a corporate uniform tend to be largely positive; it telegraphs expertise, authority, and professionalism. Plus, it makes employees much easier to spot and communicate with in a retail setting.

If your employees all wear matching or cohesive outfits, they automatically become a team of brand ambassadors. A line of tellers or a pool of loan officers all wearing your FI’s company colors reinforces this, boosting customers’ or members’ confidence. And if people are more comfortable doing business with you, that increases both customer loyalty and sales volume.

Remember that consistency sells — if and when customers have a positive experience with your brand (including with an employee representing that brand), they are more likely to return.

Create a Strong Corporate Culture

Branded apparel doesn’t just benefit the customer — it can also help strengthen your employees’ relationship to each other and your brand.

When customer-facing employees are allowed to wear whatever they want to work, it can sometimes result in a workforce that’s not particularly unified. Even if the dress code is “professional,” this can mean different things to different people; one person’s professional attire may be another’s casual Friday, and so on. Establishing a “uniform” of sorts that incorporates branded apparel creates cohesion and gives your employees a professional identity while they’re on the job.

Something as simple as a polo shirt with your institution’s logo on the chest, when worn by all front-of-house employees, unites your staff as a team. Employees who represent their employer through apparel generally identify more strongly with the company’s values and feel more responsible for delivering on the company’s goals.

Plus, the higher the quality, the more likely your employees will wear their workwear outside of the workplace, where they effectively become walking (and well-dressed) billboards.

How High Quality Apparel Improves the Employee Experience

By providing your employees with high quality apparel — whether that’s polo shirts, fleece vests, or silk scarves — they’ll have daily options that are both comfortable and professional. Sourcing your apparel from premium brands will make your employees actively want to wear these pieces, as opposed to stuffing them in the back of their closets or reserving them for yard work.

Following a switch to branded corporate apparel, employees often report a boost in workplace satisfaction. This can be attributed to the aforementioned feeling of being part of a team, a sense of pride in representing their company, and the decrease in stress that results from not having to decide on an outfit every morning. And with satisfied employees comes improved customer service.

Employees who feel respected and valued by their employer — a feeling that high quality, branded apparel can reinforce — demonstrate more dedication to delivering on and exceeding their employers’ expectations.

Use Branded Apparel for Promotional Giveaways

Free pens and calendars have their place — but have you considered adding down vests, windbreakers, or high quality wool socks to your giveaway lineup? Branded apparel that customers will actually wear are excellent vehicles for “free” advertising, and are a great way for customers to share their enthusiasm about your company. Items like these are not destined for the junk drawer.

The next time someone compliments your customer’s stylish new umbrella, beanie, or workout pants, they can say, “Thanks — I got it at [insert your FI’s name here].”

Increase Brand Awareness with Element

As a trusted financial institution, you want your bank or credit union to be a staple in your employees’ and customers’/members’ lives. The same can be true of your corporate apparel! Expand your promotional marketing program to include branded pieces for both staff and customers/members, who can help extend awareness of your brand beyond your branch walls.

Here at Element, we’ve observed that high quality, branded apparel is a rising trend in the retail banking sector. If your corporate apparel collection is due for a makeover, let’s talk.

Marc Healy
executive director of retail and marketing

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