Show your True Colours

Posted on: 20th Jul 2017 by: Jane Phillips

Distinctive red and yellow superhero colours help the life savers stand out on the beach and in the ocean.

When I start styling any new uniform I always work within the existing brand identity, taking into account company values and the roles of the staff I have to dress. I also pay close attention to colours, as they make the psychological first impression and can make all the difference to how the wearer comes across and also how they feel about the company they work for.

Colours each have their own energy and can be used to harness positive emotions and be used for symbolic purposes - for example to signify strength and confidence. Here are some interesting insights into the colour spectrum, and work thinking about when embarking on a corporate branding project.

Red means danger, a warning to those who don't recognise its power status, but it is also immensely positive and energetic. The ultimate authority colour, red stimulates strength, blood and passion. Red serves its purpose really well in the universal colour combo of the surf lifesavers because it stands out vividly on the beach. Used alongside yellow it tones down the danger with a sense of fun and community. It is also a great example of a primary colour paring that elevates the life savers to superhero status - which is of course what they are.

Choose navy blue for the ultimate professional image as it symbolises balance, mediation and stability, no wonder it is the number one choice for the police and anyone trying to emulate the security forces. Navy doesn't have to be formal though, incorporate navy into a uniform with casual polo-shirts or a smarter shirt, to project a good impression without the tailoring. Navy is more chic than black, elegantly European, navy is smart and suits all skin tones much better than black.

Light Blue
Light blue is the colour of the sky, depth and even heaven. It is a creative colour that symbolises open-mindedness. It is also used to represent cleanliness and health, but since it is an appetite suppressant, light blue is not ideal for food service roles. Light blue is often used alongside navy as an accent in a scarf or shirt. The 'blue-collar' shirt might make staff more approachable than someone wearing a white shirt.

Yellow the colour of the sun and cheerfulness. It invokes memories of childhood and happy times and most often used in tourism and hospitality and especially when appealing to family and kids. We've recently used yellow to great effect with a tour bus uniform, subtly accenting scarves and also bright yellow rubber raincoats - a traditional yellow garment that we teamed with navy.

Green is the colour of nature and promotes harmony and healing as well as transformation and change. The restful colour sits well with all uniforms that are associated with nature and of course organisations that have claim positive environmental credentials - public transport operators really should consider green uniform for not only do they have the credentials, the right shade would represent a welcome calm and safe pair of hands.

Orange offers the best of its two partners, red and yellow. It offers a stimulating and creative enhancement and because it is the colour of harvest-time it is perfect for promoting food, Sainsbury's brand incorporates orange to this effect. Not a great colour for a whole uniform, but definitely used to provide some pop with accessories, to catch attention and represent strength and endurance.

Gold is similar to the properties of orange and yellow - with added prestige, wisdom and status. Gilt-edge your uniform or use embroidered gold thread to instil confidence and success into your staff.

We know some of our coach tour operators offer magical and mystery tours, in this case purple would be the ultimate hue to enhance this. Also the colour of royalty, power and nobility, purple is quite a popular colour in the coaching world for obvious reasons.

White is a popular choice for uniforms in the healing professions, it is cool and symbolises positive attributes of cleanliness, safety and purity. White also promotes relaxation and calm and is the mystical colour for truth. The white lab coat is ubiquitous in scientific and medical settings, tech giant Apple, predominantly makes white products to symbolise purity of design.

Black is the great flatterer, except if it's in cheaper overly synthetic material, when it can fade and not give uniforms the best professional image. As well as being the colour of mourning and formality, black signifies prestige and can be used to contrast other colours. Black is often used in fashion stores and hairdressers for practical reasons but also to create the impression of a shadow, someone working in the background. It can be seen as fashion-forward and edgy, at the expense of being approachable and personable.

Grey is a modern alternative to black and is used to great effect alongside other colours such as pink. The colour can also have a restorative and calming effect against stress. Fast food chain, Macdonalds' recent switch to monochrome didn't go down well with some staff and customers, with accusations of dystopian futuristic food service, or something out of Star Wars!

My final word on this is not to play it safe though, using colour in a clever way and using your staff styling to enhance your brand values and make your uniform distinctive - above all else, to create pride in the job for the wearers.

Tags: uniforms, colour, travel, tourism, livery, branding, corporate clothing, staff uniforms.,