Colors often don’t have set meanings (although some industries may regulate uniform colors), but some colors are associated with particular feelings or impressions to the observer. A business generally has significant leeway in the colors it uses for uniforms and should develop a system early on that is logical and self-consistent.
Designing a Coding System That Works
Unless you’re operating in an industry where color-coded clothing is regulated, the color of a uniform is generally up to the individual business. However, colors are also known to be broadly perceived in certain ways. As such, one is likely to notice certain colors that are more common in uniforms.
The colors a company uses for its uniforms should modify how a customer perceives an employee. The color coding a company uses should make sense for that company’s needs.
Note that not every employee in a company necessarily needs a unique color-coded uniform for their role. For example, a company may have some employees (especially executives) wear suits of their choosing rather than any specific, company-mandated uniform. Some employees, such as landscapers and gardeners, may also have similarly colored uniforms.
Potential Uses for Different Uniform Colors
Some common colors used for company uniforms include the following:
Black is often perceived as a color of power and authority. It also often gives the impression that the wearer is elite or sophisticated. This is a common, easily sourced uniform color because black uniforms tend to be aesthetically pleasing.
Many companies use black to give the impression they provide elite, professional service. One might also use this color for those in positions of authority or rule enforcement, such as leaders and security guards.
Red is associated with many feelings, including passion and aggression. In the context of a business, it is often thought of as a “call to action” color, which helps draw the eye and keep people’s attention. Red is a fairly common uniform color, especially in companies whose logos feature red prominently. It can be a good color for those in general customer-facing roles, such as those who operate help desks.
The feelings we associate with the color pink have evolved culturally over time. Although it is still often thought of as a feminine color, people of all genders increasingly wear it. It is also associated with compassion and an ability to nurture.
In many ways, pink can be used in the same roles as those wearing red. It can also give the impression of cleanliness, making it a relatively good choice for those who work with food.
Yellow is often called a happy color. It is vibrant and loud. Many people find it draws their attention and helps boost their mood.
While somewhat uncommon for a uniform’s primary color, it can be a good color for roles in which safety is a concern, as it can make a worker easy to spot, assuming their surroundings aren’t similarly colored. However, remember that a yellow uniform should not replace actual safety vests and similar gear in situations where safety is a major concern, such as when an employee is working near heavy machinery.
Orange shares many associations with yellow and is often thought of as a warm, happy color. Experts suggest that orange can influence people by uplifting their spirits and promoting conversation.
An orange uniform may be helpful in any role where you want an employee to be regularly interacting with customers, from sales to those operating a help desk. It’s also a fairly good safety color because it’s fairly visible at a distance in many environments, much like yellow.
Many businesses use the color white to symbolize fairness and equality. It also gives the impression of cleanliness. Any stain is obvious on a white uniform, so a well-maintained white uniform can seem especially clean and its wearer especially hygienic.
At the same time, white can sometimes be associated with a feeling of harsh sterility and distance. It is commonly used in medical and food preparation roles, where the impression that the worker is both clean and ethical in their behavior can help ease anxious clients or customers.
Where To Prioritize Color Choices
The ability of colors to change how people perceive a given entity is fairly well documented, but only to a certain degree. Color can influence how people perceive a company’s employees while simultaneously helping employees quickly identify another employee’s role even at a distance.
A company benefits from deciding which uniform colors make sense for which roles early on and sticking to those colors so they can develop a cohesive, well-understood color-coding system that both employees and returning customers can understand. This isn’t to say the colors and designs of uniforms cannot evolve. Instead, changes to the system should be done for a reason because they require people to relearn the system if it is changed too radically.
While some businesses may benefit from buying their uniforms outright, it is important to consider whether renting may be more beneficial for your company. This is a topic we’ve discussed in more detail in the past and it’s worth reading about the pros and cons of each approach.
If you’d like to learn more about Alsco’s uniform rental services, click here. With over 130 years of experience, we can help you reduce employee turnover, maintenance costs and more with our rental uniforms. If you make any changes to your employee uniform colors, it’s a much less expensive endeavor when you rent your uniforms.