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Sometimes the Shirt Says More than the Logo

Years ago I read a section of Gordon Bethune’s From Worst To First which was about his early days at Continental Airlines.  One of the things he noticed right away was the lack of employee morale.  Flight Attendants would leave their planes, immediately take off their jackets, fold them up, and proceed through the airport.  They were embarrassed to be associated with Continental.

There were many measures that Bethune put into place, but what I found interesting was one of his key metrics for success – sales of Continental logo’d items in the employee stores.  When he saw that the sales of logo’d items were increasing – he knew that the efforts were working.

This story was brought to mind when I read How To Set The Stage For Employee Commitment by @nametagscott.

This article comes at the issue of employee enthusiasm from the other end of the spectrum – and is a powerful example of what it means to have an employee be a walking, talking, visible example of the company brand.

At the time I read Bethune’s piece, I was vice president of marketing at MIP.  I created an MIP store.  There were dozens of logo’d shirts employees could chose from – including women’s styles, Hawaiian shirts, denim shirt, polos, button-downs and t-shirts.  The company paid for half.  The employee paid for half.  After six months, if you walked into our office, roughly 75-80% of the employees were wearing MIP shirts.

Customers that came in for training asked if they could buy shirts.  We gave the shirts as gifts at the conferences we hosted and as special gifts for customers who came by the booth when we were exhibiting at conferences.

We sold our software through a reseller channel and our partners bought as many shirts as we gave away.  They’d be visiting our company in Austin and swing by my office to see what kind of shirts I had in the closet because they wanted to buy a few to bring back to their team.

A few months ago, I went to the retirement party of a CPA who was an MIP reseller.  There were many MIP resellers and MIP employees (past and current) at the party.  When I walked out to the pool area – many of the shirts from the old days had been hung up on the fence for the old days.  It was like a memorabilia show.  And I felt very good about the work I had done.

6 Responses to Sometimes the Shirt Says More than the Logo

  1. Ed Kless says:

    I still have a few pieces of Great Plains logo wear in my closet.

  2. Wayne Schulz says:

    So true Dawn. I don’t have a lot of logo-wear but when I think back to what I do have — it’s all of brands that I admire and/or am a fan of.

  3. Janice says:

    I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly on logo’ed shirts & jackets. The good ones stick with me through all sorts of changes. The brand included is part of it but I have to say comfort is a big part too…. cotton shirts stay far longer in my working wardrobe than polyester blends. As a brand is challenged, one of the most powerful ways to get grassroots support is to have people who embody your brand still have the confidence to wear it proudly and have conversations on behalf of the brand.

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