The Shocking Truth Behind Brand Image In Early Years

Back in the day, I frequently socialised with the CEO of a prominent nursery chain. Our relationship began when we acquired their training company, now known as Parenta Training. Over time, our collaboration expanded, with us providing various services, starting from software solutions and eventually extending to a comprehensive redesign of their company website, covering around 50 settings. This partnership proved fruitful, benefiting both parties by leveraging our respective expertise to improve operations and services for their customers.  

A Lesson In Brand Image

I remember vividly his passion for his brand image, and how fastidious he was about getting every detail right. He was proud of the company he’d built and wanted to control the narrative about how his settings were seen both by customers and within each community. 

At the time, Parenta was situated in one of Kent’s most prestigious business parks, formerly a WWII airfield. While our offices were in the historic officers’ area, the remainder of the park was brimming with the sleek and contemporary structures synonymous with major blue-chip companies. These modern glass and steel buildings exuded an air of efficiency. Notably, the business park attracted a clientele of affluent professionals who cared about their appearance. 

During the website development process for the CEO, he proposed visiting our offices to collaborate directly with our designers. As he had a setting in the business park, he planned to meet with them in the morning before joining us in the afternoon for our session.  

The Impact Of Staff Conduct

He arrived late. A bit flustered. Something wasn’t right in another setting, and he’d been dealing with that. “Can we go and grab a sandwich; I need food and the walk to clear my head?”. Of course, we obliged, and we walked down together to the nearest sandwich shop passing his setting on the way. As we walked past his place, he was describing how excited he was about what they were doing there and how pleased he was with the way the team were progressing. Of course, I asked about occupancy, and he explained it was only just over half full, which he didn’t understand given the amount of people on the business estate, and the prestigious nature of the setting. He explained that the website work he was doing with us was part of addressing this issue and how he was expecting lots of leads to be generated from their new online presence. 

Suddenly, he halted abruptly, his face flushing with colour and his breaths becoming laboured. Concerned, I wondered if he was unwell. However, it wasn’t until I followed his gaze outside the sandwich shop that I realised what had caught his attention. 

There was a group of his staff. You couldn’t miss them, bright yellow polo shirts with the logo on the front and his brand name emblazoned on the back in large capital letters. But this group were all smoking and had food stains all down the front of their uniforms. 

Implementing Solutions For Brand Image Enhancement

He was furious, and understandably so. This was a company spending a huge amount of money on its brand image, and yet they’d missed the most basic issue of all. The biggest advert for any business is the staff and how they conduct themselves, especially if they are wearing branded clothing with the company’s logo. 

While I respect individuals’ choices regarding smoking, branded staff must exercise discretion. Additionally, staff may inevitably get food on their uniforms while serving young children. However, it’s simple for you to ensure clean uniforms are available for them after mealtimes if needed. 

Upon recognising these concerns, my CEO friend quickly addressed and fixed the issue by providing a smoking shelter discreetly positioned at the back of the setting, away from parents’ view. He also provided additional uniforms for staff to change into as necessary. Furthermore, he established clear behavioural guidelines for all staff wearing the uniform, whether on-site or off-site. Consequently, his prospective client base witnessed impeccably presented staff outside the sandwich shop, elevating rather than tarnishing his brand image. 

The moral of the story is this. Brand image is so much more than your logo, your uniform, your signage, or your website. How staff conduct themselves when wearing their uniform, whether within the setting or outside, affects how your setting is perceived by local parents. 

For more hints and tips about how successful settings run their early years businesses – get a copy of Dr Allan Presland’s number one best-selling book from Amazon here. 

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