[caption id="attachment_765" align="aligncenter" width="582"] Image source: Ecouterre.com[/caption]
There's a constant push to be better and faster than yesterday, to constantly strive towards modernism and harness the latest technology. Sometimes, though, it's nice to take a look back at our past and remember where we came from.
McDonald's in the United Kingdom did exactly that in the middle of 2012 when they unveiled a line of charming retro uniforms. Of course, nostalgia can't take all the credit for inspiring the new uniforms -- the uniforms tip their jockey caps to AMC's "Mad Men." Wayne Hemingway, the designer of the uniforms, explained, "We wanted classic design. A narrow tie will always be fashionable. There is a very subtle hint to the mod look, which has never gone out of fashion. Fred Perry has never gone out of fashion. That's why we've gone for a polo shirt with a bit of a trim." He added that the uniforms "hark back to a day of really classy air travel. There's just a little bit of 'Mad Men.'"
Well, I have to admit: the new uniforms are rather snazzy. The muted mocha browns and gherkin greens aren't quite as overwhelming as the older (but not that old) red and yellow uniforms. It goes back to what I said the other day about brown uniforms. Brown uniforms make a person appear professional, down-to-earth, and brown doesn't stick out quite as much as other colors.
It's not surprising that McDonald's would want to evoke the feeling from the '60s. After all, it was an era when companies were viewed more like benevolent father figures than the money-grubbing corporations they're seen as today. It was a decade where customer service was a staple of every good business and people believed that you could get an honest day's pay for an honest day's work.
[caption id="attachment_1081" align="alignnone" width="635"] Image source: Nydailynews.com[/caption]
Don't be afraid to take a page out of McDonald's book. You can use a similar strategy with your company's uniform by designing muted, slightly old-fashioned uniforms. It can be a bit tricky for new companies. After all, new companies don't have a long history that they can look back upon for inspiration. Still, you can from the '50s and '60s for retro looks that combine old-fashioned charm with modern convenience.
For companies that do have a long history, though, breaking out old school fashions can provoke nostalgia for your lifelong customers. The Pittsburgh Steelers, for example, celebrated their 75th anniversary with throwback uniforms from 1934. It was nice to see these old-fashioned uniforms back on the field, even if it was only for a single game.
[caption id="attachment_983" align="alignnone" width="680"] Image source: Usatoday.com[/caption]
Is retro fashion right for your company? Well, it's hard to say. You really have to examine every design choice on a company-by-company basis. The main thing that we can take from this story is that McDonald's has proven that you don't necessarily have to invent something new in order to be compelling. Sometimes, the best ideas come from the past.