How to dress for business DFMcKeever

Visual Communication

Many years ago I was invited as a young entrepreneur to attend the first entrepreneurial convention in the European Parliament in Brussels. One evening during a dinner for some of the British delegates I met a retired gentlemen who was a representative and volunteer for a leading British entrepreneur charity where we had an in depth conversation on the subject of image. He recalled for me his first job as a young apprentice in the 1940’s in journalism, where on arriving for his first day at work he was sent to the Editors office, on Bond Street. 

Principle One; Image matters.

I waited patiently for over an hour in the Editors reception, only to be instructed by the secretary that I was to spend the day standing on the corner of Bond Street, with one clear instruction “to people watch”, and not to return until the end of the day. 

At the end of the day I returned to the Editors office where the secretary told me to go home and return the next day. 

The next day I returned to his office as instructed and waited patiently. Finally the editor appeared in the reception instructing his secretary that he would be back in 30 minutes, at that the Editor turned and nodded and gestured for me to follow him. As he walked briskly downstairs and out onto Bond Street he asked:

'So George, what did you learn yesterday? ' 

Nervously, I answered 'There’s a lot of people on Bond Street.'

The editor took me to the corner of Bond Street and stepping backwards into the recess of a closed door way asked 'What do you see, George?'

Before you start any career in journalism the most valuable lesson I can teach you is this; 

'People can tell you a million things without uttering a single word, and if you want to learn one of the most valuable communication tools in life and master journalism, you must first learn how to read people. Many stories can be told by our appearance, clothing, grooming, posture, facial expressions; it communicates our personality, attitude, emotions, economical and social status, sophistication and success.''

He maintained that no matter what generation or culture you come from, whether you are standing on Bond Street in London, Time Square in New York. Even when standing in a room full of strangers or meeting someone for the first time before you open your mouth you have already told your story and firmly established that very important first impression rightly or wrongly

Principle Two; Be honest with your customer, what is your company really about?

Consumers today are exceptionally image savvy. And due to the volume of subliminal marketing and advertising that we are bombarded with daily we are all acutely aware if the image being painted for us is false or incongruent with your brand and marketing message.

Many successful companies like Pixar Studios & Innocents (Health drinks) thrive because they are totally transparent and genuine about their priorities as a company. They realised from day one that there was no place for dress codes or uniforms because their organisation is primarily about self expression and creativity and serve their customers by ensuring the integrity of their creativity in every aspect of their business. 

Other international companies i.e. Disney, McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, UPS etc realise that a uniform and dress code must be executed precisely and is essential to their brand identity, company success and profitability- because their role is to serve the customers needs before their needs of the employee.

Clothing and image can be a very emotive issue for many people, because primarily it is a major part of self expression and personal identity. Secondly many of our clothing choices are made emotionally rather than rationally. When being honest about your company culture you have to face up to one of the biggest arguments and challenge which I have always had; addressing the balance between personal freedom of self expression which I passionately believe in and the lack of common sense where a strict disciplined image is essential in the workplace. Customers today expect and demand leadership, confidence and assertiveness from a company and brand.

21st Century & Image

First and foremost individuals must accept even in the 21st century there are clearly defined careers where their primary function and role is to serve the customer. Personal image and identity are irrelevant where a disciplined image, uniform and dress code are both essential and necessary to communicate authority, confidence, respect and maintain order & safety i.e. Police, Fire Service, Military, Immigration, Legal profession, Aviation etc.

A typical example is the case of the 70’s Air stewardess’s, who had been issued with overtly feminine uniforms with no authoritative value. Passenger’s lives were put at risk as well meaning male passenger’s put the air stewardess’s off the plane during an emergency crash landing leaving no one qualified & trained to get passengers safely off the plane. 

A good professional image or uniform when executed correctly will convey authority and confidence it will also demand attention and respect in various roles of responsibility. Within these roles attention to details in dress code are essential the simplest bending of the rules can totally destroy the effectiveness of an otherwise very effective uniform.

If you would like to learn more about D.F.McKeever and her books please visit: 

Available in both E-book & Paperback AMAZON BOOKS 


Are Colleges teaching graduates how to sustain an income & career in the Arts?

Since an early age I have always loved listening to great storytellers; especially authentic life stories. An interest that began listening to my Dad with his adventures as an entrepreneur selling his latest engineering invention’s. This continued into adulthood as a business person listening to the fascinating stories of self made entrepreneurs and professionals.

Memorable Meetings

One of my fondest memories came when I met two distinguished gentlemen in the Hilton Edinburgh one day. For what was supposed to be a brief business meeting- developed into the most insightful and positive three hour’s of my career in business. 

One of the many topics we spoke about that day from patents, trademarks to business systems and theories was the immense creative unrealised potential of our great Art Colleges in Scotland. With the ear of an ex-board member of one of Scotland’s leading Art Colleges I raised a question to Norman. Whether our Art Colleges were teaching graduates how to sustain an income and career in the Arts on graduating?

Unlike other Art & Design graduates I had an equal measure of commercial business skills that came from being born and bred into an entrepreneurial family. But what about all that creative talent exiting those Art College gates every year?

Truth is often stranger than Fiction!

Norman shared one brilliant story about the successful Scottish Artist Jack Vettriano.

On Leith Walk in the outskirts of Edinburgh is a small Barbers that Norman regularly visited for many years. Another customer that shared the same barbers was a poor dishevelled undiscovered artist called ‘Jack Vettriano’.

Norman recalled the regular banter and jokes in the barbers about Jack and his unpaid barbers tab and the barber continually commenting that he was promised one of his paintings in exchange for his bill.

Several months past and Norman noticed Jack’s absence and enquired to the barber about Jack, only to be told that he was now living somewhere in the Mediterranean.

Weeks and months passed and then one day as Norman sat in the barbers a new smartly dressed and transformed Jack Vettriano appeared in the barber’s doorway with the money for his unpaid barbers tab. With Norman recounting one of the most important things that Jack said;

”I am now a brand!”

And well the rest is history!

33 years on from graduating from Art College I ask the question. How many creative students graduate with the additional skills to sustain an income and career in their chosen field?

Thank you Norman & Gilbert 


Why is your Brand & Trademark so important?

One of the biggest mistakes in business or in my industry product design is branding. No matter how wonderful a product idea or innovation you have your brand name & identity is crucial. This is one area where cash is often wasted and crucial mistakes made. It is essential that you obtain the correct expertise and advice. Especially when making what may seem like a simple decision like the choice of company name or logo design or even more importantly securing your URL's.

As a designer I have had years of experience in developing brands, logo's and filing trademarks. I've even had the pleasure of a trademark challenge from one of the worlds biggest brands over a brand my husband & I own which ends in the letters 'oogle'.

Here are just a few suggestions for the business start-up, new inventors or if you are looking to rebrand your existing business.

The ultimate word in in branding is being "congruent" from your company name, your logo, web design, to vehicle or uniform design. Everything must synchronize to tell the same story, one that appeals to your customer needs and wants.


Make your name short, memorable and unique. Ensure it is available; does someone already have the trademark, registered company or URL's. Do you have your ?Avoid misspellings, negative connotations or conflicts with your major competitors. (see &


Securing ownership of your domains is now as equally important as obtaining an available company name or title. We live in the technology age where your website is as important as your social media network profile.(see


If you plan to be a sole trader or partnership, still think ahead if you decide to become a limited company. Is the company name or brand owned by someone else? What will be the cost and loss to you and your customers down the line of lost brand continuity. And at worse re-branding; vehicles, signage, stationary, paper work, website etc.


Like your registered company name it is essential that you check for any conflicts with other companies, brands, competitors in relation to your logo mark, symbol to your choice of colour pantone & font.


Your marketing mediums start and end with everything from; stationary, brochures, website, social networking pages to premises signage, interior design, staff uniforms, vehicle design to dress code. Your marketing mediums represent your visual company C.V, they are the visual communication of your company to your customer, supplier and competitors.    

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