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Women, uniforms and brand identity in Barclays bank

Newton, L. and Barnes, V. (2020) Women, uniforms and brand identity in Barclays bank. Business History. ISSN 1743-7938

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2020.1791823

Abstract/Summary

This study examines the deployment of female employees as ‘Personal Bankers’ in Barclays Bank from the 1970s onwards to improve relationships with customers (which were poor) and increase the bank’s volume of business in a competitive environment. Uniforms were introduced for Personal Bankers in order to clearly differentiate these staff within bank branches and to enhance the bank’s brand identity. The research analyses the ways in which female workers at Barclays adopted this ‘corporate wear’ and the impact it had upon staff and customers. It considers how female employees were able to bargain collectively, navigate issues pertaining to their appearance and express their views about their workplace environment. The article does this within the context of changes in British retail banking, banking trade unions and feminist movements of the period. The research finds that female employees of Barclays viewed uniforms as a visible marker for making in-roads into the corporate world as they allowed women to present a professional appearance at work. For Barclays, uniforms were successful in reinforcing the brand identity of the bank. And for customers, Personal Bankers were a successful attempt to re-personalize services in a context in which banking was becoming increasingly depersonalized. Uniforms were later successfully introduced for men in Barclays branches from the 1990s, when an emphasis on brand identity and selling banking services increased. The commissioning of the renowned designer, Jeff Banks, to create the new uniforms demonstrated the investment that Barclays was willing to make into the appearance of their branch staff who were at the forefront of customer interaction.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Henley Business School > International Business and Strategy
ID Code:91026
Uncontrolled Keywords:gender, women, branding, marketing, corporate identity, banks, banking
Publisher:Taylor & Francis

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