It’s amazing how many companies invest significantly in building their brand externally and yet expect their brand to come alive internally as if by magic.
Successful companies put their brand to work everywhere. They tend to do these four things really well:
1. Define a clear brand purpose, vision and values.
2. Use their brand as a strategic filter for decision making throughout their entire business.
3. Deliver a consistent brand experience across all touchpoints.
4. Have employees who live the brand and deliver what the brand promises.
That last point is, for so many businesses, an after-thought. And it really shouldn’t be.
For those who do embed their brand within the fabric of their organisation, the rewards are high. Developing a brand with a clear purpose and set of employee behaviours can positively impact revenue and market share, as well as customer experiences. Engaged and impassioned employees result in lower turnover, increased brand advocacy, and in many cases, financial benefits.
Lego, Disney and Google regularly feature in lists of “Most Powerful Brands” and all invest in ensuring their employees are immersed in their brand from day one.
The more aligned employees are to the brand, the more engaged they are. According to research by IBM, 80% of employees felt more engaged when their work was consistent with the core values and mission of their organisation.
And ultimately, those engage employees go on to become incredibly valuable brand advocates. Employees have the power to build the all-important emotional connections with the people who interact with your brand. According to research, 70% of customer brand perception is determined by experiences with people. And while only 15% of people trust recommendations from brands, 84% trust recommendations from people they know.
Edelman’s latest Trust Barometer study goes one step further, revealing that employees rank higher in public trust than a firm’s CEO.
So, if employees are such powerful brand champions, why isn’t every company focused on building their brand within? Perhaps the answer lies in accountability. Whose job is it to ensure every employee is giving the content, the tools, the environment and the rewards to really live and breathe the brand? Is it the responsibility of HR or Marketing?
The truth is, strong brands aren’t built by the Marketing department or the HR department alone – every employee in every department has a role to play.
Although brand identity might be nurtured by the Marketing department, it is lived by everyone – from the receptionist answering the phone to the sales person on the shop floor to the team in operations and finance.
The foundation of effective employee brand building requires that everyone has a complete understanding of, and ability to deliver on, your brand promise. Yet only 41% of employees surveyed strongly agreed with this statement: “I know what my company stands for and what makes our brand different from our competitors.”
Really effective brand building is rooted in authenticity. You simply can’t force employees to think or act a certain way. Producing rigid rules around what can and can’t be done will most likely backfire. To develop desired brand behaviours, employees need to be involved and understand how their own role and behaviour contributes.
The most effective organisations create a culture that lives and breathes the brand every day in everything they do. They ensure every aspect of the company inspires, encourages and recognises desired brand behaviours.
At Big M, we believe it is important to start building brand connections early, well before an employee’s first day in fact. Whether through brand-value based recruitment, brand pre-boarding or onboarding, we see a strong correlation between early brand building and long-term engagement and advocacy.
Every day, in every interaction, your employees have a choice as to how they behave. Whether they choose to live your brand and deliver on your brand promise is largely down to you. How much emphasis do you really place on developing your employees’ understanding of your brand and their personal connection to it?