What is a brand? Ask ten people this question and you are likely to get ten different answers. For some, it is a logo, others, a product. The truth is, it’s a combination of many things. Jay Baer describes branding as “the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company with what people actually do think about your company”.
In today’s marketplace, having a good product, or slick marketing isn’t enough. The people who work for you can be the single biggest boost (or threat) to your brand.
Your employees can make or break your brand
A company’s people are it’s greatest ambassadors. They are your storytellers, the front line of your business, your connection with your customers. It’s no coincidence that brands of all sizes are putting their people front and centre in their marketing and social media.
We’ve all seen companies come undone due to the behaviour of their staff. American Airlines has been one of the most highly publicised in recent year after a catalogue or customer service faux pas that went viral around the world.
Employees need to look the part too
You probably put a lot of thought and budget into how your product, marketing and offices look but think about how you want your employees to present themselves when they are providing services.
Uniforms, equipment, ID badges and company vehicles all need to support the brand you’re trying to create.
A spokesperson for the ID Card Centre said “you never get a second chance to make a first impression. An ID card is an opportunity to promote your log and brand outside of the office”.
Define your brand values, then share them
If you were to ask employees to define your brand and what your company stands for, how many would be able to do it?
In a poll conducted by Gallup, only 41% of employees said they could. How strong is your brand if 60% of the workforce don’t know what it is. How can they be expected to embody that brand?
Communicating this to your people is important, and needs to come from the top down.
Make sure that you are hiring people who believe in what you are doing. You don’t just want people who will memorize your corporate mission statement, but really live it too.
Creating employee advocates
Going beyond customer-facing activities, your ultimate goal should be to create genuine employee advocacy within your organisation. This is where your company is promoted by the people who already work for you.
Looking beyond the social media shout-outs saying thanks for a team lunch, or sharing updates on LinkedIn. Think about how you can encourage them to share your messages in a genuine, organic way that still fits in with your strategic goals.