By Julia Capeloto
Do your employees know what their company stands for and what makes the brand different from competitors? Ask them. If the answer is no, you have some work to do.
Brand is more than just your company name and logo. Brand is what people think about when they think of your company — this includes customers and employees. Put simply, brand is how people talk about your company when you’re not in the room.
Brand is more than just marketing. We know that a strong brand leads to business growth and customer loyalty, but a strong brand also gives employees a sense of purpose and inspiration, and guides their behavior on the job.
Your sales team, for example, is a representation of your brand. The first time a customer may interact with your brand is when talking to a member of your sales team. But how is your sales team expected to hit their numbers if they don’t understand what the company stands for and how to properly represent it? Modeling the right behavior and developing customer experiences that create an emotional bond and connection with your brand is going to help your sales force hit and exceed their quotas.
How to Deploy a Living Brand
1) When clarifying or re-booting your brand, start by clearly defining your company’s culture, values, and beliefs, and how it comes together to manifest into the external brand expression, from marketing language to the visual impact of your logo.
2) Once you’ve done that hard work, you must communicate it clearly and explicitly to your employees. Start with training sessions to get everyone on board — what your company stands for, what you believe in, what’s the company’s personality is and how to represent the brand during customer interactions. New hires should receive materials on culture and brand in your onboarding materials.
3) Evaluate existing employee programs, incentives, and internal communications to determine if they on brand. Does your treatment of your employees reflect your company values? If they are not, change them. From top to bottom, your employee experience must empower your team to deliver on the brand promise and to bind everyone together as one company.
4) With clear values and beliefs that everyone understands, you can start evaluating people against them as part of your performance management process. You can also start including the values as criteria for recruiting to make sure that the new people you bring into the company are good cultural fits. And the best part — when your company brand is infused with purpose, employees are more likely to find meaning and fulfillment in their jobs, which leads to higher engagement and retention levels.
Your people are your most powerful assets. When your employees are happy, they are your best brand ambassadors. The business success of Zappos is proof that in order to build a strong external brand, you first need engaged and committed employees acting as your best brand ambassadors.
So go ahead — inspire your employees to be something great and build a brand that they can connect to and live.