When employees understand their brand better, experts say, they're more likely to be engaged with their company and more productive at work.
Your people are your brand. It's how they greet customers, answer their questions, prospect for business and deliver your goods and services. In fact, research reveals that 75 percent of customers' perceptions about a company are determined by their experience with its employees.
Even if your workers never go beyond the factory floor, you depend on all your employees to keep your company's promise to your customers.
To truly make your brand part of your company's culture, you have to make it personal for your employees. That means translating your brand strategy into their everyday actions. According to Nancy Benben, former director of marketing communications at NewAlliance Bank in New Haven, Conn., "working with all levels of an organization, from executive vice-presidents to tellers, means creating 'real- life brand definitions that are relevant and meaningful to all employees."
Branding on the Inside is Good for Outside Business
When employees understand their brand better, they're more likely to be engaged with their company and more productive at work.
A recent Gallup survey proves the connection between internal employee engagement and profitability: disengaged employees cost an estimated $300 billion a year in lost productivity to the U.S. economy. Studies like this demonstrate the value of your employees to your company's brand.
CoreBrand's own brand tracking studies that began in 1990 measure and track the impact that brand has on business, including the effectiveness of brand-building efforts and their impact on financial performance. Our studies reveal that companies that consistently rank in the top of Fortune's Best Places to Work pay close attention to their brands and informing their employees. And the top ranked companies know that the more clarity they have about their brand with employees, the more it can lead to increased employee engagement.
"Assessing employees' perspectives is critical to the process. The results help create a more engaging brand that is both credible and compelling to all key audiences -- especially to employees, " says Lee Meyers, corporate director of marketing and communications at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in Memphis, Tenn.
Turn Information into Action
To make your brand more than marketing mush, you need to inform, teach and engage with your employees so they can understand and learn how to act "on-brand."
Here are some simple guidelines that can help you go from informing employees about your brand to action.
* Know your internal audience. Understand what your employees need to know, who influences them, and how they learn. Consider the different levels of knowledge and sophistication.
* Put a team in charge. A multi-disciplinary team representing branding, HR, training and internal communication will give you a broader perspective with more insight and guidance.
* Make a commitment. An employee engagement program needs top-level buy-in and resources from senior leaders. You'll lose credibility if you start and stop halfway through a program.
* Communicate early and often. Information is powerful. Timely, consistent response to project deliverables will keep things moving. Don't let internal programs take second place to business as usual.
* Expect a loud response. Channel the support of dedicated and engaged brand allies to lead those in the middle of the curve. Bring them along and ignore the vocal naysayers.
* Engage your whole company. Everyone must be involved. Branding is everyone's responsibility -- from the top down and the bottom up.
Larry Oakner is the managing director of strategy at CoreBrand, an independent branding consulting firm in New York.