You know the old saying about leading a horse to water? Brand is similar. No matter how solid your brand, how promising or well-developed, it is not something that can be pushed on employees.
You can work for a brand you don’t love, but to put your heart into the endeavor, you need to be genuinely attracted to it. As some of your most powerful brand ambassadors, employees have to be sold on your brand, and that doesn’t come by tricks and gimmicks. It comes by forging a bond between your brand and your actual, live company culture.
Can employees learn to stick by your brand? You bet. The key is to stay authentic.
Here are three key questions to ask yourself as you authentically connect your employees to your brand.
1- What makes your brand worth loving?
When you think about the company you lead, what makes you feel proud, energized, and optimistic, or gives you a sense of satisfaction? Write down a few brief thoughts.
Now ask the question in a different way. If you were not a leader in your organization, but a client, why would you buy from your brand? Write down these thoughts, too.
Between your insights from the top and your insights from a customer’s perspective, you have the in-between space of an employee’s perspective. Employees both lead and advertise for you. You need to know what is appealing about your brand from the perspective of a leader and a customer and use those aspects to connect with employees.
For example, if your company thrives on innovation that aspect of your brand is a benefit for the leadership, as well as a benefit for employees. It adds excitement and forward-thinking to the work you do every day. You can stress this benefit in recruiting and training, and make sure it’s reflected in employees’ daily work and company culture, and be met with reward.
The flip side of that might be extraordinarily creative solutions for your clients, which they love, even if it means taking your time on complex projects to get them done right. This is appealing to employees, too. This means staff is sought and trained on the basis of extraordinary work done at a reasonable pace, not on giving quick turnaround number one priority. Stress creativity and client satisfaction over client numbers, and make sure employee reward systems and company policy consistently reflect that.
2- How do employees help build your brand?
Brand doesn’t come out of the blue. It is based on the concrete identity and embodied values of your company. By living out your mission every day, employees have a crucial role in expressing these values, but also in creating them. Employees themselves create a certain feel and character in your organization and combine unique skill sets to breathe life into your logo, mission statement, and reputation. Your brand can technically exist without your employees, but it can’t do anything without them.
Employees embody and bring meaning to your brand. So how are they helping currently to build it? One of the easiest ways to let employees help build your brand is by getting them in on the ground floor of brand-building (for a new business), rebranding, or any other major marketing shifts in your company. Always get their feedback on where the company is headed, and ask them how they feel they are contributing to your mission. Do you even know whether they feel attracted to your brand? What brought them to your company in the first place? They will have a critical perspective on how your brand’s promises are actually being fulfilled, and where your brand is making an impact, or failing to.
If you do this, you’re giving your employees a genuine and valuable stake in the present and future of your company. Employees remain where they are valued, where they feel like a part of the team, and where they can contribute to change. This is why many companies refer to employees as “owners.”
3- Does your brand need to change?
If your brand makes certain promises, it’s important you be able to fulfill them. Sometimes you need to backtrack on your brand because it has been targeting the wrong audience or area of service. Sometimes your ambitions outstrip what your staff is actually able to accomplish with excellence. Fulfilling brand promise should never be prioritized over the happiness of your employees. Other times, you may find that you’re meeting and exceeding your goals, and need to expand and add an element to your brand that wasn’t there previously.
As you receive feedback from employees on branding or rebranding, consider how and if your brand needs to change to align with what they see.
One benefit of connecting employees deeply to your brand is that they function as your brand’s bellwether, showing you when your brand is moving into an area of weakness on inauthenticity. Unhappiness or frustration in staff may be the result of attempts to save face for your brand rather than change tack. You may also find your brand fronting a positive or slick image at the cost of real employee engagement and enthusiastic energy. These are all helpful signs. When your brand is disconnecting or disconnected from your employees, you can be sure it’s disconnecting from clients, too. It’s time to make a change.
Brand authenticity is so important for your employees because it grants them a sense of ownership, leadership, and “buy-in,” and encourages positivity, longevity, and excellent performance. Employees are also good for brand authenticity. Realizing how they connect helps your brand fulfill its potential.
A consistent brand that connects with employees takes work. It comes from the heart, from an authentic vision, and from a killer strategy. Range, a Deluxe company, wants to see your brand succeed at all three. RangeBrands is our premium Marketing Services Agency, and we’ll work hard to get you the authentic and creative results you need. Connect with a consultant today.