At the height of the space race, JFK visited NASA. As he toured the complex, meeting engineers and astronauts to discuss their work, he met a man, overalls on and broom in hand. “What do you do here?” the President asked. “I’m helping to put a man on the moon” replied the cleaner.
This encounter demonstrates the importance of internal brand engagement. Why? Because it is your people who are the biggest asset for your business and brand. Everyone, from the bottom to the top, is responsible for shaping it, for developing it, and delivering it.
It is quite common though, for businesses who spend big on tactical advertising to then under-deliver on their promises due to disconnected employees. It is here that the brand is eventually weakened by those responsible for communicating it. In any business, but especially where that employee’s interaction with customers and other stakeholders is important, the value of employees’ brand advocacy is self-evident. In our experience, investing in internal brand engagement goes a long way to address this.
Companies must also recognise that this isn’t just a project for the HR department. Often workplaces look to ensure an ever-present feel good factor, but a happy workplace doesn’t equal a passionate workforce. So, addressing a lack of brand knowledge, compliance and delivery understanding is crucial. Without this, not only is a lack of inspiration to deliver the brand likely, but it’s not even clear what the brand even stands for.
One company that clearly recognises the importance of getting this right is Virgin Media. Ashley Stockwell, Managing Director of Brand and Marketing, says “you don’t turn a company into a Virgin company by putting the logo above the door”. Rather, by taking the approach of building the Virgin brand among its employees, Virgin Media regularly appears at the top of customer satisfaction surveys. In an increasingly price-driven, commoditised market, these victories make a real difference.
So, how do you ensure genuine brand engagement with employees? You build a ‘culture’ that supports your strategy and helps deliver your brand. Here’s how:
Ensure your brand positioning is clearly de?ned. It’s just as important for internal brand engagement as it is for external consumers.
Involve employees and brand the process. A good example is IBM, who engaged its entire global employee network in ‘Values-Jam’ - a re-examination of the company’s values. Having employee partake in the process greatly increases their buy-in, and by branding this dedicated programme of activity, deliverables and ways employees can get involved, something more tangible for all is created.
Actually launch your brand internally; drive employee awareness and commitment by helping them understand the credibility and reality of your brand’s aims.
Invest in an ongoing, two-way engagement process. Simple brand guidelines can so often engender only rigidity. It’s much more effective to use your brand as ongoing inspiration. Ultimately, don’t let the effects of all your hard work subside!