Don’t just engage employees. Involve them in your brand.
By: Steve Batterson and Brea Malloy, Associate Directors of Brand Strategy at Simple Truth
Every business has a reason for being. Every business also has its own way of being. Internal brand activation connects the first, your brand promise, with the second, your company culture. Which, ultimately, makes the way you connect with customers more authentic.
To understand how, we have to first see that the brand is not a hard and fast pyramid that gets set in stone and then disseminated for people to learn and repeat. Neither is the brand a piece of your business owned by the marketing department. Instead, it should be a guiding force that fuels your entire organization: your vision, operation and development, culture, interactions and impressions on the world.
The reality is, your people are the ones who deliver your brand to your audience, whether through actual customer interaction or through decisions they make impacting products, perceptions, etc. That’s why internal brand activation is all about creating policies and platforms that let employees actually participate in and shape the brand.
Here are three rules of thumb for investing in true internal brand activation.
Start at the core, start at the top. What your company stands for, what sets it apart and its character are all critical in fueling vision, business strategy and development, as well as culture and marketing. This means activating the brand starts with leadership.
Consider this: If asked what your brand’s purpose, point of differentiation and character are, would your senior leadership all have the same answer?
Immerse, inspire and incentivize. Your brand promise should come to life through the physical environment your people work in. It should seamlessly extend into programs, events, forums, etc. And ideally, it should even affect how you hire and evaluate performance. Immerse your people in endless ways to live the brand. Inspire them to contribute more. And don’t underestimate incentivizing; great activation is valuable, and that value should be acknowledged.
Consider this: How many things about your company culture could you point to that embody what the brand is all about?
Open channels, open opportunities. While senior leadership sets the example, they by no means hold all the keys. Knowledge, insight and great ideas can come from anywhere. When you create ways for people across your organization to share what they know, what they experience and what potential they see in the brand, you activate a culture of opportunity.
Consider this: If your employees had ideas about how to bring your brand to life in the way your company operates, would they know how to share them?
These are just some of the strategies that brands like Intel, 3M, Patagonia and Google use to make what they stand for real in their employees’ (work)lives. Internal activation allows the brand to affect how employees work together and how they connect with your audiences.
Interested in learning more? Join your peers at Strategic Employee Engagement & Internal Brand Activation in NYC on December 7-9, 2015.
Steve Batterson and Brea Malloy are associate directors of brand strategy at Simple Truth, and have helped develop and activate brands using strategies like these for companies such as Allstate, GE and AvalonBay Inc.