Today we’re back with our ‘brand basics’ blog series. Here’s what we’ve covered so far:
- Before you begin – the questions to answer before kicking off your brand development journey
- Look and feel – why they matter, and how to get them right
- Tone of voice – how to ensure that the way you speak and write reflects your brand
- Ensuring brand consistency as your business grows
The next topic we’re considering shifts the focus inwards. How can you ensure that every member of staff within your organisation – and every new member of staff you recruit – is as committed to your brand as you are? What responsibilities do your staff members have for maintaining and promoting your brand – and how can you best help them to fulfil those responsibilities?
Your staff are your brand ambassadors
Every time a member of staff represents your business externally – from a conversation with a potential customer, to running a procurement procedure with a supplier or writing a job advert – they are contributing to your brand identity. If all of those engagements and communications are carried out consistently, in line with the elements of your brand we’ve already considered, then that brand is strengthened. It is viewed consistently. Whichever touchpoint people have with your business – and remember, many people will have more than one – they have the same clear idea of what your business is all about.
By contrast, if those touchpoints are inconsistent – if different members of staff give a different impression of what your business is all about, make different promises and project a different personality, then your audiences become confused. Your brand is fragmented and weakened. And, as we’ve discussed already, an inconsistent brand can damage your reputation and even your bottom line.
The importance of your staff being committed to your brand doesn’t stop there, however. Building consistent brand awareness and activity among your staff members also helps to develop internal camaraderie and morale. Every member of staff feels like they are part of the same cohesive whole. This is essential for collaboration and productivity – and for attracting new talent to join your business.
How can you get your staff to commit to your brand?
Happily, there are a wide range of techniques and processes available to you. One logical way of implementing a strategy around employee brand awareness is to consider the three stages in a typical employee lifecycle:
A new employee joins the business
At this stage, your employee is a blank canvas as far as your brand is concerned. They need educating, from scratch, as to what your brand is all about. You might present them with a staff handbook or ‘brand bible’; you might run a presentation; you might organise a tour of the business and one-to-one meetings with other members of staff. But by the end of whichever processes you choose, your new member of staff should not only understand the fundamentals of your brand and their own responsibilities in maintaining it (the tone of voice they should use, the business description they should cite and so on) – they should also know exactly where to go if they have further questions.
This stage is absolutely key in setting a foundation for employee commitment to your brand – so if you didn’t have a procedure in place when some staff joined the business, it’s always worth revisiting them and issuing them with new brand documentation as you develop it.
An existing employee carries out their day-to-day duties
Employees should be regularly ‘re-introduced’ to your brand, and their relationship with it strengthened. Again, a variety of techniques are available. If your business is an appropriate size, regular all-staff meetings, or at least all-department meetings, are one of the most powerful ways of reinforcing the company brand and introducing any updates or changes. Company newsletters or emails celebrating success are a well-established means of generating pride and a sense of community behind a single brand. And don’t forget about the ‘softer’ aspects of reinforcing internal brand loyalty, like running employee events and socials.
Of course, major changes to the business brand will require a more specialist change management programme, and unless you have experience in this area, it’s probably something to outsource.
Above all, it’s vital to remember that as the business leader, you have overall responsibility for ‘living your brand’ and setting an example.
An employee leaves the business
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your brand has no role to play during the procedures for staff leaving your company. Employees who are moving on to pastures new are actually some of your most crucial brand ambassadors; if their leaving procedures are handled badly and they are left with a negative impression of your business, then the reputational repercussions can be severe. Take the time and make the effort to ensure that the leaving process is supportive and in keeping with your company ethos.