7 Ways to Engage Employees in Your Brand

A few techniques you might not have thought of to get your employees on the brand bandwagon.

Wendy Ruyle 2.9.2017

Branding to employees is a critical but often forgotten step. If you can’t convince the people within your organization that you have a remarkable product or service, you won’t convince the general public.

Your employees can gain your customer’s trust or lose it based on their enthusiasm for your organization, inside and outside of the workplace. According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, “Employees, on average, are trusted 16 points more than CEOs on messaging around employee/customer relations (53 percent), financial earnings (38 percent), crises (37 percent), innovation (33 percent), industry issues (32 percent) or programs addressing societal issues (30 percent).”

We’ve all seen the traditional way of branding to employees: a big company meeting where you explain the brand mission, vision, and values and then hand out some branded merchandise like a t-shirt or mug. All set, right? They’re ready to preach the gospel of your company. Wrong. They need more. They need to feel valued and connected. The message needs to feel authentic to who they are as people. What they see inside the company needs to match what they are expected to say outside it.

Here are 7 not-so-traditional ways to get your employees to “live the brand”:

  1. Find their strengths. When you present your brand attributes to employees, do an exercise to determine how each employee can use their own authentic traits and skills to support and deliver on that promise. The key word here is authentic. You should never be heavy-handed with employees or their promotion of you won’t ring true.
  2. Give them options. When you create branded merchandise, give your employees options and encourage them to give feedback on their favorite design. If they don’t like the way it looks, they won’t wear it or use it. Also, provide as many style options as you can afford. Women are more likely to wear a t-shirt cut for them. And make sure you have enough sizes available to fit all body types.
  3. Make your brand tools digital. Your employees need readily accessible tools to be able to commit your messaging to memory. Create online tools to make their jobs easier: templates, brand message checklists, elevator speeches, brand stories, brand guidelines, photo libraries, etc. If everyone has access to the same content, your message will be consistent.
  4. Create the right environment. Make your physical and cultural environment a reflection of your brand attributes. Visual cues will remind your employees daily of the big picture and why they do what they do. Company culture will let them know that it’s not just about the bottom line. You care about their well-being and want them to advance in their career.
  5. Get their perspective. Have your employees step out of their daily routine and interact with your brand as a consumer. Have them identify their likes and dislikes about each step of the brand journey. Walking a mile in your customers’ shoes will help them see what makes an ordinary transaction extraordinary and help you pinpoint areas you need to improve.
  6. Change their job for a day. Get your R&D team to help respond to complaints on Twitter or the 1-800 line to see what real product needs are. Get your sales team to shadow the production line or development team for a day. Have the teams talk together about the best way to respond to customer needs.
  7. Get feedback. Make sure you are the good employer you think you are. Put in place a bias-free system for employees to share any disconnects they have with company messaging. Be willing to change the way you do business or the way you promote your business if the two don’t match in your employees’ minds.

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