As it’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air…. I find it fitting to start a series of posts based on the theme of my blog: Igniting Love of the Brand.
I’ll start by asking the question, how. How do you ignite this love of your brand? How do you fuel it? In the next few blog posts, I’m going to explore just how to do that. I think most of this is common sense and when you read it, you’ll nod your head and agree. But, I challenge us to not just cursorily read it, but to actually apply it (that includes me).
1. The love of the brand comes from within.
A previous post I wrote Putting Heart into Internal Communications speaks to solid internal communications as the foundation for building a brand others are passionate about. Look, bottom line, love of the brand and love of the brand’s products and/or services all starts with the C-suite, trickles down to the employees, then from there reaches the customers. Most CEOs have passion, drive, and direction for the company. But, there are those executives who have checked out and rely on others for progress and operations. It’s a shame really. Senior management must be engaged and committed to not only seeing success but knowing how to cultivate it.
I should add an assumption here. I’m assuming the product, service, deliverable – what the company is selling and stands upon – is one that is in demand, made well, and actually legit for the employees to corral around. I guess if the CEO is trying to fuel love of the brand’s products, but the actual products are not good, poorly executed, or just a mess, then that company has bigger problems than figuring out how to make others excited about what they’re selling.
So, at the top – what can you do to motivate and excite your staff? This is where the PR professional/department can come in. This is where they shine. They support the senior team (and may in fact be part of the senior team) in disseminating company information and cultivating morale. Some companies have a division dedicated to only internal comm or some have one person doing both internal/external.
Here are some ways to create internal brand believers (and this can apply to managers at any level really, not just the executives). Also, if you’d like more tangible examples, email me.
- A clear-cut elevator pitch. My sister previously worked at a healthcare system and shared this with me: “Marketing taught us exactly what our three points/aims were for the next 3 years. So that when I was in our own hospital elevators or out in the community I had three clear, distinct things to say about the hospital. Plus, it made me proud and knowledgeable too.” Ah, yes, clear, concise communication – nothing like it.
- Knowledge is power. Weekly memos from the CEO, quarterly staff meetings, or virtual video conferences are vital to communicating the game plan and overall direction of the company. The more leadership can divulge about the state of the company and the vision for the future, the more engaged the employees will be.
- MBWA – remember that from business school – it actually works. Management By Walking Around: go shake some hands and talk to the staff like you mean it. If your employees are remote, individual phone calls throughout the week to say hey and check-in will do the trick.
- Offer perks for being an employee. Take a sneak peek into the perks for being a Google employee in the article Inside Google’s Culture of Success and Employee Happiness. Can we say – free dry cleaning, hair cuts, and massages – um, yes, please. The pros for working at Google are no joke, and I’m not saying your company needs to have similar elaborate benefits, but a couple may just go a long way in the area of employee retention.
- Have I.T. set-up an intranet where employees can go for all internal information (company overview slide deck, HR + accounting forms, forums for discussion, etc.)
- Performance reviews in a timely manner from senior leadership (and not just at the end of the year).
- Congratulate and praise achievements of staff internally. This can be as simple as having a bulletin board in the copy room encouraging the staff to highlight a colleague’s success/accomplishment on a 4×6 card and pinning it up for all to see. I feel the article on Forbes.com titled New Research Unlocks the Secret of Employee Recognition is spot on and encourages companies to “make recognition easy and frequent.”
And through all this, there is one underlying point. Be personal. There’s nothing like the personal touch to inspire and motivate. For instance, in the weekly memos from the CEO share real life/relatable stories. It’s the personal stuff, the inspiring stuff, the global stuff that helps employees with even the most mundane of tasks be reminded of the bigger picture of the company’s mission.
The employees are the arms and legs of the company…they create movement + action. They are the extension of the brand. They are your brand ambassadors. If they aren’t into what you’re selling, it’s going to be a struggle. Don’t get me wrong, the company can be profitable, it just may be a fight to get there.
How do you get employees to advocate on behalf of the brand? Hire the right ones.
Hire people who are passionate about what the company does. This is where HR comes in, obviously, to put together a list of criteria for the “ideal employee” – refuse to settle or stray from the list. Don’t hire haphazardly; take time to ensure it’s the right decision. That does both the company and the applicant a favor. For example, a story reported back in 2007 revealed the Container Store conducted group interviews as part of their hiring process to get a feel for how the individuals act in a team setting. Karyn Maynard, their recruiting manager, was quoted as saying: “The benefit of taking time is finding more productive, more committed and more enthusiastic people which then results in lower turnover.”
If there are current employees who aren’t team players, it’s going to drain the business. Slowly and surely those who no longer support the value of the brand will infect it and in order to cure it, they need to move on.
Putting together an internal brand army by creating an engaged workforce is key to making brand believers out of your customers.
2. The love of the brand is fueled by the customers.
…but how do you get them involved and as passionate about the brand as the senior staff and the employees?
If you’re working at Mayfield —– you’re probably going to be a fan of their dairy products. How do you get those who don’t work at Mayfield to be a fan? How do you get others to come on board with you? “Brand boarding” coming up in the next blog post….
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