You know it’s going to be a tough sell when you have to explain to management that you don’t mean THAT kind of employee branding.
It’s the newest greatest re-discovery of an idea since vinyl records: Employees ARE the company’s brand.
A cool logo and catchy slogan are a good start – they may get people in the door, but are they enough to bring you back? With exception to label-whores, I would say that poor customer service experience or crappy products will reduce the possibility of a customer returning to your business. No matter how interactive your website is.
As an employer, it’s not enough to just pay people to do their work. Why? Because all you will get are people doing the work. Nothing more. And that will be enough for you to maintain a marginal status.
To move beyond this, you need to create a culture and environment that will allow employees to do more than just their job. Of course, I’m not talking about pool tables and cappuccino bars in the staff lounge. By culture and environment, I mean that you find and hire people who already believe what you are trying to sell / provide. People that bring to the office all those intangibles that you can’t teach them. Pride, respect, drive.
Bring in people like this, teach them the business, and reinforce the values and remind them that they are the face and voice of the organization. And once you are done teaching them and telling them all this – YOU have to do it too. After all, nothing will kill the culture faster than an hypocritical leader.
There is a lot of talk about branding these days. Individuals are encouraged to come up with their own personal brand – live it, speak it, tweet it, Instagram it, FB-it. Make it real. Make it authentic. Make it you!
Do you know how hard it is to be real and authentic in a digital environment? I know there are many out there that are successful at this and perhaps they will roll their eyes at me for saying otherwise, but it’s not that easy. Particularly if you have brand-conflicts.
What happens if I go through the self-analysis to develop my own brand, which is real, authentic and me, but it’s at odds with my employer’s brand. As an employee, I need to be the organization’s brand…but I’m my own brand…and now I’m sitting here in front of Twitter, poised to send out a Tweet and I don’t know which voice to use. So, I blend them together as best as I can, but the results is that both are slightly diluted and neither are truly authentic.
This a challenge that I recently experienced when I was blogging at the HRPA Conference. I have my “Accidental HR” brand which is pretty me rambling on and my thoughts are generally fueled by some strong emotion (or red wine). This, I wisely surmised, was not really reflective of what the HRPA people would be expecting. So, I had to think about how I could embody this new brand, but still incorporate myself. I struggled and my writing reflected this – it was forced and did not feel like me. It was me on HRPA (kids…don’t do HR).
And so we go back to the organization and we struggle at getting our brand out there – making sure it’s recognized, making sure it’s positive. And many in the leadership sect have learned that it goes beyond the logo and that’s the people, the experience that is the true brand…so they invest a lot into ensuring that their people are embodying the brand that they want to project.
Let me ask you, have you ever tried to put a sweater on a cat?
Apparently it can be done, but I’m not sure how easy a process it is or how happy the cat is wearing the sweater. I’m pretty confident that this cat is not going to be cool with projecting the image you want it to.
And so, when it comes to your organization – you need to start with the right people before you start handing out the sweaters. As Scott Stratten puts it: the best marketing you can do is to hire great people. You need people who want to be there, people who want to do what you want them to do, people who want to wear the sweater.
Consider this the ultimate in brand-alignment. Start with the right people, take the time to find them, and you won’t have to develop a 12-week branding training session for your new hires. Or find a branding iron with your logo on it.