Internal communicators have been rolling their eyes for a while now. Our organizations have finally awakened to the idea that employees make great external brand advocates.
Who better to promote your brand than the people that live it, day in, day out?
But sometimes that’s where the problems begin. Employee experience doesn’t always tally with the image organizations project. That’s why firms ask internal communicators to create an employee brand.
What exactly is an employee brand and how does it differ from an employer brand?
An employer brand is how potential hires perceive an organization. An employee brand is the experience of a person already in the organization.
Until recently many people thought of a brand as a color palette and an image library. It takes a lot of work to make people understand what an employee brand is, and how they can influence it and advocate it.
Before you get to that point, there are other considerations, such as: Should we treat it separately from an employer brand? Are we the right people to lead it? How do you identify what your employee brand is? And how do you measure the engagement of your workers with it?
It’s easy to be daunted by such a huge topic, so we put together some tips to get you thinking.
Involve your employees
We know, this is obvious. But not everyone gets this opportunity, especially if they work for an already established brand, where they focus on maintaining or increasing engagement and engaging new employees with the brand.
So if you’re re-branding or working for an infant company, you have a fantastic opportunity to shape an organization your employees want to work for and shout about, as well as give them a sense of brand ownership. If you work for a more established brand, make sure people still connect to it, find out what would increase their engagement and give employees the authority to make changes.
Tell a story
Every brand should have a story. We all know that Apple started through a friendship and passion for technology and that it strives to be in front of innovation that will change the way we live our lives. The latest Boots advert shows a company that does more than dispense drugs and sell beauty products. It listens to and supports its customers, making a difference in their lives.
By making the link between what your employees do and the impact it can have, you stand a far better chance of creating an engaged workforce proud to shout about who they work for.
Put yourselves in the customer’s shoes
A great way to get employees engaged with your brand is to literally put them in the (internal) customer’s shoes. Let employees from non-client-facing jobs answer customer calls for a morning, or let a call handler spend time with manufacturing or sales to understand what goes into making and selling to the consumer. Encourage employees to eat in your restaurants, visit your theme parks, try out your equipment.
Employees who empathize with a customer, and see the result of the work they do, are far more likely to live your brand values.
Translate the brand
A brand rarely means the same thing to everyone. It means different things to different people. Answering ‘what does it mean to me?’ is essential if workers are to understand how the brand affects their jobs day-to-day.
Take time to understand parts of the business and help them relate to the brand. Remember this story: JFK was visiting the NASA Space Center. He stopped a janitor and asked him what he did. The man replied that he was helping to put a man on the moon.
Invest in workshops so people get to grips with the brand, and role play what the brand might mean for them. Solicit their questions often to ensure that employees get consistent guidance and support. Just because your workforce engaged with your brand doesn’t mean they’re comfortable shouting about it. And that’s OK. For many, their part in the employee brand will be living it and ensuring that what you tell the outside world reflects internal realities.
Those active on social media have a fantastic opportunity to help promote your business. Arrange social media training. Remind people of the social media policy. Teach them how to use social media to best effect. Tell them you will work with them to share messages.
A version of this article first appeared on Alive With Ideas.