Why and how marketers should help build employee brand engagement

Consumers value the endorsement of an organization’s own people, so external communicators should focus inward to cultivate favorable sentiment among the staff. Here’s some guidance.

Employee brand engagement

Employee brand engagement correlates with far more than increased productivity.

Engaged employees are less likely to leave their companies, more likely to deliver great customer experiences, and more efficient than their disengaged counterparts.

For example, one grocery chain champions a health-conscious lifestyle and a charitable spirit (consistent with the essence of its brand), which helps employees feel connected to more than their paychecks.

Employee brand engagement in practice

Employee brand engagement refers to how companies shape their work environments to keep even the smallest actions consistent with their brand identity. This is distinct from employer branding, which focuses more on shaping how external job candidates view the company as a potential employer.

For employee brand engagement, marketers must focus internally to influence how their organizations train, communicate with and motivate employees to align their daily work with the organization’s purpose. After all, how can an organization establish positive impressions for external audiences if internal audiences don’t embody positive, accurate perceptions of that brand?

Engaged employees can be some of the most effective marketing resources. Today’s consumers don’t trust traditional advertising, but many are willing to trust employees. The 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer found that about half (49 percent) of consumers believe employees are a credible source of information about their employers.

As distrust of direct messaging increases, trust in individuals—even those with direct ties to brands—grows.

Inspiring internal brand advocacy

Once marketers understand that all employees should align with their brands, they must address the two components of engagement that foster alignment: content and processes.

Content increasingly includes the concept of brand story—a tool that can be as powerful internally as it is externally. Marketers spend so much time persuading consumers to listen to their stories they often forget about their internal audiences. They must give employees tangible materials that make the story real for them, too.

Two additional content tools that work well for internal audiences:

  • An employee value proposition communicates why the brand should matter to employees (in a manner consistent with the external-facing brand value proposition).
  • Brand playbooks establish guidelines on how employees should live the brand and which activities fall within brand parameters. Effective playbooks address everything from day-to-day interactions among employees to social media best practices.

Processes refers to how marketers deliver content to employees. Emails, town hall meetings, formal training—everything should be chosen based on what works best with company culture. An effective brand engagement process isn’t a one-off session, but continual efforts that progress to keep the brand fresh in employees’ minds.

Executed well, this vital component of brand strategy can deepen employees’ relationship with their organization and increase customer satisfaction.

Mitch Duckler is managing partner at FullSurge. A version of this post first appeared on MediaPost.

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