Connecting Employees and The Company’s Brand

“Employees engage with employers and brands when they’re treated as humans worthy of respect.” – Meghan Biro

With the competition becoming fiercer and cutthroat, companies need everyone working therein to pull their weight not just for their own particular job roles, but also in the realms of customer service and branding. Let’s face it – whatever the employees of a company say about it, would be extremely relevant and people would tend to believe the employees. Hence, for a company’s brand to become and remain successful, connecting employees to the brand has become critical. When we say connecting employees, we mean making brand advocates out of them, ensuring that they speak highly of the company and the brand, and provide the best kind of customer service to the company’s customers because they feel warmly towards it.

While surveys reveal that at least 90% of companies said that they were connecting employees and engaging them in brand advocacy or were planning to do so in the near future. However, ironically another study revealed that in several companies, employee engagement continued to be low, with only one in every three saying that they trusted their company and that the company cared for them. When the fundamentals of trust and care are missing, connecting employees to the company’s brand is sure to be a lost cause. Just as providing top service to external customers is imperative companies must understand that employees are equally critical to their success. They must constantly ascertain what their employees think about the brand, whether employees like working in the company, do they feel a sense of security and trust towards the company’s leadership, and would they willingly support the short and long-term goals of the company.

In order to ensure success of their promotional and marketing campaigns, connecting employees to the company’s brand would be the first step. In order to know what customers feel, companies use feedback surveys – that is they simply ask customers what they feel. In the same way, to get a handle on how engaged employees feel with the company, the best way is to ask. The system of feedback however, must be consistent, specific, relevant, and should encourage and enhance employee engagement. Connecting employees to the company’s brand and ideals is not a given or something that would happen overnight. In order to get clear and transparent answers and feedback, companies must first exhibit integrity and transparency in their dealings with their employees. The leaders of the company must constantly display a willingness to listen to what employees have to say, and act on the relevant suggestions. Doing so consistently, will not only serve to guide employee behaviour, but would also close the trust gap between employees and management.

Before connecting employees with the company’s brand, it would be necessary to understand what areas interest employees and what they consider important and quintessential to encouraging commitment from them. When a company can gain such understanding, they would not only be able to market the company better, but also their promotional campaigns would reflect the true essence of the company, and therefore be a lot more effective in and relevant for the target customers. The purpose of connecting employees to the brand is that it is through their efforts the brand would come alive and customers would see it in the way the company hopes to portray it. When putting together a branding strategy, companies must be mindful of the profound role that employees can play in making a brand stand out and appear distinctive.

Connecting employees to the brand is the key purpose of internal marketing. By making a connection with employees, they would be able to provide invaluable suggestions on how and to whom the company should sell the products / brand. Connecting employees to the company’s brand is about getting them aligned with the expectations the company would be setting for customers through the branding exercises. Employees are the ones who would be responsible for helping the company to either come true on the expectations or falter on them repeatedly. Employees must feel one with the brand – they must feel for the brand, since disengaged employees would bring more harm than value to the company and its brand.

When people care about their company and its brand, they feel happy to come in to work each day, are motivated to put in their very best, their loyalty increases, and they are more likely to work cohesively and without conflicts with their co-workers. When a company succeeds in connecting employees, the employees would remain united and inspired with a common sense of identity, purpose, and goals. Unfortunately, companies tend to forget this crucial aspect, and undermine the importance of ‘convincing’ employees of the essence and power of the company’s brand. Additionally, the departments responsible to spread awareness and put out relevant internal communications are usually not skilled enough to bridge the divide between employees and the brand. What does happen though is a ‘talking down to’ employees through memos, newsletters, the intranet, and other means – allowing no leeway or way for employees to communicate their thoughts, feelings, and opinions about the company and the brand they are expected to support and ‘market’. There seems to be no attempt at connecting employees to the company’s brand – it is more forcing the concepts at brands at them.

For effectively connecting employees to the company’s brand, companies must apply the same rules as are relevant when advertising to external customers. This would lead to a better understand of and even passion for the brand on the part of employees. The idea is to get employees to ‘live’ the brand, while working in the office and outside. Employees that carry the vision and brand of the company are more likely to be more convincing and effectively spread the benefits of the brand when speaking to existing and prospective customers of the company.

Everyone resists change for one reason or another. Branding and connecting exercises for employees would meet the same fate unless the company seeks advice and opinions from the employees from the start. By bringing everyone ‘on board’ from the start, employees would be a lot more receptive to the changes, and would in fact be amenable to provide solutions and accept the guidelines from the company. The fact is that trust, engagement, and connection are not things that can be bought or forced – they would need to be inculcated and encouraged through sensible initiatives, which would take time, effort, and may be even have some monetary implications. However, at the end, the company’s efforts and resources would bring it a lot many benefits, which would more than justify their investment.

For connecting employees to the company’s brand, a company must make the effort to weave the brand’s message and essence into the everyday operations and work life of the employees. Spreading the brand to others, should become instinctive and a happy habit for employees, thus making them effective marketing personnel and brand ambassadors of the company. The fact is that a company must care about its employees as much as it cares about its customers and business – for it is employees that would serve customers and take the business to the next level. Treat employees poorly, and you could be digging your own grave. Focus on connecting employees to the company and the brand, and they would become the company’s most potent ‘tool and weapon’, contributing to its success at every step.

 

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