Time to update your brand! You’ve had a merger and acquisition. Your company changed its name. The mission, vision or values of your company changed. Maybe your organization has merely evolved past its old brand. It’s a big step and there’s typically a lot to do.
But the biggest and most overlooked task is ensuring employees understand the brand.
They’ll need to interpret the brand in their daily interactions and decisions. Making sure they have a solid foundation goes a long way.
What is brand
In Marketing, people live and breathe the brand — it’s everything. But outside the Marketing department, there can be misconceptions.
Brand is the delivery of the promise your organization makes to customers.
Logos, taglines, color palette — they’re important, but they serve the brand. They’re the graphical and textual representation of the brand itself. At the heart of brand is what your organization does, the products and services it provides, and how what makes it unique.
For example, consider the misconceptions about Nike. People may know the logo, the swoosh, or the tagline, “Just do it.” But people may not discuss the customer service they receive when buying a pair of Nike shoes, from their outlet store to the Foot Locker in the mall. They may not think about how they feel running.
But as you know, those are all ingredients of the brand. How someone feels running or purchasing the shoes has a more significant impact than whether there’s a swish or not. The graphical representation is more to indicate quality and that experience. After all, how someone feels running and purchasing the shoes plays a more prominent role in the perception of that brand. Had a great buying experience? Shoes lasted a while? You probably have a good brand experience.
Why help employees understand
The more we love a brand, the more we’re ambassadors for that brand. We tell our friends and family about the brand. We buy it. We even purchase it for others. Maybe we engage on social media or the company’s website.
Starbucks has a great brand, whether you like their coffee or not. Employees wear the traditional white and green garb as you listen to cool music, the scent of coffee beans wafting through the air. Employees are smiling as they call out your name, handing you a consistent cup of joe. You can tell they like being there and that impacts how you feel about the place.
When we’re in love with a brand, there’s an enthusiasm we have that’s infectious. In a perfect world, your employees can have that about your organization and the services or products it makes.
Where to start with employees: values
Your values are the place the start as they help employees and partners understand the behaviors you want to be displayed. Employees may not realize that brand and values are one in the same, but they know the term values — the set of desired behaviors that make up organizational culture.
Marry your brand and values together. Think about how the values can reinforce the brand.
For example, if your organization is known for being innovative and friendly, those should be values your employees adopt to ensure the brand is delivered.
1. Align values and brand to strategy
As you’re rolling out a new brand, it’s essential to align the brand and values to your overall strategy. Some of deciding what happens next is how much your culture needs to change. For example, if to compete your values are undergoing radical changes, you may want to set a longer-term strategy for values and brand with shorter, interim steps.
Alignment should include:
- How do the brand and values meet short-term and long-term strategy?
- Will the brand and values enable employees to meet important goals?
- Are the values enabling your organization to compete better and serve your customers better?
- How will you be able to measure demonstration of those values?
- Is your workforce ready for the new values and brand?
- How does the new brand and values impact hiring and retention?
- Do you have the right rewards and recognition programs in place for the brand and values?
- Do you have a hub where brand and values can live?
- What are the tactics you’ll use to ensure new hires and existing employees understand what’s expected of them?
2. Hire and retain employees
People’s personalities can have a natural affinity to your organization’s values. Those people who reflect those values should be hired. Do they need to have every desired value? That’s up to your organization. For example, though your value may be positivity, your quality assurance team may need to temper some of that enthusiasm with reality. Where you deviate know why.
With changed values, you don’t need to hire a completely different group of people. Employees can be adapt.
By having clear values and behaviors, employees will know how to deliver on the brand promise.
3. Educate and communicate
Whether it’s a new employee or an existing one, they should be trained on the values and brand. The goal is — to understand the values and know, on a daily basis, what the right choice is.
That’s where communication and education come in. Here are a few ideas on how to get employees onboard with the brand:
- Communicate what the brand and values are through meetings, emails and on your intranet. Both values and brand deserve spots on your intranet that communicate what they are and why employees should care.
- Train employees. Make the class or classes — even if online — fun and engaging. Give examples of how you want people to behave. Have some of them be peer-led. Create some that ask managers to step in where they have expertise. The more people in your organization that can own these brand and values classes, the more that brand and values knowledge will permeate your organization.
- Build a coalition. Get important stakeholders more involved, such as HR, IT and Internal Communications.
- Internal Communications can leverage brand language in company news and announcements. They can help get customer stories online, too.
- HR can align employee behaviors with the brand, including in employee reviews and reward programs.
- IT can ensure email and other technologies have the right brand associated.
- Incorporate reviews. If you have performance reviews, you may want to include behaviors in them. It’s important employees achieve goals, but it’s also important how they achieve them.
- Recognize and reward employees when they demonstrate the brand, spotlighting them on your brand and values intranet sites as well as in your intranet news. Also, consider a way for employees to acknowledge each other. ElevatePoint enables employees to submit kudos through their intranet.
- Enlist managers and leaders to lead. They should be reinforcing and correcting behaviors. Managers and leaders should be communicating about the brand and values regularly as well as educating. Plus, managers and leaders should also demonstrate the values you want employees to emulate.
- Reinforce brand and values. Many of the suggestions above include reinforcing the values, such as rewards programs and getting managers to cascade information. Think of brand changes not as a sprint, but a marathon. You’ll need more than one communication — meeting, email, intranet page, intranet news — from more than one source — intranet, manager, executive, etc. Typically, it takes 5 – 7 times for someone to fully understand new information. The bigger the change, the more reinforcement you’ll need.
When all these forces come together — alignment, employees, education and communication — you’ll have a workforce that understands the brand and how they can make decisions daily that demonstrate that. Need your remote employees to better understand the brand? Download this free eBook on improving communication among remote workers.