30 SEP. 2017
Building Nimbler, More Responsive Brands from the Inside Out
Corporate Branding Associate Director
“No matter the industry or the fact that a brand is product or service, B2B, B2C, or B2B2C-oriented, its brand promise lives and dies by its employees and their ability to consistently act on it.”
Your company’s internal stakeholders are the most important and immediate expression of your brand. Ensuring these stakeholders are equipped with a deep understanding of your brand is the first measure of success for any company. Internal brand alignment should never be taken for granted, and never in times of internal disruption of some sort, e.g. during an M&A and/ or rebranding.
But for employees to understand the brand just in theory alone is not enough. They should be able to apply this understanding in original contexts, to collaborative situations that are uncharted. The brand program should be living through the employees.
So one of the predominant challenges to activate the business strategy and consistent delivery of the brand promise seems to be a matter that is common for many companies: “How to not only align and engage your employees, but also to shape a company into a group of invested brand ambassadors that can bring the value of the brand alive in new situations?”
In this article, answers will be given on how to build capacity within client organizations to align on, mobilize towards, and ultimately deliver powerful brand experiences, inside and out. Experiences that leverage the positive power of a brand.
Cultivate Brand-Savvy Leaders
Internal brand alignment is the process in which a company ensures that all of its functional and operational groups are aligned around a consistent message as well as identity; and that the brand actions, culture and behaviors are a prolongation of this message.
It all starts at the top as you cannot expect the workforce to be aligned if their top management is far removed. A way to guarantee this clarity is either to have top management play an active part in the development and training of the brand strategy and positioning or aligning them via brand leadership coaching.
For example, when the brand’s management is involved in the creation of a brand’s strategy, ideally by way of a structured brand program, there is an immediate buy-in secured as they are invested in the cause. As a result, they will naturally embody the brand identity and thus are better in inspiring the whole organization to behave in ways aligned with the brand strategy, especially in times of change.
Journey Towards Invested Brand Ambassadors
As the management consultancy Gallup stated, a highly-engaged workforce leads to higher sales growth, higher margins, and higher customer satisfaction and loyalty. It is essential that every person inside an organization has a deep-understanding on how their role contributes to, and has impact on values and success of a company.
But how does a brand achieve that? How do we involve and inspire employees to be passionate in representing their company and even going beyond ‘just’ delivering on that brand consistency?
Employee engagement, often advocated by HR, focuses on the individual employee and provide solutions to educate, inspire, and mobilize employees around a common vision and culture and traditionally reinforces the appropriate behavior for a better-aligned organization. However, to create and maintain an environment where employees and internal stakeholders are equipped to go above and beyond towards highly adaptive behaviors that deliver impactful brand experiences, it is essential for them to be motivated in way that does not add onto their ‘to-do lists’.
To tackle this challenge, structurally inserting an engagement program into the daily organization is the starting point.
A successful program is much more than a mere top-down training and typically offer ways for employees to apply and practice brand leadership competency to activate the brand internally and externally. Employees will be coached towards working with a brand-lead mindset on various actions already in their roadmap, and that are identified as suitable occasions to practice the brand leadership competency. A new product development, content strategy, CRM specifications are all example of possible brand actions that can be used for such a program. These structural engagement programs can be found especially important following a merger or rebranding, naturally being integrated into the roadmaps.
The more engaging and compelling the branding program is, the more likely it is to be absorbed by employees. The ultimate goal is to elevate the brand leadership competency across the organization, meaning each employee actively plays their role and contribute in the deployment of the brand at every step of the creation of value.
However, unless all actions are coordinated with the brand strategy and communication efforts, there is a risk that functional silos would still exist, which hinders the development of highly adaptive behaviors that deliver impactful and authentic experience to the customers. It requires a highly determined effort by a cross-functional group, including members of the executive team, brand team and HR, who proactively drive such programs throughout the organization.
The Takeaway: Don’t tell, live
By investing in your internal stakeholders through the means of a structurally implemented engagement program, you equip and mobilize them to become active brand ambassadors in a planned timeframe determined to deliver value - original and authentic brand experiences build trust and create enduring, purposeful brand-consumer relationships.
It is no longer enough to simply tell your brand story–you must live your brand promise from the inside-out.
It is an ongoing process that requires constant maintenance and reinforcement. Start now to Educate, Inspire and Mobilize your brand ambassadors.
This is the only way to create a nimbler, more responsive brand where silos and barriers are broken down, and brand leadership competency is elevated throughout the organization so it can stand tall and cut through today’s crowded global market.
Want to learn more about how Labbrand is building these systematic and brand-led programs together with brands across departments and geographies?
Get in touch!