You can have the best brand strategy ever devised, with the greatest marketing and the most-admired ad campaign running. But it all means nothing if your staff fail to create an experience that delivers on your brand’s promises.
In order for your brand to thrive, employees must be on-board. They must know what your brand stands for and how to live it out. Here are five things HR needs to do to help build your brand.
1. All-Staff Brand Orientation
Have you told your entire staff what your brand is about? Do they even know what a “brand” is?
Your HR department needs to create a program that immerses employees in the brand. Staff should know what a brand is and why branding is important. Most importantly, what does the brand mean to them? How does it affect their day-to-day interactions? What are they expected to do? Or do differently? (Hint: You know you have a strong brand strategy when it applies equally to both frontline- and back-office staff.)
A good place to start with Brand Orientation is with an all-staff event. But you don’t need to wait until you rename or rebrand to have a Brand Event. You can have one any time. In fact, you should probably have some sort of “refresher event” every few years.
The nice part about holding a staff Brand Event is that it requires you to make a set of materials about your brand. The mere process of creating these materials can bring new clarity and fresh insights to your brand strategy. Moreover, these materials can subsequently be used for Brand Initiation, the next item on HR’s list.
2. New Employee Brand Initiation
New employees are often given training when they are hired. They learn the organization’s processes and policies. There’s always someone who shows them the bathrooms and tells them about nearby restaurants for lunch.
But when new employees are hired, are they ever trained according to the brand? They need to be. This can be done one-on-one, or in groups quarterly.
One great way to expose new employees to the brand is to assign them mentors. These mentors can come from any department in the organization, as long as they are passionate about your brand and understand the importance of their responsibilities as Brand Mentor.
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3. Screening Prospects According to the Brand
If your organization has defined its core values, they should be used to screen applicants.
Say, for instance, one of your core values is “Teamwork.” You need interview questions that explore an applicant’s experience working in teams:
- Do you prefer working in a team? Or are you more comfortable working independently?
- Why do you like working in teams?
- What size team(s) are you most comfortable with?
- Have you ever been part of a team where something went wrong? Can you give me an example? What could have been done differently?
If you aren’t screening applicants according to your brand and its core values, what good are they?
4. Evaluating Employees According to the Brand
It’s this simple: If something isn’t measured and rewarded, it doesn’t matter. If you aren’t evaluating staff according to the brand and giving them incentives for on-brand behaviors, they won’t care.
Annual performance reviews are a good place to include brand evaluations, but staff need regular reinforcement. Once a year isn’t enough. HR needs to develop reward mechanisms and smaller, more frequent incentives that can be used on an on-going basis.
Cash isn’t the only reward either. You could offer a free lunch, a day off, a paid vacation, a parking space, etc. The best rewards reflect and support the brand. If you’re a green organization, for instance, you give certain on-brand employees a hybrid for some period of time (wrapped in the brand’s graphics, of course).
For some people, public acknowledgement goes a long way. Others just need a simple “thank you” to know their on-brand behaviors were recognized.
5. On-going Brand Training & Communications
You know the expression, “Out of sight, out of mind.” The same applies to branding. If staff aren’t hearing about- and learning more about your brand on a regular basis, they’ll forget about it.
What’s interesting is that many employees have an acute curiosity about their organization’s brand. They appreciate it when you take the time to explain the hows and whys of your various brand-building efforts. Everyone should know about current marketing efforts. Stories of on-brand experiences — from within the organization or without — should be shared. Sometimes staff are just curious about what’s going on in another department. Unfortunately when things get busy, internal communications are all too often one of the first things to fall by the wayside.
Reality Check: No matter how much brand information you’re sharing with staff, it probably isn’t enough.
The trick is finding the right communications mechanisms your staff will utilize. Intranet? Email? Newsletter? Social media tools like Facebook or even Twitter?