MindFire Communications, Inc.
Employee engagement is vital to a strong brand
September 20, 2011 | Lynn Manternach, Ph.D.

If employees don’t understand and believe in your organization’s brand, they can’t deliver on the brand promise. And you can’t deliver on the brand promise without their help.

Internal brand engagement is a cost-effective strategy that will lift your brand and your organization to new levels of success. Employees are an organization’s best brand ambassadors. They have the power to move the organization forward, and bring the brand to life in ways that matter.

Every time a customer interacts with your organization, there is an opportunity to build your brand through your employees. The experience your employee delivers to your customers will determine the ongoing perception and reputation of your brand.

This is especially true in service-focused organizations, as well as organizations that compete in commoditized industries. Your employees can – and should – be one of your organization’s key differentiators.

When you take the time to build and then manage your organization’s reputation from the inside out, you will have an entire workforce acting as ambassadors for your brand. That allows you to capitalize on word-of-mouth and buzz building.

But this isn’t just about your external brand image. It’s also about your bottom line. According to Gallup Research, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 9.57:1 in world-class organizations. In average organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 1.83:1. When organizations increase the engagement of employees, rapid and sustainable growth becomes more possible.

So how do you go about building a team of engaged employees?

Start by making sure you clearly understand your organization’s brand and the promise behind that brand. Take the time to do this right. It is the foundation for your success.

Make sure your CEO and top executives are on board. If senior management considers employee engagement something that belongs to HR or Internal Communications, the program will not be successful. Leadership has to walk the walk. If they don’t, employees won’t either.

Next, focus on building the brand internally. This is an organization-wide, ongoing process. The brand and the brand promise should be linked to job descriptions, training programs, employee evaluations, meetings and events.

Develop an effective brand education program that goes into detail about the brand’s position, personality, promise and benefits. If the brand was built on customer and employee insight, share that insight with employees so they understand how the brand promise was developed and how it reflects the company’s reputation both internally and externally. Employees can’t deliver on the brand promise if they don’t understand what it is, and their role in delivering the promise through their work every day.

Create an internal cross-functional "Brand Team.” Make them responsible for making sure every employee receives initial as well as ongoing education as your brand evolves and grows over time. Employees should read, hear, see or feel something every day that represents your brand promise. When employees truly understand and connect to a brand’s goals, personality and promise, they become brand ambassadors. Immersion is the key to creating a brand-centric culture and engaged employees.

Market to employees like customers. Take the time to build a comprehensive internal brand and engagement plan. Use traditional tools, like posters and employee publications. But don’t stop there. Make it viral, interactive, and hands-on. Make it engaging.

Make sure your employees work in an environment that supports your brand promise. If you expect them to deliver a high level of customer service, demonstrate those qualities in your interactions with employees. The employee experience will impact your customers’ experience. If you are good to your employees, it is much more likely that they will be good to your customers. Delivering an on-brand employee experience builds employee morale and motivation, improves employee retention, and increases employee engagement.

Engaged employees are happier and more productive. They want to understand the higher purpose for their work. They are looking for more than just a job, and your brand promise makes that possible. Taking the time to integrate your brand internally and engage employees offers benefits for all stakeholders, including customers, potential customers, employees and shareholders.

It’s time to get engaged.

This article originally appeared in the Corridor Business Journal.

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