Understanding brand expression through your people
What does ‘people and company brand alignment’ make you think of?
Maybe it’s how well you recruit for people who align with the values of your company brand.
To me it means how well your people understand, represent and communicate your brand.
How well they embody the brand at every touch point with your stakeholders and targets… be it in person, on the phone or online.
And yes, the extent to which they feel aligned with what the brand stands for is part of this… how proud they are of the company brand they represent, and how mindfully and skilfully they can align their personal brands with the company brand.
But is this something you hear about all the time? Is it something your board or leadership team have given much thought to?
There is evidence everywhere of companies that have not given adequate thought or resources to how powerfully and consistently their people represent the company brand.
- The professional who is unsure how to position themselves and their organisation confidently when talking with people at networking events.
- Your new managers who know they have to rework their LinkedIn profiles to adequately represent their elevated role at your company, but need further support on exactly how to do this professionally.
- The promising new grad who, after a year at your company, can’t easily explain the company’s core values when asked.
- Your receptionist failing to immediately look up from his or her work to greet the potential new client, who stands there awkwardly waiting to be acknowledged… and already forming a lacklustre first impression.
- The content writer you’ve outsourced coming up with your company’s social media posts… that prove hit-and-miss when it comes to your brand.
- Staff who regularly communicate with clients via email… but have a less than professional way of writing or scheduling their communications.
- Almost everyone in your company using social media in their personal lives… all of them failing to realise just how little privacy there is online… and sometimes talking about work in informal, very public settings.
These are just a few of the ways team members can build or break down your audience’s impression of your brand, and just a few of the issues I’ve seen as a customer or that clients have asked me to work with them on. I’m sure you can think of many more.
Create a ‘net’ to catch brand impressions
Because there are so many ways your people express something about your brand, it’s important to create a ‘net’ where you can catch all the touch points in order to assess them and address the aspects that aren’t serving your purpose. I have recently been developing assessment tools companies can use to start to look at this problem, and in 2019 I’m looking forward to running short workshops with leadership teams to explain how they can approach their ‘people and company brand alignment’.
You may ask, when it comes to aligning with the company brand, ‘What’s in it for them?’ Why would your staff make an effort to think about the brand they represent and do a better job of it?
This comes down to your approach – and it should be an empowering one. Standards and expectations are important, but laying down a set of rules and using fear tactics to enforce them is, as I’m sure you’ll agree, largely useless.
Your people want to step up their personal brands and feel confident about who they are in business. They want to feel they are doing a great job and achieving in their careers. When teams are shown how attention to brand expression helps them achieve more and feel great about their work, and when given the time and tools to develop in this area, they respond really positively – I’ve seen it again and again.
In 2019, do you need to think more about your people power, alongside the innovation and technology you’ve been focusing on of late?
…after all, people still do business with people.