Your Most Powerful Branding Weapon? Your Employees
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Businesses spend billions each year on advertising and promoting their brand. One of the most powerful ways to market a business is through word of mouth, with the explosion in social media in recent years, the power of word of mouth is almost immeasurable.
An article, advert or update from a company that goes ‘viral’ can reach hundreds of millions of people in a very short space of time. One of the most important vehicles for your company’s marketing efforts are your employees, and particular effort should be made to ensure that they fully understand and are enthusiastic about your business’s brand message.
Why your employees are so important to your company brand message
If you’re in any doubt as to why ensuring your employees are aware of your brand message and keen to tell others about it, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who are the people that speak directly with your customers on a daily basis?
- Who are the people that will discuss their work day with others, both face to face and online, every day?
- Who are the people that, when asked what they do for a living, you want to answer enthusiastically and reiterate your brand messaging?
- Who are the people that can save your business thousands in recruitment fees by referring friends, family and contacts?
The answer to all of the above questions is “your employees”. Even the simple process of small talk is a medium by which your brand message can be reinforced, if your company culture encourages and nurtures your employees in such a way that they are keen to tell others.
In a similar vein, discussions and comments on social media play a large part in the majority of peoples lives. Social networks are not just an important channel for marketing departments during office hours, they’re just as important (if not more so) when employees are naturally saying the right things, for the right reasons, without being coaxed to do so by the business.
“As a company, you can’t buy this type of publicity. It’s generated organically from employees who are excited to be a part of the company. It has an impact on friends of the person posting, and is an influence of their view on the company.
No PR firm can generate this level of authenticity relating to your employer brand.” – ongig.com
Negative comments by employees can be devastating for a brand, for instance how many times have you read a friend’s update status which reads along the lines of “had a nightmare week at work, glad it’s over!”?
What message does this portray about that person’s employer and their brand? Now, compare that message with one which reads “another great week at work, x, y & z happened……..”, one message is clearly more positive and attractive where the brand is concerned.
Your employees will be speaking to existing clients throughout the working day; making sure that they are relaying the correct messaging is essential for a consistent, clear and positive company brand. How they speak to clients, how they deal with complaints and issues, and the service they offer are all part of your brand efforts and are critical to your success.
How can you make sure that your employees are aware of and enthusiastic about your brand message?
Firstly, your employees should be happy and enjoy their day at work, whether this is in or out of the office. Many initiatives and processes can be implemented to achieve a happy, productive and content workforce, such as:
- Wellness programmes – flu shots, sports, exercise etc
- Flexible working or a work from home policy
- Benefits – dental care, pension scheme, buy and sell holiday scheme, etc
- Social clubs, such as a dinner club, organised events, etc
- Internal communication through the use of an intranet and collaboration tools
The company brand message should be made clear to ALL employees, regardless of position, both verbally and in formal company documentation. All staff should be seen to live and practice those values and visions that the business’s brand highlights, and understand and believe in why those values are so important to the company.
Employees should be part of the company culture and what it represents. This can be encouraged by, among other things, actively rewarding employees for a job well done, sharing business successes and promoting career development.
Employees that believe in what the company does, and why it does it, are your best brand advocates, they’ll reinforce brand values both internally and with their friends, family and online contacts. Involve your workforce in decision-making processes, be seen to listen and act on suggestions made by employees at company meetings. Encourage and assist your employees to progress in their careers. This will mean an investment in both money and time, but it is just that, an investment.
Implementing and maintaining a company intranet is an excellent way to build a community within your business. Company announcements, documentation sharing and social integration can all be accommodated on an intranet, such as CIPHR Net. Collaboration is a crucial element where business success and employee satisfaction are concerned, implementing a system that can unite business functions will help to enforce a strong brand message among the workforce.
Onboarding is also important, to instill the company brand as early as possible where new employees are concerned. Ensuring that the applicant experience, induction process and employee’s career within the business flow as seamless and enjoyable as possible will improve wellbeing, satisfaction and productivity within your employee base – all great for branding and company culture.
What are the benefits of your employees being brand aware?
Remember how much print advertising used to be and, by comparison, how many people it realistically reached? Now compare that with the free advertising that the internet and, in particular, social media allows and it should be clear just how big the potential audience is that your branding can reach. Positive word of mouth from your employees will attract future talent, customers and business partners. This in turn saves on alternative marketing strategies, recruitment fees and research into potential partners.
The most important benefits of a long-term employer branding strategy
If you implement a referral scheme as part of your recruiting strategy, then a strong brand culture will also increase the likelihood of those candidates who are referred already being aware of (and agreeing with) your brand messaging and culture. The chances of these applicants having previously discussed the business are increased if employees are actively spreading positive messaging about the company within their social circles. Complementing a referral scheme with a monetary incentive will reduce the requirement to use recruitment agencies or online job boards.
Top talent will actively seek out the brands who stand above other businesses and are known to have strong employee and customer engagement and a unique culture. Making sure that your business attracts a higher calibre of talent will, in turn, improve employee retention rates and reduce turnover. In the current economic climate, minimising turnover and the costs associated therein is a priority for every business.
A strong, positive brand is almost always essential in order for business to survive, let alone grow. Investing your time and effort in making sure that your employees know your brand messaging is more important now than ever before.