Step 2: winning externally, starting internally

Welcome to my third blog of a seven-part series, in which I explain how to build a strong brand, a lovemark, step-by-step. This blog is about the second step, the internal implementation of your brand strategy, the brand promise. In the second blog of this series, I told you all about what a brand promise is en how you can build this.

Include your employees
Once the brand promise has been made clear, it is of the utmost importance to implement the brand promise in all levels of the organisation. This means that you must inspire your employees to make an effective contribution to fulfilling the brand promise. Clearing the way to become and remain a strong brand as an organisation. It is stated that only 20% of the brand experience comes from marketing and communication, and 80% from behaviour. So: to win externally, you must start internally. This applies to all organisations – small and large. For larger organisations, this becomes more complex, and a correct approach is crucial.

Discussion point
When you talk to HRM professionals, they all have different ideas about the best way to start. One says: “formulate your mission, vision and goals together with your people.” This way, it comes from the people and is supported automatically. Others do what management instructs them to do, sending out some papers, throwing it on the intranet and leaving the communication department to deal with the rest. In fact, both ways are not very efficient. In both ways, the intended goal is okay, but the road to achieve it is a bit more complex.

Below I will explain what, in my modest opinion, works best in all types of organisations. And no, I did not study for it, but I did talk to various experts and gained a great deal of experience within large and small organisations where this problem occurred. In other words, the research is good.

One approach can be…
With all due respect, it is not always in the best interest of the organisation to have (all) employees think about the fundamentals. And in practical terms, as a large organisation, it is very difficult to involve everyone in this process. And yet, you still want participation, solidarity. I believe that this can be achieved in the following ways.

1) Selecting the right team for the brand promise. As management, look critically at the team you want to put together. The most powerful brand promise is one that is built on a solid internal base, focusing outwards, making sure it is understood by external parties with the right profile. The promise must also come across as being authentic and achievable. Read more about it in my blog about building a brand promise.

2) Presenting the brand promise on a large scale to the entire organisation and allowing every employee to work on it by looking at his or her own individual role and what he or she can contribute to the realisation of the brand promise. This can be done in groups led by a manager or an independent person (sometimes better because a manager has his own interests that can be an obstacle) in larger organisations. In small organisations, with shorter lines of communication, the management is much more closely involved. However, it is still smart to present it properly, preferably with possibilities for interaction.

3) Letting the employee think carefully about what he or she needs to deliver outstanding performances and offering the tools that are needed to do so. Offer training when necessary. Keep in mind that the training sessions should deliver the same message and contribute to the brand promise, and not drifting in a complete opposite direction.

4) Including the brand performance in the performance cycle, such as POP, performance and assessment interviews. Let people think about what their role should be and what goals are linked to it, to build, achieve and deliver on the brand promise. When you instil a certain pride, this often happens naturally.

5) Organising follow-up and reflection days. Make the process interactive. Listen to the problems that are being put on the table and come up with targeted solutions.

6) Nothing is cast in stone, so stay alert and redirect the aim where necessary.

Some practical tips to encourage people to share more externally in the right way:

7) Facilitating social media and communication channels, creating a natural use of these options. If people are motivated enough, they will not be fussy about the balance between work and private time. Allow them to do personal things at work and encourage them to post work related items in evening or at weekends.

8) Sending people a weekly inspirational PR email with content they can share with their business network (both interesting news about the field of expertise and the organisation’s PR messages).

Employees are your signpost
Your employees are your ambassadors, your signpost. Take them seriously. They move among the target group. On social media, with customers, on birthdays. If they are proud of the company they work for, this is one of the most powerful promotional opportunities available. The same applies to customers who are very happy with the way they are served. Proud employees are the best employees. Pride is helped by giving direction. Set clear goals together and mark a dot on the horizon you’re working towards. As an employee, you want to matter. And, very important, you need to recruit the right people! By this, I mean making sure to attract people with the same core values as the organisation. This means the puzzle will be completed by itself. You need to throw out any bad apples. People who don’t want to be part of the company and don’t carry the brand promise, only end up damaging it, even if they are very good at their work.

Contact us for more information. Anceaux Marketing cooperates with the best professionals, who can supervise internal processes like the above.

The next blog in this series is about the third step towards a strong brand: developing a good customer analysis. Stay tuned!