Internal communicators have been rolling their eyes for a while now, as our organisations slowly wake up to the idea that employees make great external brand advocates.
Who better to promote your brand than the people that live it, day in, day out?
But sometimes that’s where the problems begin. Employee experience doesn’t always tally up with the image organisations like to project. Therefore, many internal communicators are being tasked with creating an employee brand. So what exactly is an employee brand and how does it differ from employer brand?
Put simply, employer brand is how an organisation is perceived as an employer by potential employees. Employee brand is the experience of a person already employed in the organisation.
Until recently many people thought of brand as a colour palette and an image library. So there’s a lot of work to do around helping people understand what employee brand is, how they can help to influence it and then advocate it. But before you even get to that point, there are other considerations such as should we treat it separately to employer brand? Are we the right people to lead it? How do you identify what your brand even is? And how do you measure if people are engaging with it?
It’s easy to be daunted by such a huge topic, so we’ve put together some top tips to get you thinking…
Involve your employees
We know, we know, this is really obvious. But not everyone gets this opportunity, especially if they work for an organisation with an already established brand, which will see them focus on maintaining or increasing existing engagement and/or engaging new employees with the brand.
So if you’re rebranding or working for a company still in its infancy, you have a fantastic opportunity to shape the type of organisation your employees want to work for and shout about, as well as give people a sense of ownership of the brand. And, if you’re working for a more established brand, make sure people are still connecting to it, find out what would increase their level of engagement and give them the authority to start making positive changes.
Tell a story
Every brand should have a story. We all know that Apple started through a friendship and passion for technology and that it strives to be at the forefront of innovation that will change the way we live our lives. The latest Boots advert shows a company that does more than dispense drugs and sell beauty products – it actually listens and supports its customers – making a difference to their lives.
By making the link between what your employees do and the impact it can have, you stand a far better chance of creating an engaged workforce who are proud to shout about who they work for.
Put yourselves in the customer’s shoes
A great way to get employees to engage with your brand is to quite literally put them in the shoes of their customers. Let employees from non-client facing roles answer customer calls for a morning, or let a call handler spend time with the manufacturers, or sales, to understand what goes into making and selling a great end product for the consumer. Encourage employees to eat in your restaurants, visit your theme parks, try out your equipment – you get the idea.
Employees that can empathise with a customer, and see the impact of the work they, are far more likely to try to live out your brand values.
Translate the brand
Brand is rarely a one size fits all approach. Depending on what part of the business you’re in, it’s going to mean different things to different people. Answering the age-old question of ‘what does it mean to me?’, is essential if people are to understand how the brand affects their job on a practical day-to-day basis.
Take time to really understand different parts of the business and help them to find ways to relate to the brand. The example that gets used time and time again is the one when JFK was visiting the NASA Space Center. He stopped a janitor and asked him what he did. The man replied that he was helping to put a man on the moon.
Investing time in workshops for people to really get to grips with the brand, role play scenarios for what it might mean for them, and to have a chance to ask questions will ensure that employees are receiving consistent guidance and support. But just because you have a workforce of people engaged with a brand, doesn’t mean they’re necessarily comfortable about shouting about it. And that’s ok. For a lot of people, their part in employee brand will be living it and ensuring that what you tell the outside world is a true reflection internally.
But for those who are active on social media, you have a fantastic opportunity to help them promote your business. Arrange social media training sessions, where you remind people of the social media policy, how to use social media to the best effect and how you will work with them to share messages.
If your brain is now buzzing with ideas, and you want to learn more about employee brand, keep an eye out for future blogs where we’ll take a closer look at some of the key elements you might want to consider when creating an employee brand.
By Helen Deverell for Alive!