Your company’s brand starts on the inside. If your employees are not part of the brand, if they have not bought into the essence of the company’s culture, your branding will fail because every interaction with your company will contradict the image you are trying to establish. This is why having the right brand culture is so critical.
In my first column I explained how effective branding is crucial to your company’s ultimate success. In this article we look at your internal culture and your employees as these really are the make-or-break factor for your brand.
If you want your brand to resonate with current and potential customers, it must be lived and breathed by your employees because they are the face of your business. The culture you create internally will define how your staff act and the brand message they carry to the world. Leadership buy in is also non negotiable if they do not demonstrate the culture by their actions, employees will quickly realise the culture is a facade and will actively disengage from the brand. Resulting potential dire results for both productivity and quality of service.
The founder of one of the most high-profile brands in the world knows this. Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks said: “The most important component of our brand is the employee. The people have created the magic. The people have created the experience.”
If your people don’t love the brand and carry all it represents with them, your brand will suffer and so will your bottom line. If you can’t create the magic inside the company, there will be nothing for employees to carry through to the outside. This is not pie in the sky marketing speak. When it comes to customers’ purchasing patterns, employees are seen as the most credible source of information regarding their brand.
The 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer confirms this: “Employees rank the highest in public trust. In fact, 41% of us believe that employees are the most credible source of information regarding their business.”
Your employees, individually and as a group, can present a united front by sharing the powerful brand truth and living its magic. This enables an emotional connection with the brand, giving people a deeper understanding, and even a type of tribal kinship with other brand enthusiasts (just look at Apple as an example).
People connect with people and not products, and that’s exactly why converting employees into brand ambassadors is so advantageous. It’s the culture of the actual people doing the selling and manning the customer service desk that makes all the difference.
This is the brand ecosystem performing at its very best. It thrives by creating meaning, value and preference for everyone. The result is a brand that people connect with and love, and a business that thrives. To put it simply, when it comes to productivity and selling your image to the world, collective and individual purpose created by a winning brand culture is the driving energy that propels performance.