How to ensure employee engagement in brand development.

Many companies rightly focus on external marketing and advertising activities, but do they always take advantage of the most powerful brand assets a company has? I’m talking, of course, about their people.

The key to building and maintaining a strong brand is that all employees feel connected and understand their role in bringing it to life. So the first place to start, when developing and delivering a brand, is with your employees.

Building strong brands starts from within. Your employees know the business better than anyone, so make sure you engage, listen and involve them as you formulate the brand positioning and strategy. Let them take ownership of the brand. Include them early on in the project and at each stage of the journey.

Think about organising face-to-face interviews and workshops with senior colleagues. Then follow up with an anonymous survey to capture input from the wider team. Group meetings can keep everyone updated on progress, while a company-wide meeting is ideal to unveil the detail of the new strategy at the end of the project.

It is also important to involve your customers, as they will give you a reality check and let you know how your brand is currently perceived. They can help uncover any perception gaps that your marketing communications may need to address and can provide unique insights to brand truths your might have overlooked.

Here are four useful tips:

Include all employees

Ensure that all staff and departments of your business have a voice. It is often the frontline PAs, receptionists and junior staff that create the first impression with your clients, so it is especially important to invest the time to make sure that they feel comfortable with the new brand strategy and how to implement it.

Make sure you also include non-customer-facing staff as they also have a vested interest in the brand and play a strong role in presenting it to their social networks and peer group.

Know your audience or audiences

Often brands are developed with too narrow a focus – they are developed to solve an immediate challenge of selling more products or services to a particular audience. This myopic approach might prove successful for a short period, but the strategy will soon run out of steam. Brands need to be able to flex and appeal to a wide range of audiences.

Make your brand aspirational but realistic

Employees know your brand better than anyone and how well it’s being received on a day-to-day basis. So don’t attempt to cover over any issues that might exist. Deal with them head on and use the branding process as an opportunity to uncover any problems and create solutions.

Your brand needs to be rooted in reality, but it should also be aspirational – something that all employees should strive for. If you brand merely represents where you are today it will have very little impact and traction for either your employees or your clients.

Remember – change is often slow and difficult

A brand repositioning often requires a substantial shift in mindset. Developing a new brand direction will always start off with a big splash, as people are excited by the new look, the content, any external campaign and internal launch. It’s an exciting time. But to be successful longer term, a brand alignment or refresh will often require a culture shift and that takes time.