But … Do Your Employees “Get” Your Brand?
Are your employees killing your company brand?
“Great company—possibly one of the best to work for.”
“You learn to appreciate good companies because almost all companies are better to work for than this one.”
Which one of these sounds most like what your employees might say? Or perhaps somewhere in-between? These quotes, from online employee reviews, illustrate how important employee perceptions are in shaping external perceptions of a company’s brand.
What does employee opinion have to do with a company’s brand, you may ask?
For manufacturers, their biggest challenge is typically getting more people to buy their products or services. A lot of time and effort goes into sales and marketing activities designed to keep the sales pipeline flowing. But, as Selling the Brand Inside states, there is another equally important market: employees—”the very people who can make the brand come alive for your customers.”
Employee engagement is critical to building a great brand reputation. When employees feel connected to their employer and the products they are selling, their enthusiasm and genuine belief in the brand comes across to customers. Without that connection, at best, internal and external messages are not aligned. At worst, highly disenfranchised employees may actively work to undermine company objectives.
Unfortunately, less than half of workers in any industry feel strongly connected to their company’s mission and just 33% of employees in the U.S. are engaged in their jobs.1 Because many employers overlook the importance of cultivating internal brand loyalty, their reputation—and bottom line—often suffer.
Establishing a strong connection between a company’s brand and its employees and customers starts with trust. According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, “nearly 7 in 10 respondents say that building trust is the No. 1 job for CEOs, ahead of high-quality products and services.”
Trusting in a Solid Brand
Building trust begins by aligning external and internal perceptions—an important first step in developing a solid brand. If a company’s internal and external communications are not aligned, it can be “very confusing” and “threatens employees’ perceptions of the company’s integrity.”2
In working with dozens of manufacturers, we often find a disconnect between how leadership perceives the company brand, and how employees and customers perceive it. For example, employees may feel they are doing well at meeting customer expectations around delivery or innovation, but research finds that customers feel there is room for improvement.
The greatest discrepancy typically revolves around brand, with management believing the brand is well defined, while employees and customers cannot express the brand positioning and have little, or no, connection to it. Creating agreement and developing consistent messaging is central to building a brand that employees can rally behind—and that prospective employees will be drawn to.
Strong Bonds = Strong Brand Advocacy
A strong brand will engage employees and encourage them to become brand advocates. And extending the brand promise to job seekers—who “think not only about things like pay and benefits but also about the organization’s purpose”3—provides the emotional connection that may sway them to join your company.
Cultivating a strong brand, and ensuring employees are integral to the process, creates long-term loyalty and goodwill that customers will respond to. And in the age of social media, promoting meaningful, connected employee experiences is one more way to generate positive buzz about your brand.
Check to see if your brand is making the grade.