Employees contribute to brand

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A compelling article by William Arruda on brandchannel.com that focuses on how employees help to build the brand brought out a number of good points. In our work with clients we have seen extraordinary results when staff members align with and embrace the brand message and context. You can link to the full article here http://www.brandchannel.com/brand_speak.asp?bs_id=230 or read an excerpt below:

Branding During an Economic Downturn
During lean times, talent is often viewed as a liability, not as an asset. But with the current down business cycle, the opposite seems to be true. Sure, unemployment figures are soaring and companies are rightsizing or downsizing or rescaling or whatever they call it; but at the same time, companies are investing in their people. I see this in my own business. Most of my work is focused on personal branding for leadership development in the enterprise, and almost all of my clients are continuing their commitment to their people; many have increased their efforts.

Even as companies cut costs across the board, savvy organizations are investing in their talent – understanding the impact it will have on the corporate brand. According to the 2008 Bersin and Associates Leadership Development Survey, 40% of organizations polled said their spending on leadership development has remained the same and 36% said their budgets were slated to increase this year.

It’s no wonder when you look at the benefit of engaged employees who understand the brand. Committed employees stay at your company longer, work harder and deliver on-brand work every day. So with reduced marketing and branding budgets, harnessing the power of your employees to build the brand is a cost-effective strategy for bolstering the brand. Once your brand is clear in the minds and hearts of these important assets, they become your brand ambassadors and go off steadfastly in support of your mission.

How have we seen this level of communication and training brought to life?

Our recent work for Cascade Employers Association involved distilling their work into key messages that established the context, not the list of “stuff” they do. How they interact with members, the approach to the services they provide, the context of what they deliver for their members is distilled into the brand promise, “Unsurpassed resources for great employers.”

Once defined, we took the messaging into the environment with posters that restate key messages and the organization’s core values. Business cards with different messages on the back (each staff member received multiple messages within their box of cards) help each employee “own” the messages and bring them to life in discussion with anyone they interact with. The results? Despite the challenges of the economy, the staff has looked forward, aligned with the concepts and continues to represent the best tenets of the brand.

President Patrice Altenhofen shared, “We have moved Cascade Employers forward, even in an economic downturn—we have thrived rather than merely survived.”

Our work in 2005 for Western Oregon Waste, while focused on the naming and branding (WOW), had the long-term additional result of aligning staff and bringing new energy and enthusiasm to the different divisions within the company. And it’s still working as a premise for a “WOW level of service” and a measurement of the commitment of every person in the company.

People build brands. It’s not about the logo or the message or the brand promise. It’s about how those elements bring people together around a compelling idea, generate enthusiasm and engagement and build pride and ownership. Amazing results are possible when the brand truly reflects the culture and unites employees.

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