Branding Through Your Employees
Your employees are one of the most critical touch points for your customer. Here are several steps to ensure that they are representing your brand in the best light possible.
- Develop a Company Philosophy.
- A thoughtfully planned philosophy that guides how your company operates is the first step to reinforcing your brand among your workforce. The prestigious Ritz Carlton Hotel Company is an excellent example. They have created the following five “Gold Standards” for their business operations that reinforce the brand and detail an employee’s role in delivering on this brand:
- A vision to revolutionize hospitality in America by creating a luxury setting for guests and a credo that states the company’s commitment to the genuine care and comfort of its guests.
- A motto that exemplifies the level of service for its guests: We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.
- Three Steps of Service:
- A warm and sincere greeting that uses the guest name, if and when possible
- Anticipation and compliance with guest needs
- A fond farewell that uses a guest’s name, if and when possible
- “20 Basics” that outline the responsibilities and expectations for how the company delivers on its service (including #13—Never Lose a Guest)
- The Employee Promise (“At The Ritz-Carlton, our Ladies & Gentlemen are the most important resource in our service commitment to our guests.”)
- Maintain Brand Consistency
This step is essential to building a strong brand. However, it is often one of the first steps to unravel. You must establish consistency throughout all aspects of your organisation. But setting the standards is not enough. You must constantly evaluate your actions. Establish checkpoints for each aspect of the business that interacts with customers and the general public. Ensure that each employee is empowered to identify and address inconsistencies in your brand. Fail to deliver on brand with one customer, and he or she might forget. Fail to do so for another, and he or she might not be so forgiving. It only takes a scant few to dispel the brand you are touting.
- Practice What You Preach.
The best way to lead is by example. If your brand projects your organisation as one which supports its employees and then reneges on that promise, your brand (and sales) will suffer.
- Implement Brand Guidelines.
In order to ensure brand consistency, your organisation must establish a framework or set of brand guidelines for all to follow. We’re not merely talking about logo or corporate identity guidelines, but actual brand guidelines that communicate the company’s brand positioning statement, key messages, core values, brand attributes, measures of success and processes for handling customer issues or feedback. Federal Express was an early pioneer in this idea. The international shipper utilizes an Internet-based program which outlines the company’s brand guidelines. This detailed approach provides guidance on everything from the graphic standards for use of the company logo to how cultural differences affect brand (particularly important for global companies). Establishing brand guidelines leaves no room for misinterpretation and helps maintain consistency throughout all levels of the organisation.
- Understand and Address Cultural Differences.
With advancements in technology, communications and the Internet, we are truly becoming a global economy. Considering cultural differences when building a brand is more important than ever, particularly if your business has international reach. Words and phrases in America might not translate to the same meaning in another country. What customers value and perceive as positive in the United States may be perceived radically different elsewhere
Your brand is only as good as the people behind it…and the people in front of your customer. Take the time to effectively build a corporate culture that mirrors your brand. Train your employees to represent that brand. Evaluate your consistency in delivering your brand across all aspects of your business. In doing so, you will strengthen your brand equity and position your company for greater success.