Building Your Brand from the Inside Out

Probably one of the least understood and most overlooked aspect of branding is the idea of creating brand ambassadors in your workforce.  And yet, this is a crucial part of achieving your mission. The experience your audience has with your employees will either build the brand or compromise it.  Additionally, employees can extend your brand’s voice beyond your organization’s communications.  The more employees are engaged with your brand, the more effective you will be.

You should be proactive in ensuring your employees are demonstrating the value of the brand on a regular basis – both inside and outside the organization.  Here are a few tips for doing so.

  • Communicate your organization’s brand to your employees.  Employees must know what the organization stands for and what makes it different from others in the marketplace.
  • Brainstorm with your employees regarding how the brand can be communicated within each of your organization’s touch points – or each way in which you come in contact with a client, donor, vendor, partner, etc.  By including all staff in this conversation, they will begin to better grasp the brand identity and become more willing to embrace it.
  • Educate your employees on how to talk about the brand outside the organization.  Include what is permitted or encouraged to talk about on the social media channels they use professionally or personally.  Encourage “share and tell” of your organization’s events.  Provide employees information to share with family, friends, and colleagues via social media or personal interaction, such as videos, customer stories or successes.
  • Involve Human Resources in the process to incorporate the brand in hiring and new employee orientation.  Look for specific characteristics that will support the brand values and include brand training as part of the orientation process.  Additionally, elements of brand ambassadorship should be evaluated as part of the performance review of employees.  When employees know they are being held accountable for the brand values, they are more likely to display them.
  • Developing employees as brand ambassadors is an ongoing process.  Continually convey to employees the brand identity and the organization’s commitment to the brand values by using the following tactics:
    • Offer regular training on the values, customer service, etc.
    • Recognize employees who go above and beyond to exhibit the brand values or promise.  Feature them in social media posts, newsletters or at employee meetings.
    • Develop an incentive system that aligns with brand behavior and values.
    • Offer a quarterly or annual employee recognition for best brand ambassadorship.
    • Talk about your brand values or promise and showcase examples in your internal communications such as newsletters, intranet, meetings, employee functions, emails, etc.
    • Place posters around your organization to remind employees what you stand for.
    • Incorporate storytelling sessions about successful brand customer experiences into meetings and presentations.
    • Provide tools that help employees talk about the brand.
    • Regularly review your internal communications and determine what can be changed to better align with your brand and make sure they are consistent with your brand identity and promise.
  • Make sure every employee understands how his or her job affects the customer experience – especially important for roles that are not customer-facing.  Constantly connect the dots between what the employee is paid to do and what your organization stands for.
  • Building brand ambassadors within your organization should be a formal process.   Formalize and engage a group of people representing all areas of the organization to become a standing active committee of brand ambassadors with specific responsibilities and roles.
  • Perhaps the most important point to remember is that brand advocacy starts with leadership.  If the leadership of an organization lives and breathes the brand, the employees are much more likely to embrace it.

Everyone within the organization should understand the brand promise, think about it, own it and be responsible for delivering it.  If an organization does this well, it not only helps the brand come to life outside the organization, but it also boosts moral and engages employees within the organization.

Most of these tips can and should be employed with your volunteers, as well.  Of course, your board members should also be brand ambassadors – but that’s a topic we’ll leave to a future blog!

For questions, recommendations or assistance, please feel free to e-mail me.

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