How to Turn Your Employees Into Brand Advocates
Your employees are your biggest marketing opportunity. Why? Because if they are engaged with your brand, they can be your number one marketers and boosters of brand equity. How do you convert this potential business-changing force into brand advocates? Achieving employee brand engagement was our topic at the last Silicon Valley Brand Forum.
Empowering employees as brand advocates is critical to successful brand evolution. When you change or evolve your brand identity, your internal audience is just as important as your external audience. Ideally, your employees are the engine driving brand transformation. For that reason, we ask every client to engage their employees when changing their brand identity.
Engaging your employees
To be effective, brand identity work must inspire employees as an idea they can rally behind. Quantitative research can give you data, but qualitative research helps you hear and feel culture from the key voices and the personalities who make it real. You can’t just change your logo and tell employees, “All right, everyone, fall in line and be part of this.” Your brand essence starts within your company, and employee brand advocacy requires investment, cultivation and authenticity. It also must capture your employees’ spirit and passion. If your employees are engaged, you will have a firm foundation for moving forward with change.
Four factors for empowering employees as brand advocates
A new brand identity should be both aspirational and authentic to employees. It’s essential that employees:
- See themselves in the new positioning
- Believe in the vision and aspiration behind the new identity
- Understand that the new brand has meaning and value
- Feel recognized for their part in adding value to the brand
There is a simple but critical process for building an authentic brand through enthusiastic employee brand advocates: people build the culture, the culture builds the brand, the brand is expressed and advocated by the people. To be genuine, one must naturally lead to the other. When your people believe in what the new brand identity represents, and the mission feels genuine, employees become inspired. Inspired employees are the best brand advocates.
Communicating what’s new
Employees want to do the right thing, but how can they know what the right thing is if it’s not clearly communicated? What is off-brand and what is on? When doing the work to launch a new brand identity, make sure your employees are involved throughout the process. When communicating what’s new, also make it clear what it means for everyone. We’ve recognized through client experience that each organization needs a tailored plan. However, each plan includes key tactics for building understanding, appreciation, and enthusiasm for the new brand identity.
When we worked with Caltech, one of the world’s leading research universities, the faculty and staff worried that we, as outsiders, might introduce some foreign body called “brand”, and the institute would reject it. Instead, through listening, distilling and including the community in the process, we arrived at an authentic and inspiring brand essence that academics and support staff alike felt inspired to be a part of. Their ultimate enthusiastic adoption of a new brand identity was not about the logo or a color – it was about a clear and compelling promise the whole university could articulate, that resonated internally and externally.
If you’re considering a new or refreshed brand identity, be sure to take the time to cultivate internal brand advocates. We’re glad to have a conversation to strategize how to best convert your employees into your business-changing marketing force.