Brands are expressed in many ways, including in the actions and behavior of your own people. In fact, employees are crucial to the brand experience, particularly in the B2B space. Inasmuch as a brand is the totality of all your perceptions about a business, obviously, employee actions and attitudes have an impact—everything from answering phone calls promptly to product knowledge. But it goes beyond customer facing employees. Employees don’t just represent the company, they are the company. The depth of understanding each person has about brand values and purpose is reflected in productivity. The workers of strongly branded organizations literally “live the brand”, giving them focus, motivation and a guiding direction.
Great stories have the power to strengthen brands internally. We learned about a powerful story when we created the brand identity for BrainStorm, a software training company. In the Discover stage of our Perception Branding D5 process, more than one employee told us about the 30-hour flight to Scotland. On a Thursday afternoon in 2003, they learned that the product they had shipped to Scotland would not arrive until Monday afternoon—but their client needed it Monday morning. Eric Farr, co-founder and champion of the importance of exceeding customer expectations, boarded a flight for the “milk route” to the northern most country of the United Kingdom. Meeting their dumbfounded client at the airport Sunday evening, Eric delivered the product, spent an hour visiting with him and then boarded the plane for the return trip.
According to Rudy Vidal, former Chief Customer Officer at inContact, for whom we designed a new brand identityin 2010, “A dissatisfied customer, once rectified, is more likely to remain a loyal customer than is the customer who was never dissatisfied in the first place.” The herculean effort of BrainStorm turned what would have been a very dissatisfied, one-time customer into a recurring, top-ten customer. The story continues to resonate internally within the company because it captures the values and identity of the brand, while adding elements of emotion and aspiration.
Communicating the values of your brand internally is the highest form of brand management. Making certain that employees understand these values, turns them into brand ambassadors of your company and its products and services. If the brand is clear and well-defined, employees operate from a position that directs the decisions they make in the workplace. The net result is a company that is self-directed and differentiated from competitors.
Our clients are typically anxious to show off a new brand identity we’ve created—print up those business cards, revise the home page—but we are more hesitant. In nearly any launch, the first most important audience is the company’s employees.