Strong brands are truly brought to life from the inside out. A distinctive positioning, promise and value system are all important brand foundations, and essential for a compelling brand delivery, however, ultimately the value delivered to your customers is provided by those at the coalface: your people.
The real power of people to drive up brand equity is often undervalued, as some businesses are more focussed on embedding their brand in the hearts and minds of their clients. External engagement first, internal engagement second. But is this approach skipping over the latent collective voice of those delivering the brand?
Marketers across sectors are tapping into the amplification power inherent in employees. As social media enters its second generation, the vocal power of individual employees via LinkedIn or other sites to create and represent the brand experience is one of the most powerful marketing tools an organisation can activate. And, in an environment of ever-decreasing marketing spend, activating the voice of your employees is a cost-effective amplification of you brand.
The ultimate power here is those that live your brand amplify your brand. It creates a brand authenticity that a marketing communications program cannot replicate.
Making the brand real
Identifying this latent power is one thing, but, how to activate your people as positive advocates for your brand? There are a number of paths an organisation can take:
Embed the brand internally
Hold an internal brand launch for all employees that generates excitement and spark for your people. By showcasing the brand story, the brand values, attributes, tone of voice and key messages, employees will not only increase their advocacy of the brand, but will also understand their role in delivering the brand experience externally.
Identify and empower brand ambassadors
Creating internal brand ambassadors is a powerful peer-to-peer tool for embedding the brand internally. Brand ambassadors demonstrate the brand experience by example, by living the brand values and evangelising it to colleagues. Be smart in identifying your ambassadors to avoid cynicism, as it is the authenticity of these ambassadors that emotionally connects with others, and motivates further word-of-mouth of action-based advocacy internally.
Keep the momentum going
The hardest part for any organisation – once the brand is launched and understood internally – is how to maintain engagement. Regular brand touchpoints for employees are essential for the brand not to become static, not to become a tick-box HR exercise. All employee engagements – induction, town halls, internal conferences, away days – should work to incorporate and further embed the brand.
Activating your people
Empowerment to share
We all have professional social media profiles. Letting your employees share your content, whether that be thought leadership, blogs or announcements, expands the reach of your messages exponentially, hitting a vastly larger footprint that marketing communications alone. When you launch content, send the link around internally and encourage sharing. If you have 200 staff with 200 contacts, that’s a potential 40,000 people now exposed to your content.
Empowerment to produce
Identify key personnel with active social media accounts with large contact bases. Can these employees write and share blogs? Can they share photos from external speaking events where your people have been presenting? Can they live Tweet from these events? The power of extending content generation beyond your marketing team ensures a cost-effective breadth of thought and reach.
Empowerment to be themselves
Essential in allowing your people to amplify your brand is for them to identify as themselves. The blogs are authored by them; the sharing of events photos are taken by them – not generated from the anonymity of the organisation. Your brand can now own and very specific authenticity: your brand as real people providing authentic brand experiences, further extending the reputation and reach of your brand.
Benefit to the brand
Brand amplification via an organisation’s people is one of today’s essential ingredients in providing differentiation from competitors and having the edge on the scale of external footprint. It provides a low-cost but powerful expansion of your brand’s reach and can further embed your brand in the eyes of your customers and audiences.