WHEN we think of branding, we think of a designer logo and that special name which makes a company different from its competitors.
Lots of effort, time and money are spent building a brand. That is why organisations have to ensure that their branding efforts are not jeopardised by indifferent employees.
Branding should be the responsibility of not only the sales and marketing professionals, but also all the people in the organisation. Here are some ways that employees in your organisation can impact its brand, for good or bad:
Count the number of greetings you get when you visit an organisation. You might be there for a meeting or to attend an interview. Apart from the receptionist who welcomes you, do employees greet you as they walk by?
If you ask for assistance, are employees glad to help or do they look impatient? All these behaviours make a difference and they tell visitors if this is a place they would like to work for or do business with.
This might sound petty, but think about it. If you visit a large departmental store or restaurant and its employees are not genuinely welcoming, you might not want to patronise the place again — and that’s bad for business.
Many people think that when someone attends an interview, the hiring manager is the final decision-maker in whether a job position gets filled because he chooses the best candidate.
However, candidates today are also actively choosing their employers. If a hiring manager — who is representing the employer — is not well-trained and conducts an interview badly, or worse, behaves in a rude and arrogant manner, the company stands to lose good talent.
In addition, the candidates may tell others of their bad experience with the company and warn others not to join or do business with this company.
With the prevalent use of social media like Facebook and LinkedIn, the word could spread like wildfire and do substantial harm to your company’s brand.
It is said that every employee is an ambassador of the organisation. When someone makes a complaint about bad service, for example, it is the organisation, not the person who provided it, that ultimately gets the bad name.
Current management philosophy holds that as long as you belong to a company, you too are a sales and marketing representative. You can be in operations work or in Human Resources, but when you meet someone outside, you represent the company you work for.
Therefore, it is important that you know something about your company’s products and services. Most of all, you have to live up to your company values.
If a company representative cheats or lies and this is made public, it not only puts the employee to shame, it also gives the company a bad name. How employees — senior managers and rank-and-file alike — behave has a direct impact on the company brand.
Making a difference
From the above, it is clear that every employee can make a difference to a brand’s reputation. Your organisation can employ various methods to engage employees and motivate them to feel responsible for supporting its brand.
For example, in orientation and induction programmes, tell employees about the company’s products and services and how these bring value to the customers. Share with them what it means to be part of the company and how they can help make a difference in the organisation.
Organise ambassador programmes. Discuss the company’s products and services in detail. When an employee is able to describe a product with passion it shows that you have a committed employee.
The ambassador programme could also include customer service training, which could take an employee from telephone management to visitor greetings and support and customer management. Managers could also include a module on ethics and business practices to boost the company’s image.
If every employee gets the opportunity for such training, it would have a positive impact on the environment of your organisation. It is a fact that engaged employees serve customers better — and happy customers boost the bottom line.
Look for ways to inject branding activities into every part of your organisation’s business process. For example, re-wire the minds of your hiring managers.
Tell them that how they project themselves in the interview room will impact how job candidates perceive the company. They have to conduct interviews professionally and make sure that candidates leave the interview with a very good impression of the organisation.
Branding is powerful. If your organisation does not put into place a total branding approach, its efforts and investment of time and money will be counter-productive.
For example, positive feelings about the brand through advertising and marketing may be easily negated by bad customer experiences.
The famous Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu once said: “He who is well prepared to seize opportunities will win.”
So, get everyone in your company to be its brand ambassador. Tell them that they too own the company brand. Engage them and see a positive difference.