Do your employees ‘live the brand?’

Gary Cattermole explains why employees should be an organisation’s biggest ambassadors.

Brands that have the best employee ambassadors are the ones that hand over some autonomy. Photo Credit: Fotolia 
Employee engagement isn’t a new term and it’s one that most people now understand and appreciate. If you invest in your staff, treat them with dignity and respect, and offer them career progression, they’re much more likely to want to go the extra mile and be more productive in their roles. 
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Naturally all CEOs want to create a culture where this happens, but how do you also ensure staff go one step further and be the best they can be?

On a Friday night down the pub, would you wear your company’s logo on your T-shirt? Would you tell your mates that the company you work for are amazing? Would you recommend they got a job there? If the answer is ‘No’ – style issues on the work’s T shirt set aside – then your employer needs to consider the importance of branding, company mission, vision and values.  
The majority of companies have a mission statement and in some form communicate what it is to their employees. However, it is the companies that listen to their staff, let them shape what sort of organisation it should be, lead from the top down, and engender a passion for the business and what they do that are the real success stories.
Bringing a mission statement to life is no easy feat, but it is one that needs to be engineered across departments and territories to gain support from everyone. You can’t just expect your PR to put some words together to wrap-up what you do in a nutshell, with some motivational speak added for good measure. It also can’t just be placed in the company handbook for employees to refer to and learn off by heart. 
You need to freshen your approach, consider how you do business, consult with staff on how you can do things better, and what way forward your business should go. The mission, vision and values should be intrinsic to your business and company culture. The brands that have the best employee ambassadors are the ones that hand over some autonomy and allow staff to make decisions.
They accept there may be some learning curves along the way, but ultimately give employees the freedom to be much more entrepreneurial and creative in their everyday working lives.
Empowering staff to ‘live the brand’ will not happen in any organisation overnight, but you can take some simple steps forward to reaching your ultimate goal.  
Here are top ten tips to help your staff live the brand. 
  1. When employees believe in the brand a business will prosper. It’s worthwhile creating a strategic plan to ensure all new recruits and existing employees understand your mission, vision and values. 
  2. Lead from the top down. Once again Richard Branson is a great example, and thanks to his leadership style everyone has a much stronger understanding of the Virgin brand. 
  3. Don’t try and fit a round peg in a square hole. If your organisation’s brand is fun loving, young and quirky then be clear when you’re recruiting that the talent fits the bill. For example: some city bars actively encourage young people with tattoos to apply for positions in their bar as they convey the right edgy image for their business. 
  4. Make sure your workplace conveys the same brand messages it does to staff as it does to customers. So, if your brand is all about ‘living the dream’ then enthuse staff with motivational surrounds, such as great looking offices, which are fun and encourage your staff to personify your brand ethos.
  5. Mantras are a good way of getting your staff to remember what your brand is all about. Starbucks may have a manual on customer service, but their baristas are trained to remember be nice, be clean and to ‘Say Yes.’ Thanks to this snappy mantra their outlets always look their best and their staff remember to offer a ‘can do’ attitude.
  6. Think of fun ways to engage your staff in delivering your brand ethos on a daily basis. French outdoor gear company, Decathlon, offers their staff a 10-minute energy-building workout each morning. It brings the team together, builds in fun time, and gives customer-facing personnel lots of energy.
  7. Consult with your staff and ensure your values appeal to your workforce. Are they still relevant? Let your staff have a say on the future, and what values could be more pertinent to your business. If employees shape the brand they’re much more likely to support it. 
  8. Involve your staff in major brand campaigns as it’s a great way of boosting morale and spreading the word. For example, if you’ve got your brand in a major film, offer company trips to the local cinema to further boost your credentials and ensure your staff act as brand ambassadors. 
  9. How do you know if your staff are living the brand? Basic signs to look out for: do staff recommend your company to others? Do they enjoy wearing company uniforms? Do employees look happy, and go the extra mile?
  10. My biggest tip: don’t be a David Brent and tell staff to live the brand, it will only breed cynicism within the workforce and will backfire big time!


About the author 

Gary Cattermole is the co- director of The Survey Initiative, a leading employee research provider specialising in employee engagement.



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