As Simon Sinek, author and speaker on management and leadership, has said, employees must love the company before the customers ever will. Our passion comes from who we are, not what we sell.
As I’ve written about in the past, one of the most important assets to your brand is your people. Your employees are the face of your brand in the community, to your customers and to other stakeholders. It’s important that they represent your (and their) brand in a uniform manner, or you risk confusion, a loss of brand affinity, or in the worst of cases, a publicity gaffe. In today’s hyper-connected, over-shared world, it’s vitally important that your employees not only understand your brand, but understand the importance of embracing and embodying that brand, and the ability to speak to it confidently.
Many times, when a company makes a branding change – whether an updated visual brand identity or a full overhaul of mission, vision, values and promise – it is quietly communicated throughout the company via an emailed memo or video from the CEO or CMO and that’s the end of it. Logos change slowly, graphics are updated throughout the building and online, but any other signs of change are absent. The culture remains steady, just with a different outward look.
And sometimes this is what you want – your company culture is great, your employees are the best, and they are a shining example of what your organization stands for in their communities. However, in other cases, when our clients launch new brands, they want to reenergize their stakeholders – clients, prospects and most importantly, their own employees – they just don’t know how to do it or where to start.
When a company or organization “rebrands”, the first and most important audience is the internal audience. Start the research and discovery process with stakeholder interviews, and this should always include employees. Their insight into who your company is and how it is perceived is invaluable to accurately assessing current strengths and weaknesses, but also in honing the direction your company needs to go.
By including employees as key stakeholders in this first step, you set the stage for inclusion and ownership as the new brand takes shape and solidifies. We’ve helped many clients create internal marketing campaigns to kick off a new brand, which not only creates opportunity for engagement, but also avenues for deeper education about what the new brand means and why it matters. Marketing to your employees shows them that they are valued and encourages them to take pride in the work that they do and the brand they represent.
Below are some key ways to include your employees in a rebrand: