When you read the title of this article you might be thinking that I am going to write about supplying your employees with branded shirts and SWAG. While this is a critical part to branding your employees, this is not the focus of this article. Branding your employees not just your company is where the future of company loyalty is headed and in some cases is already present and thriving.
Employees want to be engaged at work, but in a way that suits their interests and ambitions. In “The Future of Work: A Journey To 2022,” researchers indicate that people are seeking autonomy and meaning at work, and will therefore see themselves as their own brands. The question then is raised, why should employers focus on helping people build their own personal brand rather than solely the company’s’ brand? The answer can be found in a research study published on ASQ (Administrative Science Quarterly.) The study on “newcomer” socialization in organizations found that helping employees focus on their own identities led to greater customer satisfaction and employee retention after six months than socialization that focused on organizational identity or skills training.
Taking the time to help employees discover ways that they can use their own skills and talents to help the company reach higher success is the driving force behind this high retention rate. Focusing on employee branding– empowering employees to become brand ambassadors- may produce better work and dividends for the organization than employer branding– building an organization’s overall reputation and awareness in the marketplace.
Even with the opportunity being ripe and ready for organizations and companies to apply employee branding standards, a lot of the time the little effort required simply is spent elsewhere. Arthur W. Page said in his Seven Page Principles “Realize a company’s true character is expressed by its people. The strongest opinions—good or bad—about a company are shaped by the words and deeds of its employees. As a result, every employee—active or retired—is involved with public relations. It is the responsibility of corporate communications to support each employee’s capability and desire to be an honest, knowledgeable ambassador to customers, friends, share owners and public officials.”
Employee branding in a lot of ways can be very easy. It is a matter of listening to and communicating with employees. When your employees feel they are trusted to represent your company’s brand, a magical thing happens, they take pride in helping to grow the company brand. Employees today are looking for ways to play an active part in brand building. If it is discovered that an employee in the accounting department runs a highly successful blog outside of work, enlist her to help train or educate the marketing department on what is working for her. If your graphic designer also has the ability to write successful video scripts, bring them in to meet with the video marketing team. Don’t you think that these employees will feel valued and immediately become a strong and influential brand ambassador?
One of the best examples seen in the recent months of employee branding is being done by BuzzFeed. They have an employee named Matt Bellassai who puts on a weekly video series called “Whine About it” where he drinks wine at his desk and complains about stuff. Some of his videos are titled, Worst things about dating, Worst people to Text with and Types of Bros to never hang out with. The brilliant part about having Matt put this weekly video series on is that his personality and style attracts over one million viewers to his videos every week. That is a lot of eyes on BuzzFeed that are generated from the act of employee branding. Someone in the organization noticed how Matt acts and how his style would resonate with BuzzFeed’s audience. Before you knew it Matt is generating all kinds of fans of his and for BuzzFeed as well. A perfect example of employee branding. Taking someone from within and creating a brand ambassador and superstar.
Yes it is critical to supply your employees with branded apparel for them to wear to work and outside of work. Yes it is critical to have branded merchandise for employees to use or giveaway to friends or at events. And yes, having an employee engagement program is massive. When employee branding goes beyond what everyone has already experienced, the real results start to take shape. Giving employees reasons to love your company’s brand is how you keep and grow the kind of brand ambassadors that just might be bringing in more revenue than your advertising department. What can you do now to start creating a culture of employee branding in your company?