Define Your Company’s Brand by Engaging Employees

brand ambassadors brandingYou can’t ask your employees to become brand ambassadors when they don’t know what your company stands for.

Thanks to executive search firm Heyman Associates, specialists in communications and public affairs, for this video from their Positioning newsletter.

Jeep Bryant, EVP for Marketing and Corporate Affairs at BNY Mellon, discusses in the video how the bank engaged with employees to refresh its brand and create brand ambassadors.

Partner With Your Employees

This wasn’t a “feel good” exercise. As Bryant explains, the bank rolled out their branding program to include employees around the world in the process. This involved these key steps:

  • Make it a partnership between senior leaders and employees.
  • Make it real and show how what employees do every day connects to the brand.
  • Define the output of the partnership so that everyone has a voice in the brand.
  • Make the brand new and innovative  and celebrate with employees to launch the brand. Recognize and reward employees.

Engaging employees to define the bank’s brand automatically made them brand ambassadors. They understand how what they do connects to the brand. Bryant explains more in this video.

Have you partnered with employees to help define your brand? Are they able to serve as brand ambassadors?

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Comments

  1. He makes some great points. If we involve our employees in the process of identifying the brand and make it a partnership, then we have devoted ambassadors who will assist in moving the company forward.

    Management cannot just go through the motions on this. They have to be genuine. It is important that the employees have a true voice and they feel part of the team. This is how you create longetivity and loyal employees. Thanks for sharing.

    • Nathaniel — many companies talk about employee engagement but their actions don’t support it. BNY Mellon put their money where their mouth was.

  2. Jeannette, I agree entirely with actively engaging employees in the projection of the brand and would add that HIRING employees with the brand front and centre among the considerations need more emphasis in many organizations

    • Paul — interesting observation. I think companies with a clearly defined brand will attract better employees. People also want to work for companies who value them and engage them in contributing to the success of the company.

  3. Great article. The first line of contact one has with a brand is the people. Keeping them happy to work there and proud of their brand can truly make a brand.

    • Sue — employees are the front line of contact for an organization with their customers. If employees are not engaged and don’t understand the company’s brand it will be detrimental to the company’s success.

  4. After the definition, the leaders HAVE to walk the talk. That has to be part of the partnership and making things real he talks about. For too many years in my corporate training, this lack of commitment left employees often feeling that whatever training was about, was not going to make a difference. Imagine if your brand included – making a difference.

    Good one Jeannette.

    • Pat — Having been head of training at my bank, I know how it can be so effective when the CEO is committed to it. I was very lucky because my CEO considered training employees to be the most important function in the bank. No kidding. It showed, too. Our customers loved us and we had brand reputation that far exceeded our size.

  5. Jeannette- I ask the employees what they think we are all about. What sets our company apart from other companies. Basically what is our unique. I try to use “unique selling proposition” (USP). I ask the employees what makes our business unique compared to our competitors. We need to put ourselves in your customer’s shoes. Why are customers buying our products instead of a competitor’s. In the promotional products industry there are over 35000 distributors so it is important to get your employees on board. Enjoyed the video

    • Arleen — Great to hear that you involve your employees in defining your company’s unique qualities. Not surprised!

  6. Anytime you can get employees involved in the process and get them excited and make them feel a part of it, they will be way more likely to be ambassadors for the brand and the company. Employees have to understand the brand and embrace it or it will never get off the ground.

    • Susan — totally agree. Maybe it’s just me, but I think more and more companies feel employees are fungible. It’s a good market for employers but too many people chasing too few jobs. So why bother with engagement?

  7. Well, I only have one! So, I prefer to advise my clients, for whom I do social media about the important of involving their staff and educating them. Some do it very well and others are quite resistant, which always boggles my mind. Great stuff – sharing!

    • Laurie — so do I! It’s so important to involve staff. When rumors are flying about the company, leadership becomes secretive instead of sharing what’s going on with employees. You know, specializing in social media, that there are no secrets anymore. Employees just have to turn to social networks where the information may or may not be correct.

  8. I love the approach they took. More organizations need to recognize that employees will help to define the brand with or without the senior management’s guidance. It’s so much better to talk to them about what the intention is, what the goals are, so that they can be good ambassadors.

  9. It seems like a no-brainer to engage employees in the promotion of the company brand however it is easier said than done. As others have mentioned it is a top down strategy. Many employees will be of the opinion that promoting the brand is not my job, what do I get out of if I do, and isn’t that the job of the guys making way more money than me.

    • Tim — its management’s job to communicate the importance of being a brand ambassador. Employees can have an active role in promoting the company and making it more successful.

  10. Currently, I don’t have any employees, but I am helped by many good online friends. I think most of them know the kind of image I want to project. But now I wil be thinking more about this. Am I clear in what I want my brand to be known for? And I will ask their help in clarifying any part of it that I or they are unsure of. I can remember my dad having a talk with the help when he handed out their shirts for the first day of a new event. He would tell them guys we are a clean wholesome family oriented children’s carnival. He would go on to tell them that means while we are open be polite watch your language and concentrate on safe operation of the rides or fair operation of the games. The biggest problem he ever had was with teenage and young adult help that didn’t see why this image required them to remove their jewelry or cover their tattoos during working hours. Thanks for sharing, Max

    • Max — your father was obviously a wonderful role model. The carnival would come to my small town every year and I recall how excited I was. When I was young people rarely had tattoos. None of my friends did. You only saw a tattoo or two on returning servicemen. Times have changed.

      • Yes, I was very lucky. and i know he would have appreciated the complement. He probably wouldn’t have admitted it because for people from his generation thought it was their biggest responsibility. I think carnivals of today do not see their employees as family or as ambassadores. I believe there would be fewer negative news stories if more of them would involve their help in representing the values of the company. Looking forward to next week, max

  11. Great article. What seems like common sense often isn’t practiced at all! I’ve been in meeting where CEO’s seems interested in the opinions of the minions, complimented them on suggestions, and then implemented nothing! And there are often misunderstanding not only about the brand but the mission statement as well.

    • Jacquie — oh my, how I can relate. CEOs too often only give a nod to employee engagement. Their attitude is the boss knows best — only s/he often doesn’t!

  12. Schools typically do a really lackluster job of engaging teachers in their brand, and the over 50% attrition rate of the profession shows it. As a teacher, I had to get students engaged in my so-called “brand” that reading and writing were pretty amazing, etc. Now that I’m a solo freelancer, that’s not too much of a concern. On the other hand, my husband is a software consultant for a great company. Not only can he stand behind their products, they also treat their employees really well which makes all the difference.

    • Jeri — It’s sad that every study shows that children are reading less, especially just for pleasure. They’d rather be playing video games or texting their friends. They are missing out on one of the great joys of life — reading.

  13. It’s definitely a great idea to make your employees ambassadors of your brand. If not, your brand may not be perceived to be as great as it is, or could be.

    Every time I come across a sour receptionist I wonder if the CEO of that company knows how she behaves. That kind of employees really need to be engaged and feel how important their contribution to the company is. If not, their behaviour can make customers change their mind.

  14. Not only will employees be happier and more productive when they are engaged but usually it is employees who the customer or client interacts with first. Don’t you love doing business with a company whose employees are happy to help you and share their enthusiasm? I do.

  15. Interesting topic, Jeannette, and one that is timely, as my husband’s son-in-law was recently laid off after 42 years with the company. The founder had retired and his sons took over, but they also changed the way things are done at the company in a very big way. It seems that meant getting rid of people that no longer fit the image they wanted the company to have. I understand why these decisions are made. It just breaks my heart when they are not done in a kind, respectful, and humane fashion.

    • Doreen — that is so sad and unfair. You wonder how that will affect the company’s brand. It certainly will impact the employees who remain. What incentive do they have to be brand ambassadors when they may be the next to get the axe?

  16. I like the approach Bryant took to engaging employees in the brand. Too often I’ve seen leaders tell employees about the brand, without any input from employees or with collecting input in such a way that employees cannot see how their input was useful, and then expect employees to promote it without any sense of it being connected to them and what they do. I also like what he is doing with follow-through – something else that is often left to chance.

    • Thanks for visiting, Donna. You mention follow-through, and that is probably the most important step. You’ve got to keep the connection going with employees. Branding and employee engagement can’t be just a one-shot deal.

  17. Hi Jeannette,
    I think the most productive employees are those who are appreciated for their contribution to the organization. If the employees are given a voice in the brand, they will add more value by believing in it. When management engages employees at this level, they increase the level of their success.

    Have you heard of the BOSI quadrant? It seems to fit in with your discussion here..

    Kind Regards,
    Bill

    • Bill — thanks for telling me about the BOSI quadrant (and calling me about my mobile view!). It is something I’m checking out and may write about.

  18. Great post Jeanette. Any time you get your employees vested in your brand they become ambassadors. Treating them like partners who have a voice and impact the brand by their daily actions is a beautiful way to empower them.

    • Valerie — yes, empowering your employees is the ultimate goal. Let them be part of the process. Financial services firms have been reluctant to allow financial advisors to use social media to tout their brand because of compliance issues, but more because it’s just easier for them, but this week I read that Morgan Stanley is now giving their advisers permission to tweet without having every post approved in advance. Progress!