IT engineers, project managers, the accounts team and others you don’t normally associate with the brand have to understand it, too.
Your employees (and contractors) can affect your image and reputation more than your carefully crafted marketing messages.
After all, it’s your employees who are expected to deliver on the promises you make to customers.
So whether they know it or not — and whether you like it or not — your brand depends on all of your employees and the way they communicate.
Your brand is more than just your logo
Your brand is the way you do business.
It’s your ultimate currency for trading in the marketplace.
It’s the promises you keep (good brand) or break (poor brand).
It’s your image and your reputation.
Everyone inside your company has to understand your brand
The mistake a lot of companies make is to focus their brand externally, with it only fully understood and used by the marketing team.
This ignores the fact that every employee interacts with the outside world, in a variety of ways, whether it’s dealing with customers, suppliers, associates, friends or family.
The words and actions of every employee have an effect on your brand — positive or negative.
Put more focus on non-marketing communication
The employees who most need to understand your brand are the ones outside of marketing — like the ones producing project and operations documents to be delivered to your customers.
Yet they’re the ones least likely to understand your brand. They may not even know what your brand stands for!
These employees desperately need support to ensure they’re representing your company as you expect.
Make your brand a tangible part of everyone’s everyday work
What’s the point of the brand if it’s not integral to everything your company does, internally and externally?
Whether you’re writing reports, developing plans, publishing web content, attending a meeting or answering a telephone call, your brand needs to inform what you do and how you do it.
Aligning all of your work practices to your brand is the way to make it tangible to everyone.
But brand alignment doesn’t just happen. It’s a continual process.
So here are 8 steps to get your communication aligned to and building your brand.
1. Make sure your brand standards and guidelines are clear and easily accessible
Brand standards and guidelines explain how you want your company to be presented. This includes:
- your logo, colour palette and other visual elements of the brand
- the style and tone of your communication
- the quality of your communication
- the words and terms you use to consistently describe your company, its products and services
- behaviour, dress code, telephone manner and other elements of conduct.
These standards and guidelines could be documented in a number of forms and may be found in documents such as a brand playbook, a visual identity guide or a style guide, as well as in your policies, processes, procedures and code of conduct.
Whatever they are, how ever they’re documented, make sure they’re easy for everyone to get hold of.
2. Explain your brand during induction training
This is how you make sure your employees understand what the brand means.
It’s also when you let everyone know there are brand standards and guidelines, what they are, where to find them, and how they’re expected to work with them.
3. Stipulate adherence to your brand standards and guidelines in policies, processes and procedures
Your employees need to understand the company has a particular way of doing things, and that their work needs to conform to a prescribed style and level of quality.
4. Have up-to-date, easily accessible templates for all forms of internal and external communication
Templates are the easiest way of making sure written communication looks the way you want it to, and that it contains everything it needs to. They’re a great way of helping people use the brand as part of their everyday work.
5. Make sure the brand is reinforced as a part of internal communication
Everyone needs to understand and be reminded that they represent the company, and so the brand.
6. Lead by example — those at the top have to be seen to be living the brand
Everyone, from the top down, needs to behave and present themselves and their work in line with your brand standards and guidelines.
It’s important for everyone to understand that their behaviour and communication reflects on your company’s image and reputation. And that includes their personal and professional postings on social media.
7. Have a review process in place
Written communication needs to be proofread and edited as necessary, and reviewed for compliance with your brand.
8. Have a formal mechanism in place for compliance with your brand, and to fix non-compliances
Does your company have measures in place to ensure communication adheres to the brand standards and guidelines? Otherwise, customers and other stakeholders may receive inconsistent communication, which harms the integrity of your brand.
Enforcing adherence to the brand needs to be a number-one priority, especially with the threat that social media poses to your company’s image and reputation.
Ideally, you want people to speak up when they see non-compliant communication. That way, deviations from the standards and guidelines are reported and corrected as soon as possible.
And include brand compliance in your review of employees’ performance.
Remember, your brand is the way you do business
One of the biggest dangers your company faces is not paying close attention to its brand.
What’s the point of having a fantastic website and other blingin’ marketing material if your product or service doesn’t live up to any of it?
You use your brand in marketing to convince potential customers you’re the right choice.
So make sure the thing they’re actually paying for matches your brand’s promise.
When the way you work is fully aligned to your brand, your everyday communication becomes a brand-building tool.