There’s a story doing the rounds which nicely encapsulates why branding matters to an organisation’s employees.
It goes like this: JFK is visiting NASA in 1962, and spots a janitor cleaning the hallway. Being a man of the people, the President walks up to the cleaner and asks the man, “What are you doing?” The janitor replies, “I’m helping to put a man on the moon.”
The lesson here is of course that businesses with a strong, shared common purpose and clear sense of their own identity are like targeted missiles (or rockets, in this case), with all employees knowing precisely where the business is heading and why. A clear sense of identity and purpose aligns everyone within the organisation, whether they are in finance, HR, sales or the cleaning staff. It can inform decision making accordingly and most importantly, shape and fuel employee satisfaction. Ultimately it makes a business leaner, meaner, and more effective – and therefore more successful.
The issue of brand is often siloed within the marketing department, when really it belongs to everyone within the business just as much as it does for external identity. Smart businesses recognise that often, the power of brand can deliver much more within their own company when it comes to feeling part of something greater than the individual, shared values, and empowering staff. Of course, a strong brand also conveys a powerful external message and meaning to customers and prospects too.
If looking to refresh or rejuvenate a brand identity, it’s vital to consult with colleagues. On one hand, they may have a very different view on the business, what it exists to accomplish, and where it should be going. On the other, it is critical that you receive a rounded set of responses from a variety of levels within the organisation to truly embrace everything your business is to people, and what it can be. This process alone can be very telling and impactful for other company operations - for example if your sales department is projecting an image remarkably different from the rest of the company. It also ensures any conversations about company identity, purpose, values and direction are organic and developed collectively. Nothing isolates a company founder quite like when they alone are trying to project a company identity which is unbelievable or disconnected from the experiences of their staff.
This very process can also serve to realign an organisation which may feel like it has lost its way or become rudderless. Keeping employees updated on the progress of brand development is also a critical part of this process. If you are going to offer your staff an ability for their voices to be heard, they should see how their words are being projected and used to shape the future of the company. It can also reignite employees’ sense of belonging and engagement with the business as a whole, as well as kick-starting their own creative processes which can pay dividends within their day-to-day roles.
In our experience the companies which consider the internal and external implications of their brand decisions don’t just end up with a solid customer facing proposition which succinctly communicates the reason they exist. They also unify their people and their business around common goals and targets.
And if we’re all honest with ourselves, if we’re a business leader, wouldn’t we all prefer if our employees responded like the janitor when asked about their job?
Mark Easby is founder and Managing Director at Better, an award winning brand agency based in Teesside and London.
Better was founded in 2008 and has since grown a team of 14 strategic, creative and digital experts who work with a range of clients across a diverse market sectors to deliver measurable bottom line impact. Mark is a very passionate ‘Teessider', committed to supporting a range of entrepreneurial and enterprise activities across the region, from mentoring and training through to start up support, including being a trustee of High Tide Foundation and Galileo Academy Trust.