Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

March 7, 2016 Talking Points

Make your employees your brand champions

Andrea Obston

Employees are your brand ambassadors. They are its communicators, defenders and protectors. They give life to your brand. And, like ambassadors to foreign lands, they have the power to bring your message to the locals.

When your marketing efforts include employees as a critical part of the mix, they understand their role in the process. And they feel empowered to live your brand in every customer interaction.

When you empower your employees to hand-carry your brand to the world — through their social media posts, contact with customers and interactions with the community — they give your marketing more traction than any other vehicle.

According to the Edelman's Annual Trustbarometer Study, the everyday employee is a two times more trusted source of brand information than a company's CEO. 

The people who walk through your front door every day need to live and breathe your brand in everything they do at work. Employees who feel a sense of pride in their companies are more likely to share those feelings through their own social media channels, work harder for customers and better leverage marketing campaigns.

In his book “Delivering Happiness,” Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh explains that the best way to protect a brand is to make sure it's an integral part of the employee culture. If living your brand comes naturally to your employees they will represent your brand authentically wherever they come in contact with your customers — on a sales call, during a face-to-face retail transaction, on the web or in an email. That means that every customer interaction must be consistent with the brand you've crafted through your website, your PR and your online and traditional advertising.

Ignoring this will inevitably turn those employees into “your most likely brand assassins.” That's a great line I had to use from Mark W. McClennan, senior vice president of MSLGROUP. He adds that, “100 years of trust can be broken by an intern or an hourly employee.”

Zappos gets this. Despite that most of their transactions are online, their employees are the primary focus of their marketing plans. Zappos employees live their company's brand.

Businesses that want to create their own corps of brand ambassadors need to start by creating an authentic brand; one that honestly reflects the values of the company and the products it brings to the marketplace.

Here are a couple of ways to do that:

Educate your ambassadors. It's important that every employee be on the same page when it comes to your brand. Make sure they understand your brand's goals and strategies. Consider your employees as one of your most important target audiences. Rolling out a new product? Employees should see it first. Whenever Disney World opens a new park, employees see it before it's open to the public.

Celebrate your employees' role as “keepers of the flame.” Emphasize the importance of each individual's role in safeguarding the brand. Let them know that they are the keys in what you are trying to accomplish. Help them understand how they add value to the company and why they are a critical part of its success.

Make employees your brand champions on social media. Employees who are inspired by their work and active on social media can help a brand build an emotional connection with customers. Build your own social media army by giving employees the encouragement and information they need to post about company developments through their personal social media activities. With their help and enthusiasm your brand can potentially reach thousands of individuals without spending a dime. Adobe created an online brand ambassador program in 2014. Their corporate reputation team brought together 21 employees from seven different locations and asked them to help tell the company's story. The group is routinely pre-briefed on Adobe announcements before they become public and are given the chance to be the first to share this information through their own social media.

Reward enthusiastic brand ambassadors. Employees who take up the charge to carry the brand forward deserve recognition. Acknowledge their efforts. It could be something as basic as a congratulatory email or handwritten note, or a unique item that can be displayed in their offices. I once worked for an ad agency that gave out hockey sticks for employees that went above and beyond. Every employee who earned a stick proudly hung them on their office walls.

Andrea Obston is president of Andrea Obston Marketing Communications in Bloomfield.

Read more

Seven rules for effective sales-incentive plans

Prepare for leadership transition by thinking like a Millennial

Leveraging technology as a competitive advantage

Don’t bring a business plan to investors

Partnerships must brace for new IRS audit rules

What small business owners should know about paid family, medical leave

East Hartford firm scales new terrain with 3D NYC billboard

The changing long-term care paradigm

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF