5 reasons why it’s important for employees to understand the brand

For many marketers, when they think of their brand, they associate it primarily with their customers: “What does our brand stand for in their hearts and minds?” But an important and often overlooked audience is employees. Without the organizing principle of brand among employees, companies face a missed opportunity for the brand to come to life externally.

Video created by School of Thought, as part of an internal brand initiative, led by Caroline and myself, when we were client-side at iShares.  

Employees need to understand what their company’s brand stands for, why it’s important, and what their role is in growing and protecting it. Here are 5 reasons why:

  1. Strengthen the brand promise externally. When employees comprehend and internalize the strategic direction of the brand, they are able to help the company achieve its mission. Understanding the brand is the best way to help employees make an emotional connection with the promise you are making to your customers. Without that comprehension and unifying beacon, employees are likely to be mis-aligned in priority-setting and decision-making.
  1. Employees are galvanized and motivated by a common sense of purpose. When employees understand, care about, and believe in the brand story, they’re inspired to work harder, together. A unified team can also increase retention.
  1. Employees like being involved in important company strategy.  By establishing that every employee, no matter what their role, is an important part of growing and protecting the brand, they feel entrusted to contribute to an important and meaningful charge. If developing or refining brand strategy, asking employees for their input shows them that leadership finds each employee valuable.
  1. Understanding the brand makes story telling come naturally. “Brand training” isn’t about memorizing a mission statement or 5 brand pillar words. Understanding the brand is about each employee not only internalizing what the brand means, but also why it is important, and what they can do in their role
  1. Employees prioritize and make decisions based on the same strategy. Employees at every level make decisions all day long that mold your company and mold what the brand means to customers. If your brand stands for, say, trust & safety, you will use that tenet to decide on what level of risk you might take with a partnership, or which product to prioritize.

The video featured here is one that Caroline and I developed when we worked for iShares, created by our talented friends at School of Thought. It summarizes an internal promotion that supported the launch of a new ad campaign, whose tag line was “Keep Evolving.” We challenged all employees to think about “Keep Evolving” meant to them, resulting in engagement with the external message, an understanding of its strategy, and company-wide support of the new strategic direction.

When teams understand, care about and trust in the brand, they are more interested in being part of the story. They are more convinced of purpose, and their loyalty to the company increases, driving better business results.