How Employees “Get” Brand   

By Caroline McNally Partner and Co-Founder, Global Brand Works


Wah wah wah wah wah wah… Remember all of the grown-ups in Charlie Brown’s orbit?  The muffled voices from teachers and parents impart no wisdom to their students and offspring.  Sadly, theirs isn’t a communication style from an earlier era – it’s happening now, especially in modern business.   I’ve observed many companies approach brand training this way, they talk “at”- they tell employees what the brand is, and then expect them to regurgitate it back. 

I’m sure you’ve seen it in many a training session – eyes glaze over, employees return to their desks, and nothing improves or changes.   

There’s a better way!  Talk with.

If you want to talk to employees about understanding and leveraging your brand, you will need to show them the what and the why, but it’s the next part that matters:  they need to be inspired enough to authentically articulate why the brand matters to them.  Position the need for a strong brand as a benefit: Maybe it will help sales get a foot in the door?  Maybe it will help with recruiting?  Maybe it will help decide what partnerships to cultivate?   All the “why’s” and “what’s” about branding are irrelevant if internal teams don’t see the personal benefit in their every day jobs.

Get their ideas on how to bring to the brand life – and keep it simple.  Don’t overwhelm with complicated to do’s. Simple changes have lasting impact. 

In a recent client engagement, Global Brand Works was tasked with activating the brand internally among employees. After explaining the “why” and the “what” to employees, we asked them to conceive one thing they could do or change in the next 90 days to support and live the brand.

One employee chose to focus on “precise” – one of company’s 5 brand tenets.  She came up with the idea that she would pause to think before speaking to colleagues and clients – in order to use fewer words and deliver a more accurate communication. 

Another company’s rallying cry was “Keep Evolving.” We challenged employees to make the concept come to life in a grass-roots contest where they expressed what it meant to them.  We received many clever (and funny) concepts, such as “Keep ignoring the rearview mirror,” “Keep reinventing,” and the winner, “Keep raising the standard of the standard.” 

Brand building isn’t a top down mandate, it’s an inside out story that is always being told – one that has a direct impact on the health of your business and the happiness of your employees. An aligned organization delivers a consistent and compelling brand experience, and a shared sense of purpose, which produces better business results.

When you talk at, this is what they hear:  wah wah wah wah wah wah.

When you talk with, this is what they do:  they change their behavior in support of the brand. They elevate the experience for everyone.  They are happier, customers are happier and business succeeds.