Encouraging employee brand advocates is important to successfully build a company's brand from the inside-out. Fortifying internal branding can create brand equity, and it can potentially aid in the development of new business. Another positive outcome will be an increase in talent applying for positions with the organization. A powerful brand can be leveraged in many ways. If you think branding is solely the function of your marketing team – think again. There is a unique contribution that each member of your team has to offer. An excellent metric for internal branding success is through employee brand advocates. Finding ways to inspire team support is golden. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised that it’s not as easy as it seems. What’s not surprising is most employees aren’t vested in “things” they perceive to have little to do with their direct job. Time is precious, and employees make decisions regarding what amount of time they’ll give up especially if they don’t see how it advantages them.
How To Encourage Employee Advocates
If your goal is to create employee brand advocates, it’s impossible to do if your team feels forced or obligated to participate. Below are suggestions that will require the team to be engaged and a few that are practical ways to help build a team of brand ambassadors.
One of the most valuable ways to create company advocates is through shared values. Leaders should make sure that each member of the team knows the company values. To ensure there is team synergy around values, make it part of the interview process. Establishing the importance of company values in the interview is helpful in determining if the interviewee is a cultural fit.
Let Them Own It
When an employee is empowered to implement a new idea or procedure, it will forge a bond with the organization. In some cases, it is not possible to offer a full range of ownership; but, allowing team members leeway to make a significant contribution will have the same effect. It creates a sense of pride that will reinforce their connection to the company.
Everyone likes to be a winner especially if there is something monetary to offer. Create a challenge that provides needed feedback, idea generation, or something else that is beneficial to the company. Once the need is determined, create the rules of engagement. Hopefully, at the conclusion of the contest, you will not only have information at hand but a team of advocates ready to spread the word about your organization.
Mission is Possible
Similar to shared values, conveying the company mission is essential. However, beyond that, solidifying a company mission is crucial. For that to happen, each team member must see how their tasks or duties are a piece of the puzzle. For employees, there's a lot of value in knowing how daily job functions contribute to the company’s overall success. Nothing communicates more effectively the importance of what an employee is adding than seeing positive results. It doesn’t have to stop at the employee’s specific job either. Tie in internal training or interesting off-site educational activities that staff can participate in which are related to corporate objectives.
Signs of a Brand-Advocate
1. Employee actively provides referrals for the company2. The employee displays company pride3. Management hears more we/us rather than me/you4. The employee is enthusiastic about company swag and happily wears and uses products5. In conversation, the employee speaks toward the future with the company6. The employee looks for opportunities to go beyond job tasks and has a desire to share ideas that promote the company missionEmployees are valuable in branding business. And, great employees are invaluable as ambassadors. Frontline employees communicate regularly with the company’s target audience. With that in mind, put your best employees forward, and don’t be afraid to let them shine. Employee buy-in can only happen when shown how it affects them directly. There are numerous ways to show the connection. Find opportunities to “spotlight” employee recognition. A marketing campaign that drives greater sales/accounts would be a hit for any sales role. Another useful idea is to link an internal competition to an incentive; it will spur a particular company initiative while having fun. These ideas help create an in-house synergy that will ultimately strengthen the company’s brand – it’s a win/win.