Companies invest millions of pounds every year marketing their products, raising their profile and delivering their new proposition. They employ the best planners, the smartest creative people and the finest brains in their organisation to create a campaign they hope will strike a chord with every potential customer.
Fundamental to this are the people who work inside the company. They must understand, proudly represent and be ambassadors of ‘their’ brand. They must be the link between the company and their customers. Unfortunately many superbly creative campaigns fail because the majority of the employees don’t relate to it or understand the bigger picture.
For a brand to be successful and achieve customer buy-in you need employees to understand, agree and be advocates first. Duncan Gardner MD and James Norrington, CD of agency Avvio believe this is the most important component for success. Both have spent many years bringing brands to life and today Avvio works with Sky, Vodafone, Centrica and RBS to help widely different workforces understand and connect with their brand.
“In a sense you ‘sell’ your brand’s promise to your employees first” says James Norrington. “It’s getting employees to love their brand so they reflect this passion back to the customers and also their colleagues. They must make the migration from ‘working for’ to being ‘owner partners’ of the brand”.
Many companies today seek better financial returns, but where should they look? Though branding is one of today’s most overused terms it still offers significant growth opportunities. Many brands have grown because processes have been developed that allow the brand to be promoted internally.
Finding the right processes and building brand alignment is hard work, but once you’ve organised your strategy you can use it to focus on operational procedures, human resources, employee loyalty and CSR.
Engaging with CSR and environmental communications
With increasing pressure to improve bottom lines as well as be good corporate citizens, business leaders face tough decisions. What social issues should they get behind? What initiatives should they develop that will do most good for the company? Here again, a strong brand can play a leadership role that employees can get behind and show their support.
CSR is more than running a responsible business – it’s a vision that should reflect the brands core values and Avvio have become specialists in brand-led environmental communications.
In recent months they’ve created online resources launched by world figures such as Rupert Murdoch and Tony Blair, and designed virtual cities and underwater reefs that help employees achieve environmental targets.
As Duncan Gardner explains “Our work is transforming employees into mini environmentalists so they understand the issues and spread the word, but equally important, they’re also connecting with the brand.”
Corporate Change Management
Change is healthy and, for any organisation with its sights set on the future, it’s essential for growth and success. But change also sends out shock waves, the biggest of which occurs during company acquisitions. If communication channels are not properly used at this time you can be sure people will become more concerned about their role and their future – and forget all about the job of stabilising the business.
Overcoming these problems by managing change is an important skill for any company. That’s why a well-executed internal communications plan is so vital. The messages that make up the plan not only encourage all employees to work together but also help them understand their role, the vision of the company and give individuals the chance to play their part in the future.
For change to be effective it needs to be implemented at all levels: embedded in the culture of the organisation. The decision makers should never forget that change is a major cause of stress amongst the workforce because of the fear of the unknown. Getting staff motivated to support the changes to be implemented is crucial for success.
As James Norrington explains, “The best employee communication is all about communicating the right things in the right way and in a way that will build trust between the company and the employee. Communications that simply ‘happen’ rarely achieve the results that you’re looking for”
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