Employees are perhaps the most important instrument in a marketer’s toolbox. For one, they control a large part of the customer experience as the face of the brand they represent. But they are also its eyes and ears. This is why the best B2B brands include employees as part of the discovery process of any brand strategy initiative.
There are several ways to include employees in brand research. At the executive or managerial level, conducting one-on-one interviews are an effective way to gain an in-depth understanding of brand-related opportunities and challenges. But to get a full picture of how a brand is lived day-to-day, it is important to collect information from many employees. For a company-wide view of your internal landscape, online-based surveys are the most efficient way to mine information from a larger pool of employees.
Getting employees involved at the start of a brand-building process helps ensure that, ultimately, a brand strategy is authentic, impactful and, most importantly, successful. Here’s why:
- Employees reveal current internal culture and understanding of the existing brand.Conducting a brand-related employee survey at the beginning of a brand engagement allows a company to benchmark its starting point and help build an accurate depiction of the brand image. What is the personality of the company’s corporate culture? How do employees describe the brand today? Is this the same way they should describe it in the future?
- Do employees understand a company’s vision and mission? Maybe not. Ideally, an organization with a strong sense of brand should have every employee telling the same story in a similar way. It is only when employees truly understand the strategic direction of the company that they are able to help the company achieve that vision. How well do employees understand the current strategy? Do they all have a similar version of the company’s mission or, in the absence of clarity, are they making something up? Do they understand how their job fits into the long-term goals of the company?
- Employees help identify gaps between the internal and external perceptions of the brand. In many instances, the employee view of the company is different from the way customers perceive it. When this is the case, employees may focus on cultivating an attribute that customers don’t find particularly important, while highly valued corporate strengths are left unsupported. Identifying any gaps between the internal and external views allows companies to later choose tactics to connect those differences. For example, employees may tout a value message, when customers will pay more to a company with 24/7 responsiveness.
- Employees can flag potential challenges. Are there any extraneous factors that may affect the roll-out of an evolved brand strategy? Surveying the employees before building the brand strategy helps companies understand the level of internal change necessary to carry out a supportable brand promise. For example, are there any cultural or operational roadblocks that would keep a company from delivering on an “innovation” message? Can poor morale negate a stellar service record?
- Employees like being involved in important company initiatives. A brand evolution is an exciting initiative. By including employees at the beginning of an engagement, the entire company becomes unified under a common goal. More importantly, asking employees for their opinion shows them that leadership cares about what they have to say. This executive vote of confidence can build good will which — down the line — will allow a company to foster an enthusiastic organization ready to champion the new brand.
Once insights from employees have been gathered, the company is well positioned to begin building a strong, credible and inspiring brand.
Learn about how to operationalize the brand with engaged employees.