Brace yourself. A major Gallup study found that less than half of employees – only 41% – feel they know what their company stands for and what makes its brand different from competitors’ brands.* Ouch! Your employees represent your brand every day to customers, prospects, family, and friends. If they don’t have your message right, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Here are five things you can do about it right now…
1. Define what makes you different. It may be obvious to you, but not everyone has the advantage of seeing the company from your perspective. Employees need a simple, clear, memorable explanation of what makes your company or brand unique.
- Make it about your customers, not about you. Focus on the unique ways you’re changing your customer’s world, and less about how great you are.
- Keep it short, sticky, and repeatable. Give your people one or two clear things to remember, not 100 things.
2. Try saying it without using the words “quality”, “excellence”, or “leader”. Every company in the world says they strive for excellence. They all say they’re leaders. Generalities like these may be true of your company, but they’re not differentiators. Instead, find a surprising, unexpected, or heartfelt way to talk about how your company is changing your customer’s world.
3. Give the back story. Employees need to know why. Why was your company (or brand or service or process) started in the first place? Why is it still here today? Why do you offer this particular service? Why are you bringing out that new product?
- Describe what’s going on in the market. Explain how you arrived at your conclusions.
- Paint the picture in detail. Don’t just “sell” the new idea, but teach it.
- Anticipate questions and pushback – and have honest, meaningful answers.
4. Say it a million times in a million ways. Employees won’t adopt your message just because you announced it once in a company meeting and gave everyone a ballpoint pen with your slogan on it. Employees need to hear your brand message over and over and over again.
- Use it often in everyday conversations. Include it in presentations. Get leaders saying it to their teams, sales professionals to their prospects, CRSs to customers,….
- Put it everywhere. You want versions of it hanging on your office walls, sitting on your desks, and displayed on your website.
- Send out frequent internal emails that reference it. Keep the chatter alive.
5. Bring proof. Lots of it. Employees are skeptics. Just like you. They know the difference between a real commitment and corporate platitudes. So they’re looking to see if your brand message is grounded in reality (real investment, real change in the way you do things, real commitment from senior executives, real proof from your customers or market, real ties to things like performance reviews and compensation).
You can never stop doing all of this.
Employees need to know that your brand message is as true, relevant, and important today as it was six months ago when they first heard it in a company meeting. Keep this conversation going – and they’ll be telling the truth about your brand to everyone they encounter.
*SOURCE: Gallup State of the American Workplace report for 2013