Ever since the advent of so-called “new media,” marketers have known the importance of integrating their efforts across all marketing platforms – advertising, web, collateral, social, mobile, etc. – originally, perhaps, with the hope of catching our targeted prospects and customers in one way or another by casting a wide net. Then, we realized that, if we were lucky enough to have them see us in more than one of these channels, our message was reinforced and it led to a 1+1 = 3 effect.
There is one opportunity, though, that is often overlooked that can ignite a brand exponentially. Forget addition – this is about multiplication! When we expand the responsibility of cultivating our brand outside the marketing department to every person in the company, a brand becomes immensely more powerful. Of course this is not a ground breaking discovery – companies like Disney, Zappos and Quicken Loans have been doing this for some time now. I would venture to say, though, that the vast majority of companies have not realized the full potential of their culture to drive their brand. For some, they’ve just not put the focus there. For others, managing the company culture seems like something that’s HR’s responsibility. For many, it seems like a daunting task – to shift an entire sea of associates to become brand ambassadors. No matter the reason, leaving the power of your company culture untapped is an enormous missed opportunity for marketers.
Assuming your company already has a meaningful, compelling, clear brand strategy supported by your company’s vision and mission, my suggestion is to simply jump in and get started. And keep it simple – don’t get hung up developing an incredibly complex culture strategy. Start by training your associates on your brand – describe the brand personality, tone of voice, value proposition and market positioning you’re aiming for in the marketplace and how that supports the company’s vision and mission. As a starting point, every person on your marketing team and your executive team should be able to describe your brand in a few short words/statements…and they should all be saying the exact same thing! When you can get ALL your associates saying these same things, then you have really integrated your culture and your brand.
After your company is trained, simply start somewhere and make incremental changes. Update your phone greetings to reflect your brand personality, provide your associates with an email signature template that consistently reinforces your brand, give your associates a certificate to select some free logowear so they can show pride in their brand, start a new recognition program that rewards associates for on-brand actions they take with your customers. The ideas are endless and oftentimes simple but they will add up to something really meaningful.
As you create a whole company of brand ambassadors, you’ll soon be multiplying your reach. They will reinforce your brand in their day-to-day work, spread your messages through word of mouth and engage in social media. If you’re a service brand and don’t have a tangible hands-on product to sell, engaging your associates in your brand is the single most important thing you can do. They are the ones who will deliver on the brand promises you make in the marketplace day in and day out. This reminds me of a thought my favorite brand strategist once shared: “Every action or inaction has the power to polish or tarnish a brand. Nothing is neutral.” Your associates can add great value to your brand if given the right training, incentives and examples. Before you know it, your associates will even be serving as “brand police” because they care about the brand as much as the marketing department does!
Tammy is one of the featured speakers at The Integrated Marketing Summit in Cincinnati on July 30, 2014. She’ll be co-presenting a session with Hallie Montague, Marketing Director at EyeMed, on this topic. They’ll be joined by other thought leaders from IBM, Oracle, Intel, Coca-Cola, Gyro, Adobe, ConAgra and more for a best-practices filled day at the downtown Hyatt. There are a few discounted spots still available – if you use this link to register now http://bit.ly/1mGkzsW using code IMSEB25 — chances are good you’ll get 25% off the already low price. Go register – now!
Bio: Tammy Nelson has served as the head of marketing for three insurance companies and is currently the Chief Marketing Officer at American Modern in Cincinnati, OH. She is passionate about connecting strategy, brand and culture to drive success in both the B2B and B2C space.