In our previous blog post, we discussed the importance of ensuring that your brand is properly aligned and updated throughout your business, including marketing materials (business cards, brochures and fliers), your website and other places both online and offline. Now, it’s time to discuss the importance of making sure your employees are “on-point” with your branding.
Branding And Your Employees
Your branding, at its core, is both a manifestation and representation of your business – its personality, its values and, most importantly, what it can offer a potential client, customer or donor. Every element of your branding, including your logo, tagline and color scheme, tells a story. Does it tell the public that your business is serious or playful, cutting-edge or traditional, or even serene or disruptive? In order to be effective for your particular company, it must accurately represent your personality and put your best face forward. Now that you’ve ensured that marketing materials, digital assets and other items connected to your business are properly branded and aligned, it’s important to make sure that employees and volunteers are accurately and consistently representing your branding elements to clients, customers, donors and the general public.
Employees: Branding On The Outside
The first step to ensuring that your employees are properly representing your brand is ensuring that they are presenting a unified and consistent image in their personal appearance. For many businesses, especially businesses in dining and retail, employee appearance is already defined and enforced based on a dress code that includes uniforms and strict guidelines for personal appearance; other businesses have no guidelines or codes in place. If a business chooses not to require a uniform or enforce a strict dress code, this is not necessary negative – it’s only harmful if the “non-policy” doesn’t represent the branding or values of the business. If you do enforce a uniform or dress code, or require that employees wear clothing that is color-coordinated to your color scheme, make sure that the uniform or clothing is consistent, in good shape and actually meets the uniform policy or dress code. If your company has a vehicle, or if your employees drive their own vehicles with decals representing your business, make sure that the vehicles also align with your branding in a similar fashion. If decals or paints are scratched or fading, consider repairing them, or if the vehicle’s paint is fading, consider a fresh paint job for the entire vehicle.
Employees: Branding On The Inside
The next step to ensuring your employees are aligned and “on-point” with your marketing is to review employee behavior, interactions and communications. It is important to note that we are not suggesting that your employees may be acting improperly or unprofessionally, but that it is important to ensure that your employees are reflecting the personality and values of your brand when interacting with customers and with other employees. This can be as simple as encouraging them to utilize a variation of your tagline when completing a phone call, or it can be as complicated as asking an employee to adjust their attitude, tone of voice or choice of words when interacting with a client or customer. If your branding is communicating warmth and friendliness, an email to a client or customer that is curt and overtly professional isn’t necessary improper or wrong, but still represents a misalignment of your brand. If you are unable to actively monitor your employees, consider presenting a survey or questionnaire to your clients or customers that will request feedback. With the results, you can determine what impression your customers have of your business and your brand after they were through talking with one of your employees.
The Hardest Step? Stepping In Front Of The Mirror!
You may have noticed that, up until this point, we have discussed ways to ensure that your employees are aligned and accurately representing your brand – now it’s time to ask, are you aligned with, and properly representing, your brand? Self-reflection and assessment can be difficult for a number of reasons, but it may present not just an opportunity for self-improvement, but also a motivation to rebrand. If you are the primary face of your company, and you are misrepresenting your own brand through your appearance, personality and messaging, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change, but it may mean that your brand has to change. If you align your branding more closely with your own personality, appearance and personal and professional attributes, you may experience more successful client and customer interactions – and more repeat clients and customers!