By Paul Hitchens
Paul Hitchens will be at the Employee Engagement Summit 2014.
Successful Brands are like famous personalities, they have special ways of doing things that we instantly recognise and grow to expect. They have a distinctive look, feel and tone of voice that we associate with them. If you consider your brand as a living personality you will find it easier to bring it to life and create meaning. Managing a successful brand is about knowing the brand thoroughly so that you can instinctively guide it through the stages of growth to provide a consistent experience to its audience. The Walt Disney Company has an Institute dedicated to best practices in leadership; culture; customer experience; brand loyalty; creativity and innovation. The success of a brand is largely due to employees who share a commitment to the brands ethos and ideals and are empowered to act intuitively to deliver the brand promise. As the employees or ‘cast members’ at Disney would say ‘what would Walt do?’
Disney resorts are held in high esteem as a glowing example of Employee Engagement and healthy corporate culture. The staff at Disney Resorts are called Cast members which reflects their collective involvement in putting on a good show and entertaining families of all ages. In 2010, my wife and I took our two excited young sons for a weekend break to Disney Land Paris. There’s a lot riding on the outcome of a trip like this; parents want a stress free break and their children to have wonderful time, but what about a magical experience? It wasn’t until the end of a long day of queues that the real magic happened. The four of us were standing on the side of Main Street for the big parade. This is when all the principal Disney characters march down the main thoroughfare at Disney Land Paris and put on a carnival. I was aware of a small family group in my peripheral vision, two parents and an adolescent son in a wheel chair. It struck me that they had gone to some lengths to be here and this was a special time for them. At that moment some of the Disney characters peeled off from the parade and made straight for the wheel chair bound youth and shook his hand and danced with his parents. I realised in a moment that these unscripted moments, when employees are given license to bring a brand to life and act on instinct, enrich their careers and are the true test of the brand promise. I vividly remember the look of joy shared by that family which radiated so positively; this was a magical moment that surpassed my expectations.
The Mindful Employer Brand
A vibrant Employer Brand is a precious asset that attracts loyal customers who value dealing with engaged employees. That’s why people are prepared to pay more shopping at Waitrose, it may not be the cheapest Supermarket, but it offers the best customer experience. Sadly this is not commonplace and a failing in Corporate Culture has been behind some of the biggest headlines since the credit crunch of 2008. It is now sadly familiar to read of Executives that have been financially rewarded for failure. How many people turn a blind eye to an employee’s damaging actions before alerting the appropriate authorities? Some of the most respected and trusted brands have taken a spectacular fall from grace and caused us to question their institutionalised behaviour. How can an organisation inspire and create a culture with a strong moral compass that guides its employees on a path to fulfilling the brand promise?
A thriving Employer Brand will naturally retain its best people and have an advantage when competing for the best candidates to fill vacancies. The mindful Employer Brand promotes a healthy culture where employee health and wellbeing are essential to delivering the number one touchpoint, its people! The mindful Employer Brand offers a unique working experience that is designed to attract people who share it’s values and are encouraged to flourish within its culture.
We are all familiar with the phrase ‘institutionalised behaviour’ applied in a negative context, but what makes some organisations thrive and attract like minded people who together build a winning formula of ‘esprit de corps’?
It is evident that there is a necessity for well-defined values in creating a shared moral perspective to guide and encourage the successful behaviour of an organisation.
In two years of asking delegates in my Employer Branding workshops to reveal their favourite brand, I very rarely hear anyone respond with the name of the organisation that they work for. We spend the majority of our lives at work and our work forms part of our conversation with friends and families.
Brand delivery through employees
Each member of staff is a brand ambassador, from the credit controller to the delivery driver. Their behaviour can influence the perception of the brand and their actions create touchpoints that affect customers, for example an incorrect invoice or a badly driven vehicle will reflect poorly on the brand. It is essential that each individual member of staff understands the brand strategy and is able to interpret it in relation to their role.
Whoever is in charge, is ultimately responsible for the brand and as the brand’s champion it is their duty to protect and fight for the brand’s reputation. If they cannot get passionate and enthusiastic about their own business, who will? Employees have to have someone to look up to, and the natural role models are the brand’s champion, and their line managers. Employees are more likely to embrace the brand if they are set a good example by their leadership and can only advocate the brand when it is fully understood.
It is no coincidence that some of the world’s most successful brands are also the most desirable to work for. Informed, sincere employees add an emotional dimension that no advertising, sales brochure or website can provide. A business can create an experience that is harder to emulate by attracting and retaining engaged people who exemplify the brands values. Employees really do have the potential to be a brands greatest asset.
In my next Blog I will reflect on the Employee Engagement Summit 2014 at The Kensington Close Hotel, London on April 3rd.
Blog: Paul Hitchens is Author of ‘Create the Perfect Brand’ and ‘Successful Brand Management – In a Week’ published by Hodder Education. He is the Course Director for ‘Brand Strategy & HR’ hosted by Symposium Training.
Paul will be at the Employee Engagement Summit 2014 on the 3rd April at The Kensington Close Hotel, London.
Brand Strategy and Human Resources – Building the Employer Brand
21 May 2014 – London
2 July 2014 – Birmingham
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