This year we have examined several elements of your branding, from your logo to your storefront. As we close out 2016, we want to focus on something that is likely at the heart of your business, your employees. As your business grows you find that you can’t do everything (and you probably shouldn’t try), so you bring employees into your company. Now, there are plenty of places to find information about hiring, managing, and firing, that’s not what we are going to talk about. We are going to talk about employees as they relate to your brand.
Chances are, employees are the people your customers interact with the most. Most new employee training programs focus on teaching new hires how to do their jobs. This is a necessary and valuable part of the training process. However, a key part that should not be overlooked is training your new employees about WHO you are. Take a lesson from Disney, and teach the why behind the what. Make sure your employees know how and why the company got started. Why are you located where you are? Why do you carry certain products? What are the things that make your business unique? Employees that have this background aren’t just more informed, they tend to be more engaged.
Arming your employees with this information will help them have more meaningful interactions with your customer. You are the Brand Manager. You set the the tone, the direction, and the message. Your employees are the Brand Ambassadors who carry that message through to your customers, who in turn become your brand advocates. When it all works right, you have a growing list of raving fans, which starts a positive cycle of new customer acquisition and sales.
Now, of course you need to choose the right employees. Don’t try to find someone who is as dedicated to your business as you – that person doesn’t exist. You want to find people who are at least capable of being excited about your company and what you do, and is willing to learn and work to make the business better. Then train them, nurture them, and give them the freedom to do their jobs and be excited about it.
There, of course, is a flip side to employees turn. Occasionally, you will have an employee who either doesn’t fit your culture or for whatever reason has fallen out of love with your company or the career. They go through the motions, but often have a poor attitude and don’t go the extra mile they once did. These employees can often influence other employees and customers negatively, bringing the entire mood of your business down. I am very fond of a saying that our boss here has; “It isn’t the employees you let go that hurt the business the most, it is the ones you keep when you shouldn’t”. This is true for every organization. No one wants to be the bad guy and part ways with employees, but sometimes it is a necessity. Employees may be good at their job, but if they are hurting your brand do you want to keep them on the payroll? Each business and each situation is different so that is one you’ll have to figure out for yourself, but make sure you are considering how employees affect your brand during your evaluation process.
Your employees are a key to your business, and they are your front line when it comes to your brand. Make sure that you have given them the tools they need to be brand ambassadors and involve them in enhancing that brand. If you have questions about your brand or want suggestions on how to engage your employees, contact a professional and have them help you understand and improve your brand!