Think about an Oreo cookie. It's basically got two parts to it. It's made up from a scrumptious combination of white frosting called Stuf, hugged between two crumbly black biscuits (craving Oreos yet?).
Branding is exactly the same. It’s the combination of your inner and outer elements. The inner part (Stuf) being the company's culture, its employees and other internal stuff (pun intended) that the consumer might not directly see. The outer part (black biscuits) representing the packaging, logo design, colour palette and other things that dress your business in recognisable wrapping. All of this is what makes a brand great and instil a kind of obsession in your consumers that have them use your product over and over again.
The Stuf, however, is what holds the two biscuits together and when that part is all messed up or nonexistent, the cookie is a rather disappointing experience. This is why investing in the right recipe to keep the business from crumbling is imperative.
As an agency, designing the outer wrapping - the brand's identity - is often one of the easiest outputs of branding. If the brand strategy is done right, the design path is clear and the designer knows exactly where they need to end up. But very often clients forget that it's a very specific recipe that makes a brand successful and it can not stop at the design phase.
Employee brand programmes are one of the essential "Stuf" ingredients in making the whole brand experience a desirable one. A brand exercise, whether it is a brand refresh, strategy, positioning or communication program, means very little if it is not understood, communicated and lived by those employees and departments that talk to, or has direct or indirect contact with, the customer. And in reality, this includes every single department in a business. See, it's one thing for upper management to understand and support what an agency has done in terms of branding, but it is money wasted when the brand is not weaved into the people that walk and talk it on a daily basis. And it starts with training HR to hire people that are going to be enthusiastic about living the brand and believes in its promise.
A 6-month employee brand program will deliver far more benefits, in the long run, than an advertising campaign or a few PR releases to raise a brand's image.
And sure enough, we have clients that do a training session on the brand every six months and although this comes with all the right intentions it is ineffective because of the following reasons:
• Employees feel like they are receiving a lecture and within the first few minutes you see eyes rolling and you can almost hear them thinking “another boring global brand presentation”
• There are no ideas sharing and brainstorming sessions. Or if there are, these ideas almost never realise and employees have an "all for nothing" feeling towards this.
• It's great on the theory part but lacks practical examples.
• Lower level employees don't feel like they are considered when upper management makes brand decisions.
If your employees understand the brand, its strengths, its weaknesses, key messages and all other branding related stuff, your customer will experience a brand that leaves behind a taste that is unforgettable, addictive and memorable. Having employees that deliver on the brand promise to the brand's customers is the truest, most trustworthy and frankly inexpensive way to have a brand presence.
This is the exact reason why we developed the Brand Guardianship. Depending on what the brand needs we develop a program to guide the brand, make sure that branding is done from the inside out and not the other way around and we aim for long term gains and not short term results.