Join the Marching Brand

Mark Didriksen of Jack Morton Worldwide offers a thoughtful study of "brand training." Instead of giving such exposure to a company's brand short shrift by relegating it to new-employee orientation — or leaving it to HR rather than the marketing department — Didriksen suggests that organizations put more thought behind customers' interactions and how employees represent the company and everything it stands for.

This isn't just for event marketers or field sales people, either. It's for everyone. Just look at the impact that Fred Harvey, his restaurants — and his Harvey Girls — had on the Santa Fe Railroad in the late 1800s. And think about the old-school stereotypical IBM employee and the lasting impression they leave.

How do you — and your company — inculcate brand values in employees? Do you pay attention to how employees reflect and represent the core of your business?

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2 Comments

  • Jim Berkowitz

    I understand the importance of "brand" and the need to have its messaging clearly communicated verbally, in various media formats and maybe most importantly, via the interactions of the company's people with prospects and customers.

    But when you get employees focused on "branding" and communicating company/product messaging, they are being encouraged to behave in a company-centric rather then in a customer-centric manner.

    More and more, companies are beginning to realize that because of global competition, maturing markets, (internet) empowered buyers, etc., etc., it's becoming very difficult to compete on product, price or for that matter, brand.

    This is beginning to cause a shift within many organizations to more customer-focused strategies. Rather then having customer-facing personnel delivering its company messaging (branding, etc.), they having them concentrate on getting to know their customers (i.e. the people at their customer companies) better then their competitors.

    At the recent CustomerThink Executive Summit, Gary Lutz, the Commercial Banking National Sales Manager for Wells Fargo Bank noted: Knowing your prospects and customers means knowing: What keeps them up at night? How they define success and failure? Where they want to go & when (career-wise)? What's on their wish list? And, how do they make decisions?

    It's so much easier to get people to ask these types of questions, to then shut up, listen and document the customers' answers in a CRM system then it is to train them to effectively communicate corporate/product branding messaging.

    More importantly, I would argue that effectively using "quality" information gathered from customers (about THEIR needs, wants and desires) would have a far greater and more positive impact on customer acquisition, loyalty and retention then any branding effort would ever have!

  • Elizabeth

    I am also disturbed by the usage of "inculcate" in terms of branding. To me, this implies control of the employee. Also, scripted "corporate speak" messages are quickly detected by the audiences' BS meter, shutting down the speaker's ability to persuade them to do anything.

    I like to think of "brand training" in a different way. It is about helping employees tell their stories about the organization using their own words and personal experiences, anecdotes etc. We view the brand/key messages as a framework upon which an employee, executive etc. builds his or her story.

    Training, then, consists of helping employees (or executives, board members, etc.) identify how their personal experiences in working with the company can tie into the messages, and then how to appropriately link them together.

    Clearly, this method gives up the security of "controlling messages," but control was an illusion anyways.