Mission PossibleMission Possible

BRAND ENGAGEMENT

INTERNAL

There are two broad areas where brand engagement is relevant within an organization. The first area is ensuring that the employer brand promised to employees is delivered upon once employees join the firm. If the employee experience is not what is promised, this could result in increased employee turnover and/or decreased performance.

The second area is ensuring employees and close stakeholders of an organization completely understand the organization’s brand, and what it stands for—and to make sure that their activities on a day-to-day basis are contributing to expressing that brand through the customer experience. In general, this requires an ongoing effort on the part of the organization to ensure that its employees and close stakeholders understand what the brand is promising to its customers, and to help all employees clearly understand how their actions and behaviors, on a day-to-day basis, either support or undermine the effort.

This often raises the issue of the value of investment in “brand engagement.” It is a discretionary expense on the part of the organization. Proponents of brand engagement would argue that this is an investment—that is, the benefits to the organization outweigh the cost of the program.

Within any organization there is competition for resources, so there is a significant need to demonstrate return on investment in employee engagement/internal communications. While it is generally accepted that it is important for internal communications professionals to demonstrate the value this function delivers to the organization, it is difficult to place a discrete figure on this contribution. Best practice in internal communications generally adheres to certain principles:

  • Understanding the stakeholder (audiences).

  • Knowing what messages and information is appropriate for each audience.

  • Ensuring that there is a feedback mechanism in place so communication is a dialogue.

  • Measuring effectiveness.

  • Enhancing participation and collaboration.

An aspect of internal brand engagement is brand orientation which refers to “the degree to which the organization values brands and its practices are oriented towards building brand capabilities.” Thought leaders are increasingly placing employee engagement at the forefront of the fight for greater authenticity in the workplace, increased employee satisfaction and ultimately greater retention and improved customer service. They are passionate about the link to bottom line benefits and strongly advocate working on brands from the inside out. There are a range of experts and service providers who have created offers to bring the brand to life—all agree that the employee side of the equation is far more important than has been historically acknowledged.

Brand engagement among employees is, according to experts, becoming increasingly important as the speed and volume of customer word of mouth is greater than ever. Several major brands – including United Airlines, Comcast, and FedEx – have seen negative customer experiences spark viral videos that are seen by millions of people. Building an understanding of the brand among employees is seen as a way to avoid these incidents and, within this environment, as a way to drive positive reviews and word of mouth.

EXTERNAL

Brand engagement between a brand and its consumers/potential consumers is a key objective of a brand marketing effort. In general, the ways a brand connects to its consumer is via a range of “touch-points” that is, a sequence or list of potential ways the brand makes contact with the individual. Examples include retail environments, advertising, word of mouth, online, and the product/service itself.

Reference:

Brand Engagement (Ian P Buckingham), Palgrave Macmillan, London 2007

Brand Champions (Ian P Buckingham), Palgrave Macmillan, London 2011

STRATEGY

PLANNING

DESIGN

EXECUTION