Branding, Identity, and Showcasing the Real You
Take a look at your company’s external-facing website. Based strictly on the website content, what does your organization promote?
Many companies focus on their products, services, or influence in the marketplace, community, and industry. It’s rarely about their people – you know, the associates, the employees – who make the products, serve the clients, customers, and vendors, and influence the communities in which they work and live.
I’ve seen organizations purport to focus on their employees, only to leave a sour taste in the reader’s mouth because the content sounds and feels disingenuous. You’ve probably seen this … there’s clearly an ulterior motive behind the message (come buy our product or use our services).
When I was responsible for a major branding project very early in my career, my desire was to strongly play upon the organization’s strengths – that “one thing” that set us apart from our competitors and other businesses in the communities in which we operated. Of course, it was our people! The expertise, knowledge, and longevity of our employees made us unique; we were unified in our purpose and strove to be the very best in all we did. You could feel the camaraderie, teamwork, and fun in our facilities. The culture was one of growth and development, both for our employees and for the products and services we offered, as well. With little thought or hesitation, the CEO agreed to my proposal that the focus should be on our employees, to let their stories be told, and to allow the image of us grow and prosper throughout our social media and marketing materials.
What did we do?
We emphasized our organizational values through the stories of our employees. Some employees were asked to share the connection between their personal values and those of the company via videotape, while others wrote testimonials that conveyed their appreciation for a business that “really cared.”
We designed a mentoring program for all new hires and promoted employees. We lived out the values of “excellence, accountability, and safety” in our daily walk and used this program to exemplify the behaviors and habits expected from everyone.
We designed a long-term leadership development program that fed into our succession planning program. Employees knew the multiple career paths available for them and what they needed to do to drive their career.
We designed a hands-on onboarding program for all new hires. The focus was a multi-tiered approach. Instead of diving into all the “paperwork and documentation” typically fed through a firehose the first week of hire, our program was spread across a 6-month period with weekly touchpoints, policy and procedure review, and step-level discussions to ensure the employee was engaged, learning, developing, and producing. Taking care of the employee was the first step in our retention strategy.
What does all of this have to do with branding? We learned very early on that branding was about “identity” and if we could speak to, show, and demonstrate the identity important within the organization, we would hire and retain top talent. Richard Branson is quoted as saying: “Train your people well enough so they can leave; treat them well enough that they don’t want to.” This was a mantra we believed in, and our branding reflected that our people came first.
The branding project was very successful; our employees felt special while telling their stories, thereby influencing future generations. Our website marketing highlighted the internal programs offered to grow and develop employees, which in turn brought in higher caliber, more experienced talent. Customers reaped the benefit of happy employees who served them with smiles, gratitude, and care. Our safety numbers improved because we genuinely cared for and watched each other’s backs. The list of positives was great and long-lasting, significantly impacting profit.
Cultivating a culture of trust and respect is not free; it requires an investment. We had to ensure we did what we said and leaned into transparency as often as possible. One example is the ongoing time and financial commitment to both get the original stories and document new successes.
It was worth every moment and every penny! When employees like – dare I say, “love!” – coming to work (in-person, remote, or hybrid) productivity, accuracy, and quality increases. Teamwork thrives. Smiles abound. Connections are made and maintaining them is intentional.
What is your organization’s identity? Does your branding and marketing emphasize the people who drive your results? Are your leaders and employees actively living out, in word and action, the values that the organization says it holds dear?
If your organization is having an identity crisis or if you want to future-proof against one, let’s chat. We’ll unpack some of your pain points (like not getting the results from your strategy, failing to meet deadlines, discontent within a team, lack of collaboration between or among departments, productivity challenges) and identify a few things you can do immediately to address that pain. The investment is just 30 minutes of your time and a commitment of taking the next step.
P.S. Book a Complimentary Strategy Session so we can get you moving in the right direction; click on my Complimentary Strategy Session calendar link here and let’s book a time together so you can get started today!
P.P.S. With over three decades of professional experience in corporate operations and executive human resources, I am a proven results-driven leader. My expertise includes strategy, change management, talent management and organizational development, employee relations, and executive and leadership coaching. I am a highly effective communicator and team leader with demonstrated ability to build long-term relationships across internal and external customer environments built with integrity, confidence, authenticity, and trust.