Why your staff are your biggest brand champions

By giving employees a higher sense of purpose than profit, you can make them storytellers for your brand.

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If employees believe in you and the work you’re doing, they will passionately tell your story

In his new monthly column for BCBusiness, branding expert Ben Baker shares his insights into how to communicate value effectively, so people want to listen and engage. In the end, it’s about creating influence through trust.

The No. 1 thing I hear from my clients is the challenge they have with disengaged employees. They talk of turnover and complain about staff being disloyal. Sound familiar?

My retort to them is: What are you doing to turn your employees into brand champions?

Like customers, employees are loyal when given reason to be. If they only receive a job and a paycheque, they can get that anywhere. There are thousands of jobs being offered online every day, and at least one of them will sound more interesting than the one they currently have. If employees feel that they have no value in the organization and don’t see chances to grow and learn, they’re compelled to search for other opportunities.

How do you stop this? How do you provide people with the desire to stay, and to be active participants in the company, productive contributors and champions of the brand? It goes far beyond foosball tables, beanbag chairs and free-beer Fridays.

In today’s work arena, employees are looking for purpose before profit. They want to understand first how their jobs matter, not only to the company they work for but to the clients they support and the world around them. They want to understand where the company has been, where it is now, what value it provides and to whom, and, most important, where the company is going and how each employee fits into the larger picture.

People also want to know how their contribution drives the mission and vision forward and helps to achieve the company’s goals.

They need to believe in the mission, vision and goals and see that they are not just words on a page or images on the wall but lived authentically by everyone in the company. They want to believe that how the business acts and reacts derives from those values and mission and that there’s a higher sense of purpose than just pure profit.

Mark LeBusque joined me on the January 23 YourLivingBrand show from Australia to talk about people, purpose and profit. If we focus on people first and the purpose of the company second, the profit will come naturally. However, if we focus on profit first and give lip service to purpose, people will disappear.

We need to give our employees a reason to believe in us! If they do, they’ll be the storytellers for our brand. Whether it’s through social media or engagement with friends and family, employees are talking about your brand. Wouldn’t you rather they talk positively about it and are passionate advocates for you and your mission instead of dissenters? Every single employee has a voice and a medium to use it; why not enable them to use their voices in a positive way that adds value to your brand and enables your customers to understand your value to them?

It is vital for the survival of every brand that employees speak passionately about it. If the people within the company cannot advocate for the brand and spread the word about value and purpose, no one will!

Yes, you can spend thousands, if not millions, of dollars creating a brand image and marketing that image to the general population. However, your brand is only as strong as it’s perceived, and if potential clients only encounter apathetic and uninspired employees, they’re left to wonder: why am I spending my money here?

So what do you do? Communicate, train, lead, coach, listen, and be prepared to evaluate current practices and augment them or change them completely.

There is no quick fix! There is no hack!

This process takes time, dedication and a willingness for people at all levels of the organization to change and live its mission and vision daily.

In summary, invest in real change. You’ll be amazed at how it will turn lacklustre employees into real champions of the brand and accelerate your company’s fortunes.

Ben Baker is the author of Powerful Personal Brands: A Hands-on Guide to Understanding Yours and provides workshops, keynotes and consulting on effective communication inside and outside the company, as well as branding and brand strategy. He believes that every brand needs to stop acting like a commodity and instead be one worth loving.  

Ben writes regularly online for Insurance Nerds, BCBusinessInfluential People Magazine, PPB Magazine and Business Unplugged with Carol Roth. He’s also the host of the iHeart Radio syndicated Your Living Brand show, which airs every Wednesday at 10 a.m. PST.

You can download a free book chapter, contact Ben at Your Brand Marketing to help you or your organization communicate more effectively, or hire him to speak.