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Brand Management Manifesto

May 17, 2018
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Effective brand management requires developing a good relationship with your target. If I were to ask you, “Who makes up your ‘target market’,” I’m sure I would receive answers that include both existing customers and potential customers.

These are accurate responses, but how many of you would have included “employees” as a target market for your brand?

As marketing leaders, it is imperative that we think of brand management in the three pillars that make up our brand: Market, Customers and Employees. All three are critical to the strength of our brand.   

My challenge to you: evenly distribute your brand management time and deliverables across all three pillars. I would wager that we spend the majority of our brand management time conducting customer surveys, embarking on arduous customer journey mapping, and strategizing ways we might be able to gain market share by positioning and delivering a unique value proposition of products and services. We dedicate very little time to managing the brand with employees.

Raddon’s Employee Viewpoint Survey finds that 55 percent of employees are disengaged with the brand of the typical financial institution. A remarkable 29 percent are “detached”: actively disruptive and negative toward the institution, even sabotaging the company goals and objectives. When you think about the investment of time and money put toward improving the customer experience, how much of that investment has been put toward managing the engagement of your workforce?

By not managing your brand with employees, you run the risk of disrupting your brand with your customers. When your customers encounter a negative experience with a detached or complacent employee, that experience will ultimately negatively impact the brand in your market.

Employee Brand Management by Way of Impactful Internal Communications

The quickest way to increase employee engagement is to help employees understand the company vision, how their role impacts the success of that vision, and how their job impacts the bottom line. As a marketing leader, how often are you communicating the company vision to employees throughout the organization? Too often, we overlook and underestimate internal communications activities.

Just as you would formulate a marketing strategy and drill down to specific tactics to execute on that strategy, so must your internal communications activities follow the same path. You need to develop a specific strategy to create a tactical plan that involves identifying your audience, channels to use, the way you engage with and seek feedback from associates, and the way you measure success, identify issues and highlight best practices.

When I was leading a marketing department, my internal communications activities consisted of sending an email to branch management, announcing upcoming marketing campaigns with an outline of each campaign that included any specific incentives, the channels used to target our customers and/or prospects, and the goal of the campaign. I would then post the overview to an intranet with any supporting creative content. I would also host a monthly call with management reviewing upcoming campaigns and addressing any questions they might have. That was it.

I learned the hard way that this was not enough. There were far too many questions I continuously had to address, and too many associates were disengaged with the campaigns.

That’s when I took a new approach and made internal communications my number one priority. I formalized a robust program that involved both passive and interactive delivery channels, creating transparency with campaign results and employee engagement measurement. As engagement improved, so did satisfaction levels of my customers and ultimately, the brand equity in my markets increased.

These are some of what I consider the key strategies and tactics that drive success for employee brand management:

Align Marketing and Retail Banking Leadership

Brand management is all about developing relationships. To make an impact with employee engagement, you must begin with your relationship with Retail Banking leadership. Marketing goals and Retail Banking goals must be aligned. This shouldn’t be too difficult to accomplish, because ideally, both areas should have goals that are attributable to the overarching goals of the organization. Marketing leaders and Retail Banking leaders should establish regular meetings both in person and over the phone to ensure your goals and initiatives are meaningful to each other. Retail Banking leaders can provide valuable insights as to how engaged their employees are, what might be hindering engagement, and how engagement might be improved.

Establish Two-Way Communication

When you send an email or post content on an intranet, you are using what is considered a “passive” channel. These are one-way communication tools. When you are over-reliant on this technology, you could actually be lowering the quality of your communications, because communication is about relationships as well as information. That is why it is critical to leverage “interactive” channels, or establish two-way communication.

These channels include:

  • Biannual face-to-face branch visits
  • Biannual “lunch and learns” for all branches/departments
  • Biannual video chat
  • Quarterly inter-department sit-with’s
  • Monthly managers meetings
  • Ongoing reward and recognition ceremonies

Also, just as you would consider how to best position product messaging to resonate with your target market, you must consider how employees will best engage with your messaging. I recommend that all of your internal communications are crafted to meet at least one of the seven internal communications drivers that help answer, “What’s in it for me?”:

  • Reward: How much I earn; financial bonus
  • Recognition: Non-monetary, recognition by peers, leaders, and direct manager
  • Opportunity: My opportunity for advancement; to experience different areas
  • Process: The way in which I work; my level of autonomy, my workload
  • Personal Pride: How I feel about the job I do; how my job makes me feel
  • Product: What I work on; whether I get a choice; my creative license
  • Working Environment: My desk, building, facilities, location of office

Share Results and Reinforce Engagement

Measuring marketing and sales success should include metrics that support the vision of the institution. Start with results at the institution level, and then break it down by marketing campaign results including product penetration and balance growth. Then drill down the results even further by individual branch sales results. This helps reinforce the company vision and tie the vision back to how employees’ jobs impacts the bottom line.

To measure employee engagement, you must survey your employees annually. Share the results of the survey with employees and compare their opinion of service levels to the opinion of your customers. By surveying both your customers and your employees, you gain quantifiable indicators that help identify possible service level gaps.

My brand management manifesto to all marketing leaders is to prioritize your brand management activities with employee engagement first and foremost. There is no denying that by improving your employee engagement, you improve the overall health and financial strength of the organization, as well as improve the satisfaction and loyalty of your customer base; thus, improving your brand equity.