Bet on Employees

How strong is your employment brand?
Illustration by Tony Healey
Julia Carcamo is president and chief brand strategist at J Carcamo & Associates, specializing in brand and marketing strategy. She is also the co-founder of espNOLA, a Hispanic marketing and engagement agency.

 

I’ve been traveling a great deal lately and at some point, all of these airports start to feel like the same place. Nothing has ever really stood out, except once when I noticed a Southwest Airlines marketing campaign. The headline read, “Without a heart, it’s just a machine.” Southwest’s recent brand refresh was the first for the airline in 14 years. The goal was to remind customers and employees alike that people are at the heart of everything the airline does. It spoke to the Southwest brand and how significant a role their employees play in delivering the experience they’ve promised. 

There has been much writing about the partnership between marketing and IT, but what about the collaboration with operations? After all, operations is truly where the brand “rubber” meets the road. More importantly, it is the employees themselves that breathe life into what we, as marketers, create.

As marketers, we must consider marketing to internal customers as well as the obvious ones. Care for the quality of the work and message should be just as high, if not higher.

 

How do you ensure consistent brand experiences?
First and most importantly, your employment brand must match what you say to customers. Then you have to hire the right people for the brand. Take the time to make sure recruiters and human resources are in agreement and understanding as to precisely what the brand stands for. More than a tagline, it’s a promise made with each interaction.

Next is a comprehensive on-boarding process. Be open and honest with the state of the business and what it will take to get to success. Explain your brand as a culture rather than a series of ads and brochures.

Locally, you may have noticed MGM Resort’s “The Show” message on billboards and television. The campaign was an effort to reposition the company to reflect the DNA of the brand as more than a casino company, but an entertainment company. However, before the message reached you and me, it started internally as a transformation of the way the company did business — beginning with the company’s top leaders and cascading throughout the organization until all 77,000 employees were wholly engaged.

 

Understand what it takes to engage every employee.
I recently visited a client, and when I asked what was challenging them the most they said it was getting employees to know what was happening. You have to wonder if that question should be asked differently. How could they get the message out in a way that employees are willing and able to consume and retain it?

In advertising, you look to understand where people are getting information, but for internal communications we often rely on leftover posters and memos near the time clock. How would that resonate with you? Plus, if you think about how you (personally) are consuming information, you’ll probably realize it’s always shifting. What makes us believe our fellow employees aren’t changing their choice of channels as well? When you provide employees with an opportunity to consume information on their terms, they will. Think beyond the poster!

 

Finally, everyone wants to play a part in the success of your business.
Bring your teams together and encourage empowerment, engagement and improved performance. Share your goals and regularly communicate where you are and where you’re going.

The difference between good brands and great brands can often be easily seen in the margins. Great brands tend to have above-average profit margins within their respective categories. In many ways, the employee brand engagement can carry you from good to great. There are many brands as examples: Zappos, Ikea, Patagonia and Starbucks, to name a few.

Think about the most remarkable brand experience you’ve been a part of recently. What made it exceptional? What stood out to you and why? I bet employees had something to do with it.

 

 Learn more at jcarcamoassociates.com and espnola.com.

 


 

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