Every year, brands spend millions on communicating their brand message and values to customers. The value of selling this brand promise to consumers has long been understood. But the idea of ‘internal marketing’ – communicating brand values to employees - is something that is a much more recent phenomenon.
Did you know that organisational behaviour drives your brand and your strategy, and that both can be addressed at three levels? These levels are:
- The Collective Level including processes and reward systems.
- The Group Level including leadership circles, group dynamics, power systems, corporate politics, spheres of influence.
- And, the Individual Level including people’s attitudes, perceptions, stress, emotions, motivations, judgements and commitment.
All too often, disconnect exists between the strategic thinking of business leaders and the day-to-day behaviours of employees. Brand ideas and business strategies are manifested in employee behaviours only if employees understand how these relate to them at an individual level. Employees need to see these as part of their own, personal mission statements.
The role of brand and strategy project teams, stakeholders and leadership is to create an environment where individuals can make good choices, where they can find the self-motivation to get involved and become an ambassador for the brand and/or strategy.
Related: How to build a brand that people care about
This involves four primary steps, the first of which will be discussed in this article. These provide the framework for translating brand and strategy into behaviours:
- Identify the behaviours that are expected from people.
- Monitor these behaviours continuously.
- Provide positive and constructive feedback in a timely manner.
- Reward people for their efforts.
Identify key business behaviours
‘Brand’ and ‘strategy’ are vague terms that are understood differently by different people.
For example, ‘innovation’ as strategy arguably means the following to an IT professional: automation, efficiency, cost-saving. Innovation to a teacher means finding ways to creatively teach a subject to children who have different learning styles.
‘Brand’ is usually perceived to be the responsibility of others to manage with most people neglecting to appreciate the power they have (with the help of social media) to communicate influential messages about an organisation. Breaking brand and strategy into bite-sized behavioural pieces that people can focus on is an important step in solving the enigma of how to bring these to life.
But, what behaviours would be required for people to be innovative? People would need to show:
- Flexible thinking that could spark new ideas.
- Confident presentation of those new ideas.
- Practical ways of testing or implementing new ideas.
Individuals can ‘connect’ with these behaviours much more than high-level strategy statements that are far removed from their daily lives. A keen focus on the individual behaviours that will enable the attainment of brand or strategy is the secret to success.
Give value to what people do
About 15 years ago, I was working in a small team within the Wellness Team in a Human Resources department.
The department was part of the Operations Division, which was a support function to the broader business. The broader business was global financial services provider, including currency and commodities trading, mergers and acquisitions, and high-end wealth management. The four-man Wellness team seemed a far cry from anything related to the strategy or brand of Goldman Sachs at the time.
Related: Create brand experiences to build lasting customer connections
Our manager recognised the disconnect, and we workshopped the global leadership needed from the regions to achieve their goals. Then, we looked at how the divisions within the regions enabled the region’s goals. We looked at the deliverables of the Operations Division and at how Human Resources helped.
Finally, we unpacked what each of us did to help the Human Resources department meet its obligations. Our manager mapped out connections that took us right to the global EXCO and we could see that what we did was part of a wider chain and that what we did mattered.
Translating brand and strategy into behaviours and maintaining an enabling company culture takes insight and constant attention. These objectives will be met over time and through the cumulative effect of many, many, many things.