A brand experience is the sum total experience one has with an entity and the perception one has of that entity. One of the key areas where this experience is strengthened or destroyed is the way the brand’s eco-system– its consumers, partners, vendors– perceive the brand through their interaction with the employees of the brand. This interaction has the maximum impact on a brands’ reputation than all the brands’ combined advertising.
So how do we ensure that key employees deliver the desired brand experience?
Current corporate cultures are, still largely, governed by ‘command-and-control’ practices. Such practices tend to alienate the employees instead of engaging them and making them the focal point for a brand in developing relationships.
By putting employees at the center of the brand experience, a few important processes are impacted upon:
- Change in organisational culture— employee engagement & participation in developing the brand vision become a team process that leads to employee recognition & reward based on the positive customer experiences delivered.
- Employee Performance– Being engaged enables the employee to align personal career growth through the desired performance to that of the organisational goal.
- Delivering the Brand Vision– By having employee at the center of the brand, the core values and key brand messages, get aligned with key organisational deliverables.
Yet, in-spite of the oft spoken line of ‘people are our main asset’, the road to employee-service-profit chain, success is mired in obstacles.
If employees are distrusting and alienated from their organisations, what are the chances that they will provide customers and colleagues alike with a positive brand experience? And a positive experience is a must in order to have a repeatsale/usage of the brand and, more importantly, to get referrals.
So how do we get employees to build trust with the brand and be engaged and involved with the organisation?
Engagement programs are just that—i.e.: they provide a one-way street of communication. Commanding what should be the perceived brand image communication. Providing content to gain a buy-in.
But not really providing any means of engagement or involvement from the employee.
Involvement, is the critical element.
Intuitively we all understand what involvement is and how powerful (a force) it can be. When we are told to do something, we do it and then tend to forget about it. But when we are involved in something, we tend to be possessive and own it on an emotive level. And when emotion comes into play, passion comes out. Where there is passion there is a strong and enabling experience that takes place, leading to formation of trust. When trust grows, relationships are strengthened leading to repeat usage and referrals.
When looking to enhance the brand experience managing the cultural change becomes a top priority and a must in order to ensure that the end result of a positive brand experience is achieved.
In order to be successful in this, it’s critical to get the employees’ involved. This involvement requires that a strong group process is in place. A process where the meetings and interactions take on a deeper meaning than just to meet in order to agree to the content of the meeting. A deeper meaning where one focuses more on honest conversation, high involvement and participation leading to strong and trusting relationships.
All simple, effective and yet in a corporate set up, at times, hard to do elements.
The key here is to get a strong group process is in place. A strong group process impacts on creating strong relationships based on individual involvement. Then implementing the rest of the brand experience plan, in terms of content and communication channels and programs, is not hard.
By virtue of the ownership that each engaged employee will bring into their function role, the brand vision will be communicated with warmth and honesty. All of which lead to having a positive brand experience output.