At Team Accelerate we strongly believe in the 3 P’s – Product, Process and People. Hopefully you have the right product, you have the appropriate systems and processes in place and finally, you need to ensure you have the right people in the right places within your business. As an employer you need to be supporting them with their day-to-day work and challenges whilst ensuring they are being effective and efficient in all that they do. If this isn’t the case, your business may not grow as quickly or easily as you hoped it would.
The Heart of Branding
Amanda Lowry from MFL Group Australia leads a team of creatives who help businesses to build successful and sustainable brands. This is done through the development of brand strategies in the form of a solid brand foundation, which is needed for any business to propel your business and brand forward. Ensuring your team of people are involved in the journey of building the brand will allow them to buy into the brand more and ultimately have more of an invested interest in your business. In short, building a successful team geared towards brand success follows 3 simple steps:
- Ensure you have a solid Brand Foundation
- Ensure your People are on board
- Ensure your People understand the beliefs, values, and mission of why your brand exists
This is when brand identity comes into play. Brand identity can include logos, colour palettes and all the other elements that help ensure your brand is consistent to your consumers. Amanda helps with this exact thing, she helps to manage your business brand and ensures you keep your brand cohesively moving forward, with your team consistently on board with the ideas.
What is Business Branding?
Branding is how people perceive your business. It is the use of colours, logos, uniqueness and differentiation to give meaning to your business, product and / or service by creating and shaping a brand in the consumer’s mind. The goal is to attract new consumers and retain loyal customers through delivering a product that is in line with what your brand stands for and promises. It is ultimately how a consumer feels when they interact with your business. Amanda tells us that, “branding is often very understated due to the fact that people cannot articulate what is making them feel that way.” That ‘gut decision’ is often a brand decision, for example, when you buy a car, you often buy a car because of how that brand makes you feel.
Branding aims to connect with its consumers and gain their trust, this will allow them to come back for future purchases. Consistency is key when it comes to branding – be consistent with your quality, your marketing, your social media, your website. Always ensure that your external matches your internal. It is no good to have superb marketing but a product that doesn’t live up to this expectation. This inconsistency will lead to poor trust and low-quality branding. Another good example is a cafe, it may be aesthetically pleasing and have good food, but if the staff are unhappy and consistently grumbling, the likelihood of you recommending the place is very slim. This is where we see how big of a component people are to the branding of your business. People, i.e. your staff are one of the biggest promoters of your business’ branding.
How does Branding Impact your Staff Internally?
People just want to belong, it’s as simple as that! When you have employees who spend hours a week, months a year, for years on end working as part of a team, their natural instinct is to want to belong and be accepted. They will want to be a part of the culture and branding that the company has developed in order to fit in. Everyone should be working towards one goal, one larger task, and if your staff believe in this and share the same values, they’re going to feel fulfilled. If your staff understand the strategic goal and the larger task at hand, then they’ll put more effort into that one blog they write or that one data audit they have to perform.
The type of environment that you set up for your team also plays a role in the effectiveness of their work. If you have a dynamic, fun culture and brand, they are more likely to enjoy work and be productive. However, if you provide them with a stifling work environment, your staff won’t buy into the brand nor will they produce top-quality work.
Ultimately you need to recruit staff that will align with your brand values and belief system, and staff who just fit with your branding. Staff who don’t align with your branding will stunt your brand progression as you move forward. These individuals have the ability to derail and demotivate their fellow staff members at work, which can bring down the energy of the entire workforce, and ultimately your business’ brand which you have worked so hard to develop and grow. We, therefore, strongly advise you to spend sufficient time on your hiring process. Some companies have even decided to recruit purely on referrals only, this allows for only trusted staff to enter into the business. This is also key for staff retention, which is a must for the financial viability of the staff member as well as the creation of this long lasting brand image we are talking about. Someone who has been aligned with a strong brand image for a longer amount of time, is more likely to be loyal to helping grow the branding of the business. Companies that have strongly bonded teams find that they stick together for a long time and develop new ideas that stimulate the business’ success.
What can Senior Management do to support your staff?
Branding helps to close the gap between staff and top level management where they can’t always be on the ground due to their level of tasks which don’t always allow for this. It is however good for senior managers to check in on their staff members and support them. Every now and then that top level and low level engagement is needed to bridge the gap and for staff to feel included in the company’s strategies and branding. Staff want to feel that they too are “good enough”.
In times of struggle, such as during COVID, extra top level management engagement may be necessary to help support the staff and guide them to ensure they are motivated and reaching their targets.
From a branding perspective, communication is key! We have seen this particularly in the rebranding process, where Amanda tells us to include staff in discussions and conversations. The final decision making should be from a strategic point of view, i.e. management, but it is important to listen to your staff’s opinions and viewpoints. Listen to their expectations and what they feel the brand culture should be. This is critical as
- You ingrain the staff into your branding
- You can ensure they are still aligned with your branding
- You gain new ideas high level staff may not have thought of
- Staff become value adders rather than resources
Another great way to support your staff with aligning with your brand, can be through the use of a policy or an employee manual. Have your branding strategy available within this and easily understandable. When staff are first hired, go through this manual with them in detail and do a workshop to inform them on the branding and values which you hope they will live up to whilst working in the business. Have conversations with your team about all these values and explain why these values are important, communicate, communicate, communicate. Give your staff the insight from the very beginning and then as they implement these brand ethics into their day-to-day work environment, it should start to make more sense to them.
Include your people. Your staff are the ones that can either make or break your branding. They are the ones that need to believe in your branding the most. If they believe in the businesses branding, they will reflect this and create a culture which allows your consumers to buy into the brand. So if your business ever thinks of rebranding, INCLUDE your staff in the brainstorming process and hear them out. Get their feedback and hear from their past experiences. Keep the lines of communication open. This will result in a ripple effect as they feel supported and a part of a well connected community, where they want to contribute.
It is important to remember that every business is different. But the core of branding for each is the same. Communication should be at the heart of everything. After this, ensure you have a solid brand foundation, get your people on board and make sure they understand the beliefs, values, and the mission of why your brand exists. From there, your staff should align with it and add to your branding. An easy way to do this is to provide your staff with employee manuals where you cover branding and the culture of your business. Here at Team Accelerate, we help you build your employee manual where all of this is included. So if you’re looking to implement this into your business, give us a shout!
Amanda will also be putting out new videos or Ebooks so if you are interested in those, jump onto her website: MFLGroup.com.au.