For most companies, the marketing department is recognized as the “keeper” of the brand or where brand management “lives.” But while marketing has a prominent role in managing a company brand, every employee from the CEO on down is responsible for the brand – making or breaking it.
But how do you make your brand come alive for all employees? One strategy is to develop a strong message platform for each audience. Segment your stakeholders and develop message platforms that support your brand’s positioning for each of them.
Once developed, you must communicate who, what, when, where and why consistent messaging is so important to the brand. Every employee must know their role in representing the brand and have the tools to demonstrate the brand promise.
When you segment your stakeholders, the impact of human resources, volunteers and philanthropy on your brand becomes evident. Consider the number of people who are touched by these three areas of your organization.
- Current employees – Do your communications around benefits, organizational changes and compensation support your brand?
- Applicants – How do you represent your organization to those interested in working for your organization?
- Donors and potential donors – What are the opportunities for investment by donors? How will their donations help achieve the organization’s goals?
- Volunteers – How will their investment of time help the organization achieve its goals? How does the organization express its appreciation to volunteers?
- Retirees – Does your organization express their appreciation for their years of service?
How can you engage all of these audiences to become brand ambassadors? The answer is a brand message platform that is consistently and a regularly used in all interactions. But for many, the challenge is how to make this happen on a day-to-day basis.
When I was a VP of Marketing and Communications (MarCom) at a large health system, we took an innovative approach to ensure the brand promise was supported across our system. We embedded the MarCom staff into the Human Resources and Philanthropy/Foundation departments of the organization. These staff members were full time employees in the MarCom budget, but they were located within these departments. The staff developed annual goals and objectives that were jointly approved by me and the leads in the departments. Performance reviews were done jointly.
Using this staffing model, we were able to:
- Stay on the brand message platform for important stakeholders
- Ensure brand integrity – no one-offs of logos or theme lines
- Comply with our approved communications standards
- Be consistent no matter where we touched a stakeholder
By having the staff live in both departments, they became content experts with a MarCom eye to the brand and messaging. In addition to making brand management a lot easier, this model also resulted in a higher level of quality for the products we produced.
Lastly, your organization’s mission and vision should drive all that you do. Always build upon the strengths you have and remember, your most important assets are your people. The model we used would not have been possible if we didn’t have very flexible staff that understood that our goal was building our brand — and our staffing model was a way to achieve that.