How do companies large and small use their brand not only to create demand but also to engage employees (and, ultimately, retain clients)?
A company's name can command a tremendous amount of respect and equity with customers. Likewise, employees who possess a great amount of pride in working for a world-class organization can be a greater asset than sometimes realized.
If companies can take these ingredients and begin to change the culture to one that "lives" the brand, the market will take notice. Of course, what we must always be cognizant of in the process is that pride is not mistaken as hubris by customers.
A great long-term brand strategy, if executed properly, will trigger pride among customers—pride in owning, pride in working with, pride in doing business with and/or talking about the brand—without coaxing or coaching. Many world-class brands/companies share in this luxury—such as Coca Cola, Starbucks, the Mayo Clinic, BMW, Nike, and Harley Davidson. GE's Jack Welch had the brand placed on the balance sheet in order to demonstrate its importance to his employees.
Essentially, it all starts in the hiring process and is embedded within the employees' minds, actions and decision-making. For those companies that are looking to reinvent themselves, this is a luxury that is not afforded—rather, it is a long-term work-in-progress that can take months (or even years).
Step one is to define the brand internally. For example, are you customer-focused or product-focused? What do you stand for? What do you aspire to be next year? In five years? In ten? How do customers and consumers perceive you? How do you want to be perceived? How do you reduce the gap (if one exists) between perceived and desired?
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Jeff Mucci has over 10 years' experience as a marketing professional, including with Fortune 500 companies such as Alcoa, Inc.