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'Branding 101' for New Employees [Slide Show]

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120216-1 Intro

I recently read an article that discussed how frequently job candidates spell company names incorrectly in their cover letters. I used to dismiss those errors as lazy mistakes, but then I reflected on how many times employees at my company misspell our company name.

Branding 101 (educating employees about your brand) is a critical component of new-hire orientation for every company—even the ones that spend millions to ensure everyone permanently remembers their taglines or jingles. If your company doesn't host new-hire orientations, you can send the information about your brand in a welcome email, post it on your intranet, or distribute a branding checklist.

Here are six items you should include in your Branding 101 package.

120216-2. 1. Company Name

1. Company Name

If your company name includes omitted spaces (e.g., FranklinCovey, LoJack), hyphens (e.g., 7-Eleven, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer), special capitalization (e.g., GEICO, CiCi's Pizza), or special characters (e.g., Häagen-Dazs, Lancôme), chances are your company name is frequently misspelled. Make sure employees know exactly how your company name should appear in letters, emails, and presentations. Provide examples of correct and incorrect usage.

120216-3. 2. Positioning Statements and Taglines

2. Positioning Statements and Taglines

Think about how many times a new acquaintance has asked you what you do for a living. If your company isn't a nationally recognized brand, that question may be followed with, "What does your company do?" Marketers spend endless hours developing brand positioning statements and sales collateral for customers. Make sure employees know your tagline and 30-second elevator speech.

Ask new employees to read your sales collateral, and provide a fun quiz about the details with a participation incentive (e.g., a branded company T-shirt, water bottle, laptop bag). You can also post your tagline and company mission in your break rooms and meeting rooms to help reinforce the message.

120216-4. 3. Basic Brand Guidelines and Templates

3. Basic Brand Guidelines and Templates

Establish a style guide for your employees to help ensure that all material going out from your company appears consistent and professional. Make your company letterhead and presentation templates easily accessible to employees.

If you want employees to use a specific font family in letters, presentations, and sell sheets, install that typeface as the default on each employee's computer (on a PC, go to Settings > Control Panel > Font).

If you would like employees to use your corporate colors when creating materials, provide them the RGB and CMYK color codes, along with a quick tutorial on how to edit colors in the programs they use. (In Microsoft Word, choose "More Colors" from the bottom of the font colors palette, then select the "Custom" tab to enter the RGB color code.)

120216-5. 4. Logos and Company Images

4. Logos and Company Images

Set guidelines for when and how employees can use your company logo, including which colors the logo may appear in, which taglines employees can use, and whether the logo can be combined with other designs. If your logo is trademarked, ensure employees include the registered mark every time they use the logo.

Also, employees must understand whether they can share your company logo with external vendors for an event, product, or website. To protect themselves from potential liability, many companies require logo license agreements to be signed before they send a logo to a third party. Those agreements are often handled by the marketing communications team or the legal team.

120216-6. 5. Email Signature Rules

5. Email Signature Rules

Setting up an email template with a pink background, purple Comic Sans font, and dancing penguin Clip Art might be a fun way for an employee to express her personality, but that's likely not how you want your company represented to customers and vendors. Set some ground rules for email formatting and signatures to help ensure a professional appearance for every interaction.

You might also consider asking employees to include your company's tagline and links to the company's social media profiles (e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube) in their signatures. That can help increase the number of your online social connections.

120216-7. 6. Social Media Guidelines

6. Social Media Guidelines

Whether or not your company participates in social media, you can guarantee that most of your employees do: 75% of Internet-connected homes use social networks. Explain how (or whether) employees are allowed to associate with the company when using social media sites. If you choose to let your employees advocate on your behalf, set guidelines on the type of information they can discuss or share. Also, remember to reinforce a key point: Assume that the customer is right.

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Sarah Baker is a blogger, nonprofit social media consultant, and director of communications/marketing for a national insurance company.

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  • by Deb Thu Feb 16, 2012 via web

    What suggestions do you have when employees ignore branding standards, particularly guidelines/template/e-mail signature rules ?

  • by Sarah Baker Thu Feb 16, 2012 via web

    Deb - We send out quarterly reminders to employees with highlights of the most important brand guidelines. We also post reminders in the company newsletter as needed. In addition, the communications team regularly interfaces with employees in various departments and branch locations, so if we see someone using an incorrect email signature or template, we'll send a friendly reminder. We've generally found that when people aren't following the guidelines, it's simply because they forgot.

  • by M Vogel Thu Feb 16, 2012 via web

    If your employee branding communications are focused on enforcing the graphic brand guidelines, you are missing the entire point about branding. Employees are your most important and critical marketing channel. As we put it, employees must "Live the Brand" in both communications and behavior. There should be no question of how they describe your company to others -- there should be a concise and consistent positioning from all employees. To test this, do a quick survey among employees to determine consistency. Ask three simple questions:
    1. Who are we?
    2. What do we do?
    3. Why do we do it?
    This will determine if employees have internalized your Brand Platform and are strong marketers of your brand.

  • by Ornuma P Thu Feb 16, 2012 via web

    Totally agree with M Vogel. The employees are the ambassadors of your brand and we have to make sure that their behavior is in line with our brand strategy. Of course communication is also important as it is the expression of a brand and they need to be consistent. But when we build a brand, we are building a relationship with the customers. Who can build a better relationship? Employees or logo?

  • by Sarah Baker Thu Feb 16, 2012 via web

    Keep in mind that this article is called "Branding 101 for New Employees" and is not meant to address a full blown internal brand ambassador campaign. This is more of an introductory checklist to ensure your employees are correctly following your basic branding guidelines. Thank you for your comments! Perhaps a "Live the Brand" article would be a good follow up.

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