Your employees can and should be your biggest brand advocates. But they can also be your most challenging detractors. When these same employees are client or customer facing, that means they’re either keeping your brand’s promise to your audience — or they’re breaking it.
You should strive for every team across your organization to embody everything your brand stands for. When they do, your audience encounters a cohesive and consistent experience that underscores your brand’s value. But when team members don’t understand your brand — or they disregard or misrepresent it — they can cause significant damage to your organization’s credibility and reputation.
You know you need to train employees on the ins and outs of your brand guidelines to ensure brand consistency, such as how to use design elements such as logos and taglines correctly. But this type of training doesn’t go far enough to deliver on your brand promise. To really help team members reflect and represent your brand, it’s crucial to give them the why of your rebrand – how your rebrand strategy fits into your overall brand and business strategy. They need to understand exactly how your new brand will drive specific business objectives and deliver increased value to the bottom line.
Incorporate these three strategies into your comprehensive rebrand implementation plan to equip employees to become the effective brand ambassadors you need them to be.
1. Communicate the value of the rebrand from the C-suite
Successful rebrand implementation begins with clear communication from the C-suite. Too often, leaders undermine the importance of a rebrand unconsciously or in subtle ways. They might make dismissive comments about the new brand or the rebranding process or continue to wear their favorite shirt or hat sporting the legacy brand. When they do this, other employees often take their lead and downplay the importance of the new brand, too. That’s why the first step in equipping your employees to be brand ambassadors is to ensure your executive team is fully on board.
Furthermore, a senior leader should herald the rationale and benefits of your brand change and emphasize its value in official communications. For example, your CEO could share insights from the market research that led you to make a brand change in the first place. Then, leaders at all levels can cascade this consistent message to their teams. Executive leaders should also lay out clear expectations for employees about adopting and integrating the new brand into their daily work life, and ultimately how the change is going to drive the business.
2. Implement robust, long-term brand engagement and training — and measure its impact
Whether you’re planning a big bang launch or rolling out your new brand over time, it’s essential to educate employees about what it will mean to embody your new brand. This involves more than handing out swag bags at launch and orienting team members around changes to your name, logo, brand colors, and visual identity. You must develop a robust, long-term training and engagement program and customize it based on employees’ roles and needs.
To equip your employees to become true ambassadors, they need to understand your brand strategy, promise, and value.
To equip your employees to become true ambassadors, they need to understand your brand strategy, promise, and value. They also need to realize that marketing doesn’t “own” the brand — everyone does. Consider holding focus groups and team-specific training workshops that delve into what the brand stands for, who your organization is trying to be, and what you want consumers to feel.
It’s important that you don’t just hold training sessions and then move on. Quantify their effect and incorporate the results into your rebranding metrics. Use these to assess and evaluate the internal reception of your rebrand over time. For example, you might conduct an engagement survey to measure how well your employees understand and interpret your brand promise before you begin these training exercises. Then, follow up every six or twelve months to measure your employees’ ongoing engagement with your brand.
3. Break down organizational silos — especially between marketing and HR
You want everyone throughout your organization to understand, embrace, and champion your brand. But it’s especially crucial for your HR colleagues to do so. Because they hire and onboard every new team member across business units — and handle ongoing employee communication — your HR colleagues have the potential to shape your employees’ understanding of your brand (or lack thereof) every day.
The problem is that the marketing team and the HR team communicate two seemingly distinct concepts to employees. The marketing team talks about the brand and uses business terms to explain how it supports the company in the marketplace, leading employees to think of the brand as an external concept. On the other hand, HR talks a lot about culture. They use this word to describe what it’s like to work at your organization. And that causes employees to perceive culture as the internal expression of your company’s values.
In reality, these two concepts should be one and the same. Your brand should authentically reflect your culture and your culture should embody your brand.
If brand and culture are not currently integrated within your organization, use your rebrand as an opportunity to bring your HR colleagues and marketing teams together. Foster alignment around goals that matter to them and to you. For example, you might ask your HR colleagues to talk through how living out the brand could help employees demonstrate passion and purpose at work. Or, you might explore whether using your brand more intentionally in hiring campaigns could lead to better recruitment results.
When the HR team realizes the value of the brand and how it supports their objectives, they can better support the purpose, value, and strategic impact of your new identity and reinforce brand consistency with all employees.
With the right strategies, you can inspire your employees to embrace and champion your new brand
It’s easy to get swept up in the many details of implementing a rebrand and overlook your organization’s most valuable resource — your employees. But you only get one chance to introduce your new brand to team members in a way that inspires, excites, and motivates them. Don’t waste it.
By communicating the value of your rebranding initiative from the C-suite, implementing a robust training and brand engagement program, and thoughtfully breaking down the silos between marketing and other departments, your employees will become competent, impactful ambassadors who fulfill your brand promise each and every day.