Your Employees Affect Your Brand
Logos. Websites. Marketing Material. Are these the only marketing and advertising channels you think of that represent your company, its products and brand? Do you think once the branding team establishes these visual identities you are finished? So much more goes into your brand besides just these three deliverables. Messaging, trade shows, public relations, direct mail, print advertising and even the customer experience are just a few examples of touch points that contribute to a positive or negative corporate identity and brand.
I have spoken before about branding: what it entails, how important it is, etc. Since I still believe the majority of companies do not see their brand as an asset, I wanted to address just one more corporate asset that tends to be overlooked which seriously affects a brand: your employees.
Your employees are an enormously important part of your brand and visual corporate identity system. In fact, they are the most visual part of that identity system especially if they are in front of your customers. Now most everyone makes sure their employees are well dressed, have showered and comb their hair. What I don’t think they address is the actions and personality of their employees. People’s massive interaction with the web, online forums and social media can easily reach thousands of people in the blink of an eye. Any improprieties can be tweeted, shared and forwarded to their network and beyond.
Individuals’ professional persona is easy (easier, anyway) to observe, evaluate and shape, but what about someone’s off the clock activities? I have found many individuals that write personal blogs, Facebook posts and tweets about controversial or offensive topics. Their personal networks obviously know their career and profession, so their own feelings and opinions can affect customers’ perception of their business. Being a public setting, these opinions can be easily found and attributed to your company or brand.
Now I am no HR expert, but I do know there are certain things you can and can’t consider when hiring an individual. So I am in no way condoning any illegal activity but isn’t your brand such an invaluable asset that you can’t help but consider this topic?
The big question would be: how do you protect your brand from such potential devastating damage? Obviously the proper hiring practices already in place are a start. Interviews, references and work samples are the foundation in searching for new talent. One of the newest strategies would be to implement in-depth web research to uncover public articles or forums that have been posted online. I have heard some firms go so far as asking for an individual’s social media passwords to review their online activities. Again, I don’t know if this is legal, but it is good to see that some firms truly see the value of their brand and are taking steps to protect it.
–Adam O’Leary, President