A great brand makes people feel something. In utilizing the brand, people fill emotional needs they were seeking. Consider how powerful that really is.
However, when developing your brand story, you’ll need to first think critically about the internal emotional needs of your customer. This is crucial if you want it to make an impact. When you excel at crafting your brand’s messaging, you identify your audience members’ emotions — whether they feel stressed, anxious, connected, or otherwise.
Ensuring customers can see themselves in your brand story — and making them the main characters of it — represents the first step toward truly engaging them. From there, you can show that you understand them. You’ll be able to paint your company as one that can expertly help meet those internal emotional needs.
Let’s look to Nike for an example. When you think of Nike, you probably think of more than just high-performance fabric and the latest pair of athletic shoes. The company’s story is all about becoming a better person by taking steps toward reaching goals. It’s about breaking a sweat, facing adversity, and working your tail off to prove yourself.
Nike has worked meticulously to connect with how you feel and meet your emotional needs through every commercial, Instagram post, and piece of brand communication. This was no accident.
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Why Employees Are Your Brand Story’s First Defense
How can you tell your brand story with the same impact, then? Before any type of brand can move customers in this way, it should take one very important step: Engage employees in its story. If you can’t get employees to align with the brand story you’re telling, customers will be more hesitant to buy-in. In turn, business will suffer: Diluted and unaligned brand messaging alone costs businesses $10 million or more annually.
According to Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” report, more than two-thirds of U.S. workers are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work. Unfortunately, having these workers leads to lower customer satisfaction and disengaged clients. Relationships suffer as a result. This is to be expected when the same unengaged employees are responsible for interacting with customers, providing service, and driving innovation.
When you seamlessly integrate your brand story within your company first, though, it can improve employee retention and engagement. Be sure you’re putting your best foot forward here. Apply your brand story to every part of your organization, and use it to inspire your people and help them inform each business decision.
Employees should do these things because they want to, not just because they’re paid to. They feel emotional alignment with the brand story. However, success with this requires careful planning and time. Here are three ways business leaders can help employees buy into their brand stories and remain engaged:
1. Don’t stop at your company’s “why.” To write a brand story that feels authentic and brings your mission to the forefront, ask yourself a few questions. At Pariveda, we’re constantly talking about creating value for our clients by solving problems and growing individuals — our clients and our people — toward their highest potential. This truly represents our “why.” It makes people fill an unmet need for growth and improvement with each passing day.
Nike sells shoes, for example, but it also aims to sell confidence. It wants the threads on its shelves to inspire people to become the best versions of themselves. Once you’ve grasped your “why” beyond making a profit and how you’d like to build from there, you’ve defined your brand in the simplest form.
After this, you can consider your “how.” This isn’t just limited to the services you offer. You should also consider your culture, which enables your employees (and your company as a whole) to provide those services. Figure out what’s true to your mission, services, and people. Building a brand story can only be successful and resonate if it’s genuine.
2. Share the story with each employee. Don’t just gather the necessary employees in a conference room and have them repeat your brand message. Simply feeding them a story and mission won’t ensure success. You must help them understand your brand message now and with every future opportunity.
It’s helpful to explore your brand story using a one-on-one approach. Make this a dynamic, interactive conversation by playing out different scenarios. Once you’ve done this, continue to reinforce your brand story in every company message, meeting, and event.
This is something we’ve integrated into our onboarding process. We talk to every leader who arrives at our firm and discuss our brand aspirations.
Again, this goes far beyond making money: We constantly reinforce the learning, coaching, and giving embedded in our firm, and this involves more than exploring our brand story in one meeting and calling it a job well done. It’s crucial to provide constant reminders to your employees so they can apply your brand’s principles in everyday actions.
3. Demonstrate how to best live out your brand’s story. When encouraging employees to embrace your brand’s story, you’ll face people who don’t understand how it relates directly to their work. However, they still play a part no matter their roles or departments.
Let’s consider someone working in information technology at a B2B company. If the company’s clients want to become industry innovators, getting them there might mean solving a difficult business problem or creating a new application development project. These initiatives might not represent the company’s story at first glance, but they do work toward it. Every service and person has a role in building a brand’s story and bringing it to life, and this is made possible through each and every client interaction.
If you have employees who wonder how their work connects to your overarching story, have a conversation about why and how their particular roles work as part of it.
The big secret is that the brand stories are personal. After all, successful brands maintain relationships with people. Although your customer should always be at the center of your brand story, employee alignment plays an instrumental role in helping your company live it.