In the excitement of developing a new brand, one thing is often forgotten – taking your team on the brand journey. This shouldn’t be an afterthought, in fact, it should be one of the key considerations from the beginning of the process. Your best brand ambassadors are your employees.
It’s not enough to define a higher purpose for your organisation and rebrand with a new promise. You must deliver on it. Your new brand must extend into business processes, your culture and every action. Your employees are the very people who can make the brand come alive for your customers, or not. It’s up to you to help them make a powerful emotional connection to the new brand and the work they do every day.
When your team care about and believe in the brand, their motivation and loyalty to the company increases – they are unified and inspired by a common sense of purpose and identity.
Here are a few ways you can take your team on the brand journey:
Make a plan upfront
Whether you’re developing your new brand internally or externally with an agency, plan for your team’s involvement upfront. Getting your team involved from the start means they are much more likely to be emotionally and personally invested in your new brand, which means they will advocate for it once it’s launched.
Every team and every business is different – your context needs to be considered in order to build an effective plan for team contribution and engagement throughout the brand process.
At what points in the process will you involve the team? What tools and resources might you need to develop in order to help them understand the brand? What experiences might you need to create for them to form an emotional connection? How are you going to ensure transparency and clear communication along the way? What questions might they have and how can you be prepared to answer them effectively? How can you get them excited about the future of the organisation?
Value their insight
We all like to feel as though our opinions are valued. When it comes to rebranding, many organisations overlook the extraordinarily valuable insight within their own four walls. Often employees have significant insights and ideas, they may just have not been provided the space and circumstance to communicate their thoughts. After all, they are the ones speaking directly with your customers, delivering or selling your products and services, and experiencing your brand day-to-day.
Seeking employee insight during the branding process also ensures the company creates a message that resonates with its team, rather than one that could potentially build resentment.
One idea is to send a simple survey to all employees inviting their contribution right at the start. Ask them about your brands strengths and weaknesses, what they might change and how they feel it needs to be portrayed in the future. Maybe invite a group of employees to give feedback at certain points of the brand development or involve them in seeking feedback from customers – this way they are forming connections and learning more about your organisation at the same time.
How you invite feedback and empower contribution will depend on the size of your team and the context of their work. The goal is to engage them with the process so they have a meaningful connection and sense of ownership in the outcome.
Launch internally first
Always launch a new brand internally first. Your team are the ones who will be communicating the brand message and creating the brand experience for your customers. They need extreme clarity on the new brand direction and the future you’re building towards. Most of all they need to believe in it.
The internal launch can be gradual, it doesn’t need to be a big, glossy affair with animations and fireworks – but it does need to be meaningful. Focus on authenticity, build a narrative around your brand by sharing real stories that reinforce the brand direction. Invite customers, employees, partners or alumni to share their experience of the company purpose and values in action. The aim is to connect the new brand aspirations with meaningful truth – this creates belief in the new brand, builds a sense of belonging and inspires advocacy.
Develop the right tools
There’s no doubt that a rebrand can take up a lot of time and resources. Without the right tools to enable employees to effectively maintain and build the brand, things can quickly get off track and plenty of time can be wasted in uncertainty.
Invest in the tools that will make your rebrand process smoother. To start with, a digital portal that provides a brand style guide along with all of your assets in one place is essential. There’s nothing worse than having outdated copies of templates and assets floating around – get it all online as one source of truth for accessibility and keep it all up to date.
A brand style guide is great, but it’s far from enough. Getting visually consistent is important, but what’s even more important is aligning around a brand culture. A Brand Culture Guide that outlines what it means to be a part of your company, expected values-driven behaviours, the beliefs and principles you share as a team, the benefits and impacts of living your purpose and how employees contribute to that purpose is a key tool in the success of your rebrand.
Other tools that are useful are purpose delivery models, (how do you deliver on purpose?) values frameworks (to define and measure values-driven behaviour), archetype and brand persona guides, messaging frameworks and impact statements.
For a rebrand to be a success long-term, it needs to start from the inside-out. Bring your team on the journey, make it meaningful and they will help you bring it to life.