By Brandon Moxam, Director of Brand Development at U.S. Lawns
All successful companies know that rebranding involves more than creating a new logo, messaging, or an ad campaign. It requires a compelling story that can be understood by all. But while most companies focus their time and money on marketing and public relations initiatives, they often forget about another factor that can help them accomplish their goals — their employees.
Creating brand ambassadors from within your company will not only boost employee morale and get them excited about a re-brand, but it also works to engage clients and inform potential clients about the company’s new direction. In order to grow employee brand ambassadors, companies must take the necessary steps to prepare their employees, empower them, and plan future initiatives to keep the momentum going.
Preparing Employees For A Re-brand.
Practicing transparency from the top down is the first step to creating strong brand ambassadors. Because your employees’ happiness and performance is tied with how they feel individually about the company’s brand—and directly impacts your clients perception of the brand—it’s critical to share the company’s new initiatives with your employees from the beginning. The announcement of a company re-brand can be unsettling, as change can be difficult to accept, but with the right message and execution, employees will feel supported. Keeping your employees informed will also increase employee retention, which is key when you’re ready to actually roll out a new product or service.
This isn’t to say companies should communicate every part of their plan with employees before the product or service is ready to be launched—as it can negatively affect the impact of the launch—but companies should share the information as soon as it’s appropriate, so the employees can be informed and get excited early on.
For example, giving employees the opportunity to be involved in smaller-scale projects is one strategy that companies can start implementing from the get-go, to encourage positive interactions with the new brand. Whether it’s designating a group of staff members to help order new business cards/other company marketing collateral, or asking them to coordinate the logistics for new meeting events, making employees feel like they’re a part of something will help to lay the groundwork and will prepare them for what’s to come.
Apple is a great example of a company that has mastered the art of generating employee brand ambassadors. Because of their employees’ passion toward the brand, when the company shares that something bigger and better is coming out soon, whether it’s the release of a new iPhone, or MacBook, their employees are immediately intrigued and help spread the excitement. Apple is an expert in creating buzz among customers as well. Its process is simple. When it’s closer to launching the new product, Apple hosts a series of untitled events where they invite the press to attend. This method creates a nationwide phenomenon among both employees and customers, leaving both groups eagerly anticipating what’s to come.
Once a company has shared the initial news with its employees, it’s time to unveil the company’s new initiatives. During this part of the process, it’s critical that employees feel connected to the company’s mission, vision, and values. Employees need to know that the shift in direction is genuine, and not based on a whim. When done correctly, this is the biggest opportunity to cultivate brand ambassadors.
In addition to motivating the employees to embrace a re-brand, the company should also help them understand the strategy behind the rebrand, and the positive impact it will have on the company and their individual careers. Specifically, during the announcement, companies should include how the re-brand will attract new customers, increase sales, and the type of role they will play in promoting and protecting the company’s new shift. Again, open communication is the key to preventing negative speculation. Companies should equip their staff with the information behind the new initiative, as well as any resources they may need to help make the launch more successful.
The type of industry you’re in will dictate what resources will benefit your staff most. A landscaping company — for example — might offer new uniforms and equipment, while a professional services firm might lead training sessions or host a series of conferences. Regardless of the industry, all employees want to be proud of what they do, and the company they work for.
In addition to empowering employees from a psychological point of view, companies should also focus on the type of content they’re producing to further support the re-branding efforts and include the employees. Focusing on refreshing your website, blogs, e-newsletters, social media, and other forms of communication plays an instrumental role in getting your message out there. It’s a great way to get your employees to share the message. It’s also beneficial for companies to feature employee spotlights to show a more personal side of the company and to highlight any departmental or sales achievements.
Keeping The Momentum Going.
To keep the company’s momentum going, they should reinforce the messaging around the brand, mission and vision. Hosting events like group meetings and annual conferences in particular aids in fostering a cohesive environment. Creating annual awards and highlighting employee achievements can also strengthen the company’s morale and image.
Establishing routine “brand maintenance” is equally important to creating new brand ambassadors. Companies need to be consistently sharing information and boosting employee engagement (i.e. posting on their blog, creating company newsletters, and carrying out monthly office events). To protect the company’s brand during the onboarding process, new employees should have a full understanding of the brand and what the company stands for.
If the company can keep the momentum going, it will no longer have to keep re-enforcing the re-branding initiatives, and it will be ingrained into the company’s culture. Once employees reach this threshold, they evolve into brand ambassadors — signifying the true success of the re-brand.
Brandon Moxam joined U.S. Lawns as Director of Franchise Recruiting in 2007 and is now Director of Brand Development. He has been instrumental in the U.S. Lawns branding development since 2012. He manages the franchise recruiting department at U.S. Lawns and works closely with potential new franchisees to fully educate them on our U.S. Lawns systems and processes that are in place to guide them to build a successful business. In addition, Brandon is a Certified Franchise Executive and is active within the International Franchise Association.