It used to take money (i.e. a healthy marketing budget) to build a company’s brand, and it was very controlled, distributed by the company to the public through specific media channels, such as newspapers, magazines and television. If a company executive said the wrong thing or made a mistake, word of it spread slowly — it could take a day or more for news organizations to hear about it and pick it up. In addition, it was difficult for people to band together and to have a voice. Communication and marketing was truly one-way.
Communication and marketing now happens in multiple directions. Times have changed. The rules have changed. Technology has changed. For example: With the speed and ease of sharing news today, if a company executive says the wrong thing or makes a mistake, word of it will spread to thousands in just a matter of seconds (thanks most particularly to Twitter and Facebook).
In today’s culture, every person within your organization has a voice and can be, whether intentionally or unintentionally, the voice of the brand. Branding has gotten personal.
Rather than be afraid of this phenomenon, it is time to embrace it.
Here’s how to do that: Building a successful brand starts with putting together a team that will help you be successful. This means you can’t let just anyone define your company’s brand, especially without your knowledge of how they feel or what they think of your brand. You have to hire people and/or outsource to marketers who share your company’s vision and values. And then you have to give them the information they need to know, train them how to communicate this information and empower them to speak on your company’s behalf.
How do you know if you have the right team in place?
Use these tips to develop a solid foundation to hire your brand ambassadors:
- It starts with passion for what your company does and who you do it for. It is easy to fake a lot of things in the business world, but passion isn't one of them. It is the difference between being average and standing out from others who do the same thing. The difference between good and great is that great companies utilize their team members’ passion to differentiate their brand from the competition.
- Each and every person associated with your company needs to understand what your mission is — share your vision and values publicly and frequently. Do not compromise anything in your mission statement, no matter who the team member is.
- To be relevant, your company’s brand must be allowed to grow and evolve. Don't let it become stale but make sure it always reflects the "true" essence of your company.
- All of your thoughts/actions, as well as your team members’, are perceived as your company’s brand. Remember: Anything and everything can affect the brand's reputation, positively or negatively. Think about that when you and your company are at a crossroads: Someone is always watching or listening — don't assume that what you or your team members say/do won't be heard or seen by others.
- Communicate. Respond to emails. Return phone calls. Tweet. Write blogs. Participate. Network. Do whatever you need to do to be present in your industries and markets.
- Communicating is a two-way street — if you want others to care about what you have say, then you truly have care about what they have to say. Listen, listen, listen.
- Seek outside expertise. Too often companies branding efforts become stale because internal teams fall into the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” rut. Shake things by finding an outside marketing consultant or agency that understands your industry and has a passion for it.
- Be trustworthy.
It all boils down to this: Don't let just anyone define your company’s brand. Pick your team very carefully, arm them with what they need to know and then give them opportunities to work for you.
If you’re looking a partner with passion, let’s talk!