Is your brand story getting diluted?
There’s a difference between knowing something and believing it. Think about the places you shop or the restaurants you visit. Are the frontline employees going through the motions when serving their customers, or do they seem convinced that they’re sharing a gift with the rest of the world?
It’s a simple equation, and it is one that brands need to ask about their own representatives. Marketing messages tell customers that their company’s product or service can do something for them. Those customers show interest, and a company representative helps them see precisely how the company will serve them and deliver on its promise.
In a perfect world, representatives actually believe in the value proposition they’re selling and are willing to serve customers in a way that backs it up. If a company is making promises frontline employees don’t believe in, its brand story is getting diluted. As a result, it’s failing to live up to customer expectations.
So what is the key to ensuring that doesn’t happen? Think of it this way. Marketers find creative, strategic ways to spark customer interest and drive action all the time. They do this incredibly well. But they sometimes fall short when it comes to doing those same things for internal teams.
Rallying people around a brand is critically important — both inside and out. This is where the importance of internal brand engagement comes in.
How to convey Your Brand Vision: Why vs. What
Companies aren’t strong when there is no internal alignment around the brand vision. Years ago, we worked with a telecom company on a major product rollout. One of the product’s best features was that it allowed users to record multiple shows at once and offered significant storage space for those shows. Sounds great, right?
Well, it could have been. But internal teams weren’t being trained to talk about the why. They were being trained to talk about the what. Instead of training frontline teams on how to convey the difference the product could make in a customer’s life, the company was training them on product information (e.g., how many gigabytes of storage the product had and how many tuners it needed to record shows).
The golden ticket would have been to train those reps to talk with customers about how this product could play into their real lives. Instead of listing off how many hours of content it would hold, they should have been saying, “Now you can make sure all of your episodes of ‘Jeopardy’ are getting recorded while your kids use the TV to watch movies with their friends.”
Sales and service employees need to show customers how a product fits into their world — and how it makes their world better. But first, they have to be aligned; then, they have to believe in what they’re sharing.
How to Adjust the Dial
Here are three ways consumer brands can fine-tune their internal brand engagement to help their frontline teams connect with the story:
1. Start with the punchline.
Tell the most important part of the story first. Why does it make sense for customers? How does it offer unique value to their lives? If frontline teams are being trained to know, understand, and believe in that information first, then they can become advocates for your product and your company. Making it part of your marketing strategy to tell this story to internal teams — instead of sending them an email with a bulleted list of product information — could make a world of difference in increasing internal brand engagement.
2. Manage the flow of information.
When teams need to learn more — and as they begin to ask for more — pull them through that process. Let them seek out more information to help them refine their pitch to customers, but sell them on the story first. If you lay that foundation, you’ll set them up for success. Resist the temptation to give them every detail at once; they’re more likely to digest and use information when you give them what they need in a relevant, manageable way.
3. Share wins across the company.
Celebrate your people. When you have frontline reps out there telling your story in innovative ways and finding success, call attention to it! There is no monopoly on good ideas, so shining a light on the people who are telling your story well and building excellent relationships with customers lets you tap into your team and build brand engagement organically.
Solid brand training is an integral part of crossing the divide between knowledge and belief. When you treat internal teams like internal customers and connect with them like you connect with external customers, you adjust the dial and put yourself on a path to letting internal brand engagement power your external success.