Collaboration: key to internal brand advocacy

Collaboration: key to internal brand advocacy

To ensure the whole organisation is on-message – and that brand promise matches customer reality – how can marketers build consistent advocacy for their brand among colleagues?

If people within your organisation don’t get the brand message, why would you expect your customers to?

“It is often overlooked that within every employee lies a potential brand evangelist,” says Mark Evans, CMO of Direct Line Group. “We believe that we have 10,000 people who can make or break the brand promise in every interaction they have with our customers. However, the unavoidable truth is that how you treat your people will largely define the level of advocacy that you can realistically expect to find. In recognition of that, one of our core company values is to ‘Do the Right Thing’ and that applies equally to our people and our customers. We also invest time and effort in ensuring that our people understand our brand promise.”

“There are so many customer touchpoints for businesses now, it is essential every employee represents the company’s culture and is an authentic brand advocate,” says John Webb, director of marketing EMEA at Spiceworks, a professional network for the global IT industry.“Not only does this give customers a consistent view of your brand, regardless of who they are in contact with, but it also builds a strong company internally.”

How to build it

“Individuals need to be given the freedom and responsibility to be themselves,” says Webb. “Just as you shouldn’t treat customers as marketing leads, you shouldn’t treat your employees as a statistic. Trusting them to represent your brand in an authentic, honest way is essential to nurturing true brand advocates – both internally and externally."

Evans from Direct Line also believes that trusting employees to represent the brand and its values helps foster genuine brand advocacy internally. “While many social media teams simply act as a filter for a separate customer service team, brands should consider giving them the power to help people with their queries from beginning to end. This gives them the ability to maintain a conversation within their customers’ channel of choice.

“This empowerment is also key to the team’s high level of engagement and motivation. By retaining ownership, each team member feels a genuine sense of achievement since they see a customer’s perception of the brand change positively throughout the course of the query. Giving employees the opportunity to be ‘fixers’ ensures that the brand promise runs throughout the whole company, not just the marketing department.”

Bolting on a philosophy and a positive ethos isn’t enough, insists Webb. "Brand promise can’t be achieved through motivational posters on a wall or internal meetings focused on ‘being the brand'. The best brands in the world have one thing in common – authenticity. Employees choose to align themselves with a company’s brand because they believe in the values the brand exudes. They have a clear understanding and commitment to representing the brand in all interactions with customers, potential employees, colleagues and friends. And most importantly, they understand the health of the brand is directly tied to the authentic way in which it’s shared both internally and externally."  

Building internal brand advocacy – key tips
  1. Include everyone – from the receptionist to the CEO. Advocacy can only happen when everyone is included.
  2. Hire individuals who will not only thrive in their role but who will also represent your company in the right way.
  3. Leadership must lead. Employees take their cues from leaders so company executives must eat, sleep and breathe the values a company stands for.
  4. Let employees be themselves. If you’ve hired the right way, you can allow your employees to be their authentic selves.
  5. Keep employees informed and engaged – invest time and money ensuring they clearly understand the brand promise and the outcomes of the way they deliver it.
Phil Lattimore Freelance Journalist CPL
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