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April 16, 2008

INSIDER EXPERIENCE:How events can make employees brand ambassadors

For most people brand experience marketing begins and ends with the customer, after all, at the end of the day, marketing is all about sales, isn’t it? Sadly, once again, the people that matter most are overlooked, whether this is down to the mistaken belief that your staff are the responsibility of the HR department, or they should be happy to be working for your company, there is often a pervading belief that a cutting-edge marketing technique has no relevance for an internal audience.

Fortunately, things are changing and there are plenty of companies out there to show us the error of our ways. Matt Ralph, creative director at employee engagement consultancy NKD Group, puts things into perspective. “Research suggests that an engaged workforce is 56% more likely to engender above average customer loyalty and 27% more likely to have higher profitability," he says, "so employee brand experiences are just as important as customer brand experiences in creating shareholder value.”



Engaging your staff in your brand values can have
a wide range of benefits to the wider organisation

This is backed up by Julian Bazley, incentives specialist for performance improvement agency Maritz, who adds: “For your brand to live up to your customers’ expectations, your employees’ and your customers’ perception of the brand must be the same. For this reason it is crucial to build brand understanding throughout the company, cascading the identity from board room to post room.”

Engaging experiences
Justin Isles, account director of mobile event specialist Event Marketing Solutions, agrees. “A brand experience is an unparalleled mechanism for engaging, briefing and motivating an internal audience," he says. "We are seeing an increasing demand for mobile solutions that take the message directly to the employees and deliver maximum impact by allowing the client to have total control of the environment.”

So with the importance of the employee brand experience a given, how can companies go about creating an experience that effectively gets their respective brand images across to their staff?

Obviously, the starting point, as with most events, is understanding your audience – their motivations, what will engage them, what turns them off. But one place where companies often fall flat – and this may seem a basic point – is in actually understanding their own brand and values – everything from the visual identity and tone of voice, through to the music and video styles that reflect these values.

Mark Ivackovic, managing partner events for events agency Euro RSCG Skybridge, explains why companies more often than not go wrong. “The issue in creating the perfect employee brand experience often lies in the fact that many companies simply cannot define what the brand actually stands for," he says. "Indeed, it is often confused with the mission statement of the company and that in turn is often misunderstood as a desire, something which the company is looking to aspire to. As a result, many organisations are perplexed when deciding how to construct and implement an employee experience that reflects what the brand truly represents.”

Five simple outcomes
But even once you’re over this, is there an easy answer? NKD’s Ralph feels there is, and that involves keeping it simple. “You need to consider five simple outcomes and design each project with these in mind to make sure your internal events work," he says. "What do you want people to understand? What do you want them to learn? What do you want them to experience? What do you want them to feel? And most importantly, what do you want people to do differently as a consequence of the intervention?

“It is also important to consider what has gone before – don’t rubbish it, but evolve it," he continues. "If it looks or feels like something completely different, employees will believe this is just the latest fad. Finally, be sure of the organisational context. If you are communicating messages of cost control you must be careful that your experience matches this ethos.”

For some companies this journey will be tougher than others as it involves getting to know their staff in ways that they will previously have neglected, but once this has been achieved the benefits of understanding and getting the brand experience right for employees are enormous. Staff at all levels will gain a clear understanding of their role within the company and their responsibility to ensure the success of the brand. In particular, employees will leave the experience re-energised, engaged and powerful ambassadors of your brand.

Next week EVENTS:review will look at what techniques you can use to make your internal brand experience as engaging as possible.


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