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April 4, 2008

"Mark Ivackovic: Bringing your brand to your employees

Many companies dedicate a huge amount of time and effort planning live events that showcase their brand for the entertainment of the consumer, and rightly so. Aligning an enjoyable experience with a brand will assist in the building of its reputation and also have a direct impact on sales levels. However, that same level of commitment should also be applied to creating a brand experience for employees.

Indeed the benefit of understanding and getting the brand experience right for members of staff is invaluable. Employees at all levels will gain a clear understanding of their role and responsibility within the business and in particular they will leave the experience feeling re-energised, engaged and what’s more powerful ambassadors of the brand. But whilst many companies are fully aware of the advantages available to them by staging such an event, many simply fail to do so.

Defining your brand

The difficulty in creating the perfect employee brand experience often lies in the fact that many companies simply cannot define what their brand stands for. While the management might be confident in their understanding, the live event will be lost on employees if that view has not been wholly reflected in the activity communicated to employees during the experience. Furthermore, when companies look to determine the values of their brand, conflicting views often arise because the brand is confused with the mission statement of the company. That in turn is then often misunderstood as 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.

One only has to look at the recent press coverage surrounding the Sainsbury’s National Retail Awards ceremony to see the damaged caused if a brand’s values are undermined at an event. On the one hand there is the tangible expense of the damage to the property and compensation to the venue, which in this case was the highly popular and impressive five-star Celtic Manor Resort in Wales. However, the hidden costs are far more long term. The newspaper reports detailing the antics of some members of the Sainsbury’s staff certainly did not equate with a company which proclaims to exceed customers’ expectations and which places employee responsibility and a respect for the individual as a key part of what its brand stands for. Therefore, leading many employees and customers of Sainsbury’s to question the integrity of the supermarket’s brand.

Importing your brand into a live event

So how do you successfully import a brand’s values into a live event? The answer lies firstly in the need to determine exactly what the brand currently represents in the minds of its employees and consumers. Once this has been agreed those values need to be reflected in all communication before, during and after the event. Most importantly, the communication needs to be true to the brand in order to underline and reinforce its values.

Jaguar in particular has an excellent understanding of what its brands stands for. Indeed, it is based on image, personality, experience and product strengths; attributes that all lead to the brand proposition of ‘beautiful fast cars’. Together these values make up Jaguar’s brand promise but to actually drive the brand, they need to relate to everything they say and do as a company. All messages and interactions with the brand must be consistent.

Living up to your promise

When organising a live event the experience must live up the brand promise on offer. From the first online communication to the venue, themes, entertainment, activities and ongoing interaction for employees, there is the opportunity to continuously underline the brand and what it stands for. The mechanics behind delivering this is partially a logistical process; ensuring artwork is 100% compliant with brand guidelines and the lighting, colours and service levels all match the brand. All touch points with your audience need to be considered and ongoing communications need to be aligned with your brand values to ensure the integrity of the promise on offer.

While the brand can evolve, the brand’s values and promise must remain consistent across all elements of engagement, whether it is the customer experience or indeed the employee engagement, on an ongoing basis.

Mark Ivackovic is managing partner events at Euro RSCG Skybridge

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