“Employers and business leaders need people who can think for themselves – who can take initiative and be the solution to problems.” ~ Stephen Covey
Years ago I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In one chapter, author Stephen Covey asks readers to envision their own funeral. He asks you to think about what people in the room are saying about you.
We all hope that the words will be kind. It’s not a morbid exercise; it encourages us to really think about reputation and legacy.
Covey’s exercise is a good one for businesses, too. How would people describe your company’s reputation? What would they say is the reason to interact with your company? When you have their answers, you have, in a nutshell, what people think your brand is.
How do people form their perceptions of your brand? Many things go into creating a brand – promotion, corporate responsibility, and probably one of the most important is employees.
Consider two brands – Best Buy and Disney. Both are in the business of serving the public, one through consumer products and the other through entertainment. Both have worked hard to establish and maintain their brands. But one, according to Business Insider Magazine, is considered by corporate executives to be among the worst brands, while the other is ranked among the top 20 best brands globally.
The difference between the two is in how their leaders have inspired and enlisted their employees to build and protect their brands. At Disney, every employee – from the park attendants to the ABC news crews – get that they work for a global company and that all of their actions reflect upon Disney’s reputation. Their loyalty is nurtured and they are empowered to satisfy customers. Executives invest time, energy and money into making sure everyone feels they are part of the “cast” and understands expectations of representing Disney.
Recent hurricane Harvey, which devastated parts of Houston and surrounding communities, threw a blow at Best Buys’ brand, as well. During the storm, one Houston Best Buy store found itself fodder for Twitter. When a picture was posted of packs of bottled water being sold for $30 to $50, it went viral. A company spokesperson said that this pricing was a “big mistake” on the part of a few employees at the store, but the damage was done. The picture appeared on all mainstream media and negative perceptions were solidified.
Invest in Employees
Companies spend billions of dollars on advertising in order to convince you that they are the best at what they do. However, advertising will never have the impact that the action of one single employee – for good and for bad – can have. Too often an investment isn’t made into ensuring that employees can be ambassadors for their employers.
Armed with the right training and support, employees will be one of the most valuable tools you’ll have to build a brand.