PANEL / BRAND CONNECTION
INVITING THE WORLD INSIDE Inside-out brand building creates those coveted lasting relationships with stakeholders. Industry leaders who joined Gideon Fidelzeid in New York for a PadillaCRT-hosted panel emphasized values and employees can be your greatest asset
M Companies must encourage staffers to share their brand stories, agreed industry leaders Barry Saunders (top), Leslie Coyne (bottom left), and Teresa Yoo (bottom right).
| December 2016
any companies think they’ve aced the brand purpose test and, in doing so, have built a lasting connection with various stakeholders. In reality, though, they have only scratched the surface. Is it about being the best in a respective category? Is it about characteristics such as being trustworthy, innovative, and communicative? Those are all important, of course, according to Barry Saunders, principal at Joe Smith — the brand consultancy of PadillaCRT. However, the former focuses more on the brand than the customer, while the latter hardly differentiates from any competitor. “Most people get to table stakes [such as being trustworthy] that are just OK, but who isn’t expecting these things from a company they want to do business with?” he asks. “Values have to be backed by actionable, observable behaviors. They are things that people say about you because they’ve experienced them — not just because they’ve heard you say them.” With a behaviorally based brand purpose, employees are empowered to express what the brand stands for in their interactions with consumers. In turn, this has a powerful impact on what customers think of the brand. This was a key point for all four leaders on this PadillaCRT-hosted panel about building brands from the inside out. Mayo Clinic, a hospital that deals with the most difficult health cases, cultivates a patient-first purpose reinforced by communications that it shares with its employees before the outside world. “We always start inside,” reports Amy Davis, division chair of communications. “We never want our staff to learn something about us in the paper.”
BRAND CONNECTION / PANEL
Global head of GE University Relations, GE
Division chair, communications, Mayo Clinic
Principal, Joe Smith — the brand consultancy of PadillaCRT
Content includes a twice-weekly e-newsletter to staff with only inspiring stories about patients, no operational or business news, adds Davis. One story might be about a father who bought gifts for his children with the help of the care team because it was going to be the last Christmas he spent with them. Another could be about a boy with a terminal disease playing video games with a nurse during her weekends off. “All of that goes out externally only after it’s been shared internally,” she explains. “We find it really inspires our staff. Those are the same things that make patients inspired to want to come here.” The panelists agreed the brand purpose communicated externally should be — at its essence — the same as the one expressed internally. “We don’t tell stories differently,” adds Teresa Yoo, VP, brand strategy and experience design at IBM. “We want the stories to be authentic. We like to feature the people behind the stories — our employees. That’s where it feels honest, authentic, and relatable on lots of levels, not just in terms of, ‘That’s an amazing innovation.’”
Different versions, same content Teresa Yoo
VP, brand strategy and experience design, IBM
Recently retired SVP of culture and communications, Southwest Airlines
Saunders advises marketers to build in the capability to bend their core story so they can achieve maximum relevance for each target group. He uses a personal analogy to explain what he means. “I’m a spouse, a dad, a grandfather, and a son of aging parents,” he explains. “When something happens that the family wants to know about, I’m going to give the boys the abbreviated version — they just want the facts; my mom, a very long, detailed version; and my wife, an artist by profession, a more emotional and conceptual version. Then I’m going to give my grandson a high five. “I’m still sharing the same content,” continues Saunders, “but I’m dialing up different pieces of it depending on my audience.”
“Values have to be backed by
actionable, observable behaviors”
— Barry Saunders, Joe Smith — the brand consultancy of PadillaCRT
Leslie Coyne, global head of GE University Relations, says learning to recognize work produced for external audiences can also be strong purposebuilding platforms internally. She cites a college recruitment video called What the World Needs. “It was a beautiful illustration of how GE is making an impact in different industries,” she recalls. “A year later, our VP of HR said, ‘I want all of our senior executive officers to see this. This is our rallying cry. Why didn’t we do this when we created this for students?’ So I don’t know that we’ve cracked the code on this, but the day we do, we’ll be a much better company.” (Continued on page 43)
Recruitment strategy Highlighting the traits that make an organization attractive to staffers will often resonate strongly with consumers Companies that build their brand from the inside out typically have strong employer brands. They can wage a war on talent while reinforcing their brand purpose and values to consumers.
UPS consistently deploys consumer content featuring employees expressing the emotional rewards they get from making deliveries, which works just as well as a recruitment strategy. On Facebook, it recently featured a video of a special delivery from the Toronto Blue Jays to a Little League baseball team.
Sam Adams conveys its value proposition by focusing on the individuals who make its beer. Like a growing number of brands, employees are featured in content that positions beer makers as friends, not just coworkers.
Sold on social Companies are also turning to social media for employer branding and recruitment.
Salesforce illustrates its employment culture on Instagram. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, millennials will account for 50% of the global workforce in 2020, making the videoand photo-sharing website perfect to reach future leaders.
L’Oréal has also created recruitment pages on Instagram, as well as on Facebook. Using the umbrella L’Oréal Talent, the brand populates the pages with fun office images, employee-led CSR activities, tips on acing job applications, and content on how it is transforming the beauty industry. December 2016
PANEL / BRAND CONNECTION
Leslie Coyne Global head of GE University Relations, GE
Division chair, communications, Mayo Clinic
Barry Saunders Principal, Joe Smith — the brand consultancy of PadillaCRT
VP, brand strategy and experience design, IBM
What key factors empower your inside-out brand-building initiatives? It’s finding the right story inside your brand that will resonate with your audience. Over the last couple of years, we’ve transformed our messages to focus more on how GE gives the world what it needs. When we started talking about our technology in terms of the lives it is saving, our brand really started to resonate with various audiences.
It’s getting everyone to feel they play a role in taking care of patients. And it starts with who we hire. Not every employee is a match. Our orientation program gets every employee connected to the brand. We’re very deliberate with employee engagement because we know they build our brand.
In recent years, we’ve started getting executive-level calls that were no longer just asking us to build a really good campaign. It was more about giving their people a reason to get out of bed in the morning. This epitomizes the rise of purpose and how that purpose connects employees to their brands and all other stakeholders.
We talk about brand in terms of character. Your brand comes from being clear about who you are; what you value; what you believe; and what you want to do in the world. And, just like personal character, it manifests itself in the experiences you create, the behaviors you exhibit, and the role you play in the world every day.
What are the keys to finding the story that will truly create a strong brand connection with all stakeholders? Our chief global research tech leader in India starts every conversation by saying 5.8 million people in India do not have access to electricity. Another 3.4 million don’t have running water. His mission is to change that. It’s his experience and his passion. It’s the strongest story for him to tell about GE.
Mayo Clinic is never the hero in our stories, our patients are. The patient is Luke; we are Yoda. The patient is Frodo; we are Gandalf. Sometimes we give patients answers. Other times we hold their hand and give them dignity when we can’t answer. All brands should make customers the heroes.
Great storytelling is about matchmaking. But a key consideration must be what your intended audience is willing to hear. Stories must be adaptable. You need a portfolio of storytelling options that enables you to connect that audience with your brand. You don’t want a perfectly presented story that gets told at the same steady drumbeat over and over.
Brand is a two-way street. It’s a conversation. We shoot more for relevance than visibility or volume. And only the audience can determine relevance. Think back to the 2008 financial crisis. Our storytelling focused on creating arguments for how things could be better. It was relevant in the context of prevailing global sentiment and what IBM brought to the table.
How is building your brand different in 2016 than it was in 2006? So many factors now exist that didn’t a decade ago, and they allow you to take risks and experiment with new opportunities. For example, we were one of the first employers on Snapchat, and we learned so much. So many different platforms give brands unprecedented opportunities to learn and adjust on the fly.
| December 2016
Consumers are so overwhelmed with information now. They won’t come to you. You have to meet them where they are. For some people, that means their mobile device. For others, it’s Facebook or news apps. You used to be able to focus your strategy on one or two channels. That won’t work now.
In 2006, it was about presenting your brand in all its polished glory, buttoned up so neatly, having full control over it. Now, there are no more one-way conversations. It’s all about dialogue. And maintaining any control over dialogue means a newfound appreciation for what it takes to be meaningful and relevant to consumers.
The importance of the words authenticity and experience has risen exponentially from 2006. If your brand is not authentic to your character today, people find out in seconds, not days or weeks. Similarly, it is more critical than ever to create experiences that are true to your brand.
BRAND BUILDING / PANEL
The benefits of engaged employees
Companies must not only equip, but also encourage staffers to tell their brand story, the panelists unanimously concurred. For instance, GE created a platform called MyGEStory.com that encourages the sharing of employee stories. “I wrote mine about how GE has enabled me to be a better mom, even though I thought I would only work until I had a child,” notes Coyne. “When I see the incredible work of our scientists, I go home and encourage my child to go deep in science and math.” As a global tech thought leader, IBM also encourages its staffers to be active on social media. “When we look at social, I always ask, ‘Did you take out the IBMers? I want to know if this is real or are all of us
Employees are a foundational element of building brands from the inside out. Below are statistics that show the impact engaged and informed employees have on factors directly related to the bottom line
Companies that increase their number of talented managers and double the rate of engaged employees achieve, on average, 147% higher earnings per share than their competition
$2,400 Employee engagement programs can increase profits by $2,400 per employee per year Source: Workplace Research Foundation
“Our employees create our
Organizations that have more than 50% employee engagement retain more than 80% of their customers
Customer retention rates are 18% higher on average when employees are highly engaged Source: Cvent
Source: Demand Metric
9 times 50% Organizations in which employees are motivated by shared values and a commitment to a mission and purpose are nine times more likely to have high customer satisfaction
Companies that outpace their competitors in customer experience have 50% more engaged employees than those with customer experience that lags their peers
Source: Temkin Group
of employers have seen an increase in customer loyalty as a result of increasing employee educational requirements Source: CareerBuilder
brand every day in their interactions with patients”
— Amy Davis, Mayo Clinic
going out there and talking about something,’” says Yoo. “Externally, our employees are very involved. We have the most employees on LinkedIn of any company. So they are out there telling IBM stories.”
Discover your purpose
Mayo Clinic has a blog where staff and patients can share stories, ask questions, leave comments, and read employee profiles. Davis understands that some companies are fearful of letting their employees loose on social media, but as she points out, “Our employees create our brand every day in their interactions with patients. Why wouldn’t we want them to be doing the same thing on social media?” Saunders stresses it all comes back to companies understanding their brand within the context of people’s lives. “The simplest way to think about a brand is its purpose — its promises that you will always live by,” he asserts. “The world is way too skeptical of business for us to not figure out that real authentic connection of what our purpose is, what our promises are, and what experiences we’re going to deliver.”
For more from this panel, including tips on winning over consumers who might never be customers, as well as additional highlights from Ginger Hardage’s keynote, visit prweek.com/us/customevents December 2016
PANEL / BRAND CONNECTION
Working for the brand 1. Hire
tough so you can manage easy 370,000 résumés received 6,000 employees 2% hired
“Last year, Southwest Airlines hired only 2% of the people who applied,” reports Hardage. “The lesson: hire tough so you can manage easy. Make sure you’re getting the best employees who have their values aligned with yours.”
2. Don’t be too prescriptive Injecting enthusiasm and a sense of ownership among employees is a crucial first step in establishing a culture upon which strong brands are built. Southwest Airlines is regarded as an organization that has long excelled on this front. “Putting people first is so important to any brand,” explained Ginger Hardage, recently retired SVP of culture and communications at Southwest Airlines, who delivered the keynote prior to the panel. “If you have happy employees, they will take care of your customers and your shareholders are going to be served.” Hardage shared some strategies that underscore the philosophy that continues to drive Southwest (see right), but that can certainly be adopted by any brand. “Make sure employees feel like owners,” she noted. “When they do, they build your brand from the inside out.”
A young flier left his most prized possession, Hanover Bear, on a flight from Jacksonville, Florida, to Kansas City, Missouri. After his mother called Southwest, one employee — totally of her own volition — not only made sure to find the teddy bear, but get it back to the boy within two days, complete with a handwritten note from Hanover Bear. “If you’re too prescriptive,” advises Hardage, “your employees might not come up with these wonderful, creative ways for solving problems and surprising and delighting your customer.”
It is a calling
7 1% It is my calling 17% It is a job 12% It is a steppingstone in my career “On our employee survey,” notes Hardage, “we ask how they would describe their work at Southwest Airlines. Is it a job? A steppingstone? A calling? For us, 71% said it is a calling. That’s something we all seek in our organizations to make sure employees feel that level of ownership. If you don’t ask this question in your employee survey, I encourage you to do so.”
Key takeaways Start with your employees, don’t end with them
Brand is a two-way street
Leaders must energize the team
You’re nothing if you’re not authentic
Brand and culture are two sides of the same coin
It starts with the right hire
They shouldn’t be the afterthought in comms. You need a deliberate strategy to inspire their hearts and minds and make them feel connected to your organization.
Whether it’s the stories or the experiences, everything a brand does must be true to its character or consumers will see through it. 44 prweek.com
| December 2016
Relevance is more important than volume in storytelling. You must meet stakeholders where they are. Your stories must be adaptable for different audiences.
The brand you present to the world is heavily based on your organization’s culture. You can’t think about one without the other.
A key part of engagement is ensuring staffers remember why the organization does what it does. It enthuses the workforce and enables them to best represent the brand. Employees are the foundation of inside-out brand building, so it’s vital to bring in people who are good fits and to immediately create emotional connections for them.