Are Your People Making – or Breaking – Your Brand?

Your brand is the perception people have of your company.  And among those people are two really important groups: the ones who work for you, and the ones you need to work for you.

Ever wonder why some companies just have an easier time recruiting and keeping good employees?  It could be a couple reasons, both brand-related.

First, they could have a brand that appeals to the people they want to recruit.  We may not like to admit it, but some companies are seen as cooler than others.  And those companies attract more potential employees.

The second has to do with a workplace’s reputation.  And while it might seem less obvious, this is a brand thing as well.  Your reputation as an employer is created, cultivated and spread by two groups: people who work for you now, and people who used to work for you.

Let’s talk about that second group first.  If people leave because the work environment is harsh or hostile or demeaning or uncomfortable, they talk about it.  And with social media and online rating sites, they have more ways to rant than ever before.

That has two big implications for your company.  First, you have to be aware of how your reputation as a workplace impacts your brand, and make any adjustments you need to make to improve it.  And second, the way you handle an employee’s departure – even if that employee had performed miserably – will get around.  So do your best to ensure graceful exits, even under the most trying circumstances.

Now consider the people who work for you.  They have a disproportionate impact on your brand, because they affect it in two ways.  First, the way they execute their responsibilities either builds the brand in your customer’s eyes or tears it down.  And second, the way they talk about their workplace – with family, with friends and online – shapes the perceptions people have of you.

That suggests a couple of steps to protect your brand.  First, create and monitor processes to ensure that every employee serves every customer – even an internal customer – well.  Encourage customer feedback, and reward outstanding performance in very visible ways.  Second, encourage employee feedback, and deal with issues as they arise, rather than letting them simmer.

You can present your brand to the world any way you like, but that brand is really a product of what people believe about you.  So look for ways to impact those perceptions by impacting your team members in a consistently positive way.  Not only will your brand be stronger, but retention and recruitment will get easier.