A few weeks ago, I celebrated a milestone birthday at what is commonly called the “Happiest Place on Earth.” It was my first visit to the Magic Kingdom, and I wondered how true that claim really was – how “happy” could this place really be? To my delight, I truly was thrilled the entire time I was there, and so was everyone else. Not just the kids and parents were enjoying their time together, but the employees – or “cast members,” as they are officially called – were living and breathing the idea that this was the happiest place on earth. It made the experience feel complete, unique and most importantly, authentic to the Disney brand we’ve all grown up loving.
When we bring on a new client, they typically want to do one of two things in regards to their brand, depending on their perceived potential opportunity for growth: 1) Redefine their brand as a whole, or 2) Refine their existing brand messaging and creative assets to make them more successful. In either case, the question I am asked more than any other is, “What’s the most important consideration in the branding process?”
The answer to this question varies depending on a lot of factors – industry, current stakeholder engagement with your brand, target market, etc. – but the standard tactics always apply. Things like an effective website, paid media drivers, earned media support, messaging exercises, collateral design, etc. generally always apply in some form in a brand refresh or launch plan.
But the one area that many clients don’t think about right away is the most important area to emphasize: your employees. Your people are the No. 1 most important part of your brand. They make up your brand, they support your brand, they advocate for your brand. Simply put, they ARE your brand.
Think of how often you go to a restaurant, a bank, a doctor’s office, or any other place where someone is providing you a service. How often do you notice the customer service you are given? If it’s great, you go back to that place again and again. It becomes associated with positive thoughts about that brand, and you recommend it to others. If the service is poor, chances are good that you don’t go back, and you certainly don’t recommend it to anyone else. That brand is removed from your consideration set moving forward.
The same rule applies to any organization, particularly those selling a service, but I would argue that we are ALL selling something in one way or another. If you have people who believe in what they’re doing and trust in who they are doing it for, your brand will speak for itself.
At the end of the day, your company is only as good as the people behind it. The brands that understand this are the brands that succeed. No one wants to engage with a brand whose people seem disengaged and disinterested. Everyone wants to goes back to Disney World, due in large part to the infectious enthusiasm of its entire team of cast members – from ride operators, to store clerks, to Mickey Mouse, and everyone in between who contribute to the magic.
Are you considering your employees when you discuss your company’s brand? What are you doing to create brand advocates within your own four walls? We’d love to hear what’s working well for you, as well as how we could potentially help your brand take positive steps forward.