As Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, said “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Likewise, a company’s brand is what people think of the organization – but it is also the compilation of each employee’s personal brand. So how do you develop a strong brand for your organization? It starts from within.
Brand expert Denise Lee Yohn puts it simply: “Great brands start inside.” It starts with your people and your culture. Your brand is only as good or as strong as your people will make it.
Each of your employees has a personal brand, whether they realize it or not. If they are not proactively managing their brand, it doesn’t mean they do not have one. Rather it means they are allowing others to define their brand for them.
Larry Linne, author of Brand Aid, puts it this way: “Your brand cannot be hidden. It is created by your existence and everything you do. If you don’t manage it, others may create a brand for you that isn’t what you want.”
Don’t risk the reputation of your employees or your company. Instead of letting your employees’ brand be created by others, make a commitment to providing resources and guidance to assist them in building strong personal brands. How do you do this?
There is no one correct approach to this education. It depends on your organization and your team. Perhaps you create social media guides and make them readily available to your employees to instruct them on proper use of social networking sites. You could hold training sessions and send out regular tips via email or intranet. Whatever method you choose, be sure to give your employees the tools they need to build and manage their brand.
Resources and tips are quite practical and useful, but don’t overlook the value of taking time to engage with your team on a personal level about proactively defining and living their personal brands. Educate them on the role they play in their own brand and the company’s brand.
Is there an employee who has embraced the challenge and showing progress on their brand development? Take a moment to recognize their efforts and wins. Show them you appreciate their work to build and manage their brand. There is plenty of research to demonstrate the value of employee recognition on their engagement levels. Do not pass up the opportunity to encourage your employees to keep up the good work!
Lead By Example
If your company leadership has not embraced personal branding, how can you expect employees to put energy into it? As Lewis Cass said, “People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do.” Encourage your employees to take ownership of their personal brands by doing so yourself.
To experience the true value for your team and organization, and to manage the reputational risk that comes from poor brand management, you must commit to your employees to the building of their brands. Provide them with the resources and framework for success. Making the commitment will provide invaluable and perpetual rewards.