The Insiders’ Guide to Employee Communications

By Poppulo

Table of Contents

Tips for a corporate and personal brand development strategy

What people say about your company behind your back is your company brand; what people say behind your back is your personal brand. And today more than ever, companies have to be aware of the people aspect of the corporate brand, the benefits it can bring and the damage it can do.

1. Your people are your brand

People are the glue and the strength that holds together all the other elements of the company brand. It’s the people element that gets talked about, that creates the emotion – it’s the emotional hook with the brand that gets talked about more than ever before.

The people element of the brand, the people behaviors, is a much more powerful touchpoint than all the other traditional areas – advertising, sponsorship, website, etc – it’s your people that make the difference.

But there is a risk if the people behavior is not aligned with what the business says it is providing – if a company’s key brand value is to provide exceptional customer service then every element of employee behavior has to be aligned to that brand value.

2. Creating a new dimension of customer experience

The traditional elements of customer experience – performance of products, traditional customer service, technology, facilities, etc – are not good enough anymore. Adding an additional layer of Personality of the Brand is what makes a real difference as it builds trust and respect.

This means giving employees the skills and mindset to be able to modify behaviors that support the brand message: having the right attitude, being mindful of all their communications, verbal and nonverbal, etc.

3. Internal communications and the employer brand

One of the key factors in employee engagement is employees being proud of the leaders in the company they work for, and if they see their leaders being more visible externally, in the media, giving presentations in the community, then they are more proud of the organization.

IC can help people within their organizations be more visible and have their voice heard outside the company, in the media and in the marketplace.

IC can help their leadership to create strong, clear personal brands where they are invited onto panels because of what they are known to be great at, which in turn is great branding for the company.

They get more opportunities to create great PR for your company through having their own strong personal brand, rather than simply being known for their position in the company.

— Lesley Everett, personal brand speaker and coach

4. Your personal brand – think of a pearl in an oyster!

Personal branding is a bit like a pearl in an oyster, which grows organically over time and layers get added to it as it evolves. Your personal brand is similar: everything you do every day can add another layer to your brand, every social media posting, every presentation you make, all of these are adding layers over time. But because you don’t think about it consciously enough you don’t know if they are adding weakening layers or reinforcing your brand positively.

But if you keep remembering this image of the pearl in the oyster and the adding of layers, you will have a heightened consciousness of how what you do influences your personal brand. Reflect on what you did at work yesterday or last week and ask yourself if you think it added a positive or negative layer to your brand.

5. Your authentic self and values versus your personal image

Your authentic self is key to your personal brand, yet like personal values, it can often be hidden away and your brand is based on people’s perception of what they see. Lesley Everett likens it to a tree. The top of the tree is what’s visible and that’s what you’re judged on, even if it’s totally incongruous with what you are.

The roots of the tree are invisible beneath the surface and are like your personal values, your authentic self, your beliefs, your purpose, talents and strengths – but they’re hidden.

She cites the book ‘Authentic Leaders’ by Bill George. The three things successful leaders have in common:

  • Crystal clear values
  • They are transparent with these values, everybody knows what they are
  • They don’t compromise on their values

6. The complete personal brand

There are layers to the complete personal brand, one of values, motivators and strengths, the more visible outer layer of dress and appearance, voice quality, social skills, attitude and behavior, but at the core always is the authentic self.

However, Lesley has found from coaching senior leaders that there is often a big discord between the outer visible layer and the inner authentic self – how people come across is very different from what they are:

I often find that senior leaders have been moulded by the outside world into trying to be something that they are not. So they need to strip the layers back to the authentic core, to what the person really stands for – that is the essential essence of a strong personal brand.

7. You can’t be two brands

Sometimes people say they have two brands, their work and outside of work brands. “They say I have my professional brand and then I have my brand when I’m at home with my family and friends.”

But when you start of thinking of yourself as two brands you are in danger of being inauthentic, because you are only one person you can only be one true brand. Lesley says:

So if you are a fun-loving person outside of work you should be bringing some of that fun-loving personality into work in an appropriate way rather than try to be something you are not.

8. The 7 key principles to building a personal brand – the things you should think about every day.

Who you really are: Your authentic self.

From the outset: First impression is critical. We really need to think about this. We’ve less than seven seconds to form an impression when we meet somebody. We take in the non-verbal to start with; body language and what they are wearing; when they speak it’s not so much what they say it’s the clarity, interest or credibility in the voice and how they say things. If we like what we hear we are more likely to follow what’s being said. If we like what we see and how we’re hearing then we’ll hook into the content of what they’re saying much more effectively, or not, as the case may be. We really need to think more consciously about the first impression we’re making when we walk into a room or when we speak first at a meeting, and not leave it as something we don’t give attention to in the sub-conscious, because people can really get somebody we’re not if we don’t get that first impression right.

Visual brand: The non-verbal communication does count, whether we like it or not. We might think it’s unfair that we’re judged by how we look and what we’re wearing, and perhaps it is unfair, but that’s the way life is today.

The way that we choose to dress and our wardrobe does have an impact on how people judge us, because people believe they get something of our personality by the way we dress.

The important thing here is to think about the way you dress in alignment with the brand that you want to create. Is it in alignment right now or does it need some adjustment, is it an accurate reflection, an extension of your personality?

Think about what’s in your wardrobe and what shouldn’t be? There are things that can let us down without us realizing it when we’ve worked so hard to build our credibility and our professional voice. It’s about not letting your image get in the way of your true qualities and abilities.

Because the visual brand does count so much we need to make sure ours is in alignment with the professional brand we want to project.

Be memorable and visible: This is one of the most important elements of your brand: being memorable and visible and being known for what you are an absolute expert at.

First thing is to think about your goal in your career or your next development area and then think about who are the people you need to be most visible with, who needs to know you better, who needs to know what you’re great at. Because if you have a good brand and nobody knows about who you are, then you’ve wasted your time building it.

We need to get that brand out there and be visible. There are many ways to be visible without shouting from the rooftops, so don’t worry if you are more introvert than extrovert.

Check out the book by Peggy Klaus; ‘Brag! The art of tooting your own horn without blowing it’. Then, we all need a visibility plan: how are we going to be visible with the people we need to be visible with? Have a good LinkedIn profile and update it with recent a photograph.

Presentational brand matters: The way that you present is key to the way that you are perceived. A Senior VP of big tech company once said that one’s ability to get promoted rests with one’s ability to present well. “I can’t stress how important it is to be able to present a message clearly and succinctly that is relevant to your audience. If you’re not great at presenting make it a key development objective this year. Think about how you can weave in stories to be more engaging, and get coaching if you need it, because presentational brand matters and it’s key to being noticed and remembered.”

Statement brand me: This will be the summary statement of your LinkedIn profile. Write down some sentences that sell you, that sum up the brand that you want to be: what motivates you, what are your strengths, what are you really great at, give examples of projects that showed what you are really good at.

Consistency, each time, all the time: For any brand to be successful – company, product or personal – we need to be consistent. A successful, strong brand is a consistent one.

This section is based on a Poppulo webinar with Lesley Everett, President & CEO, Walking Tall: Corporate brand development strategy.

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