The next time you’re looking for a little fun at the office, try this one on for size: Prowl around a few cubicles and sneak up behind an unsuspecting employee or two. Then, quickly, before they have time to think, bombard them with a series of questions: “How would you define our brand? How does our brand differ from our competitors’ brands? How do we support our company’s brand on a regular basis?”
If you’ve got a sneaking suspicion that you’d get a different response from every employee or, perhaps worse, no responses at all, consider implementing a brand-building program within your organization that educates and inspires employees. When employees know what their company stands for, they better understand what they stand for – and this shared understanding helps them perform better as individuals, teams, and for your organization. For example:
• Develop a company-wide awareness and understanding of what your brand uniquely represents through a broad-based, employee educational program. Emphasize how specific employee behaviors, attitudes, and actions can support your unique brand. Consider an organization like Weight Watchers, where every meeting leader is required to have lost weight (and keep it off!) in the Weight Watchers program. The fact that these leaders ‘walk the walk’ only strengthens the overall credibility of the Weight Watchers brand.
• Create a set of tools to make it easy for your employees to support your brand. Use signage around the office to reinforce key concepts that support your brand: “Acme employees are excellent – so we can deliver excellence to our clients” – or whatever else you want to emphasize. Accenture is a good example of an organization that is committed to helping its employees support their brand – they have established a 24-hour global brand hotline, where marketing professionals can answer brand-related questions and provide assistance to anyone who requires it.
• Create enthusiasm for your brand with top-down support: Consider an internal event, ongoing campaign, employee contest, or other company-wide activities to demonstrate your leadership’s commitment to your brand. For example, television network TNT sponsored a competition among employees to identify the emotional attributes of drama to support its overall brand. (Or, go to the website and see the shows they broadcast, or some of the ways they build the brand internally.) The winner of the competition was given the opportunity to produce a commercial with the specific attribute.
In a crowded marketplace and tough economy, a unique, well-managed brand can make a critical difference to an organization’s bottom line. By building your brand from within your organization, you provide employees with the opportunity to help you maintain a distinct position in the marketplace, and to bring you and your organization even greater success.

Author's Bio: 

Elizabeth Freedman is an expert in career and workplace issues. She is the author of Work 101: Learning the Ropes of the Workplace without Hanging Yourself and The MBA Student’s Job-Seeking Bible, and was a 2005 finalist for College Speaker of the Year, awarded by the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities. Elizabeth runs a Boston-based career-development and coaching firm; clients include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Thomson Reuters and The Gillette Company. To bring Elizabeth to your next association event or workplace meeting, please visit