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Brand engagement
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the brand. Want to know how engaged your organisations to manage brands from within,
employees are? as a starting point, find out I have been called upon to help avert a number
“ A brand is the sum
how many buy/use your products. of high-profile strikes in the past five years. In
9
Chief executives – they are chief each case, the core issue wasn’t about pay and of customer
engage ment officers. they inspire others rations, but fundamental commun ication issues,
by example. they are communication such as listening to disenchanted staff, who
interactions with the
role models in all stakeholder engagements, felt their managers were no longer connected
whether with customers, fellow employees, with the values they believed their brand
people who deliver
competitors or even shareholders. represented. In each case, catastrophe was
the promised service.
10
In demand – engaged employees averted through re-opening communication
are a precious commodity. the channels, revisiting core values, r e-evaluating
Brands are built from
war for talent rages irrespective the brand and using these tools to foster
of market conditions. respect and active listening.
within; any chief
many of the qualities detailed above point Six years ago, I was working with British
to people with passion and energy which, if airways, helping to bridge an engagement gap
executive worth their
poorly directed, can easily implode. Strike that had gradually grown between staff and
action is the extreme manifestation of a managers as the organisation attempted to
salt knows it ”
breakdown in employee engagement. implement policy and process changes, which
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However, employees who have switched off many employees deemed to be out of tune
yet still show up to work every day are a more with their corporate culture.
malignant threat to your brand. around the same time, I worked with
relationships are rebuildable, but royal mail as the directors wrestled with a
only if everyone involved remembers that hugely ambitious change programme and were
com munication is more about listening than it anxious to create an internal culture fit for
is about pushing and managing messages. purpose. Since then, millions have been spent
dip into the reporting related to the on advertising and core process redesign in
Fujitsu, British airways or royal mail disputes each case, yet their employee engagement
and you’ll invariably be met with references to and culture development budgets have not
‘last ditch talks’. the trouble is that within followed suit.
organisations where the relationship between Strike action is seldom the product of
brand and personnel is not appreciated, the sudden policy and personnel changes. these
dialogue is always left until last. are rarely the root cause and are often the
Strikes are usually simplified in the corporate straw that broke the back of
press as clashes of intransigent polar extremes; employee goodwill. People care more about
management versus workers; greed versus the brands they work for than you may think.
survival. But they’re a lot more complicated Culture – the way people do things within the
than the caricatures of greasy pinstripes versus organisations that support those brands – is
blue collar table-bashers suggest. probably the most important determinant of
Consider the problems faced by the brand performance. If you agree that there’s
UK’s royal mail. On the face of it, this dispute some sense in this argument, ask yourself:
can be seen as the once irresistible force l Who and where are your chief
of new Labour’s spin doctors meeting the engagement officers?
formerly immovable object of trade unionism. l How would you describe the relationship
But talk to the ordinary postie or customer between marketing and Hr?
and you’ll find that this dispute is about much l What measures are you taking to clarify
more. It’s about a fight for identity by employ- your employer brand ?
ees who are emotionally connected with a l What attempts are you making to engage
brand which they, and their customers, see as and manage your talent?
a national institution (see Buckingham; Brand regardless of whether an actual strike is
engagement (www.by2w.co.uk/new.html). likely at your organisation, it’s certainly worth
It’s about culture, ‘the way things get spending some time understanding the true
done around here’, and workers resisting the dna of your brand. If you don’t know what
march of automation, which experience tells brand engagement is worth, especially in these
us may slash cost off the bottom line but does lean times, consider whether you can risk
not guarantee better customer service or an your employees deserting their posts or, even
improved quality of life. It’s a brand battle- worse, disengaged staff continuing to
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ground that reflects hot social issues including represent your brand.
more on brand
culture, values and identity. Leaked papers, disgruntled customers or engagement at
as someone who specialises in helping market intelligence, anyone? www.warc.com
ADMAP FebruAry 2010
DE 42-43 Buckingham LAYOUT 2.indd 2 1/22/2010 14:34:14
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