Voluntary return-to-office policies combined with the uncertainty of COVID-19 are changing workplace cultures and operations. One unforeseen consequence of this change is its impact on your company’s brand.
Your brand is a reflection of your culture. Managing the brand is always an operational challenge, but even more so in a hybrid work environment. When people are not physically together, culture is harder to build, strengthen and communicate — and so is a brand.
Many people immediately think “logo” or message in the marketplace when they hear the word “brand.” Business leaders and marketers know that it’s so much more than that. And employees are an important and often overlooked audience, as both brand builders and brand ambassadors. When employees understand and embrace the strategic direction of a brand, they are able to help a company achieve its mission. Without the understanding of a brand, which is more challenging to convey to remote employees, companies miss a key opportunity to bring the brand to life internally and externally.
Here are three steps companies can take to ensure brand integrity with a hybrid workforce.
- Conduct a brand audit – A brand audit is an analysis of your company’s current position in the marketplace, including its purpose, promise, values and value propositions. It’s also at the top of CMOs’ list of strategic investment projects for 2022. Brand audits typically consist of two parts, an internal review and an external review. A deep dive into the mindset of your key brand stakeholders (employees and clients) and a thorough review of the competition, will help identify any gaps that exist between your current and desired brand perception. It will also inform whether or not your brand platform is still relevant. What was important to employees and clients 3, 5, or 7 years ago or even before the pandemic may not be as relevant today. Our article “Breaking down brand research” shares more tips for benchmarking and testing your brand.
- Update the brand style guide – A brand style guide contains specifications on everything that contributes to your brand platform — including your brand story and voice, messaging, logo, color palette, imagery, fonts and related usage guidelines. It lets your employees know exactly how to present your brand to the world and provides direction for all of your content and design. Make sure your guide starts with your brand story. Every memorable brand is driven by a compelling brand story — it sets the stage for the brand experience and informs the rest of the guide. It also helps employees build a deeper connection with the brand.
Every memorable brand is driven by a compelling brand story — it sets the stage for the brand experience and informs the rest of the guide.
- Communicate the brand – Whether you’re starting over with a rebrand or just realizing it’s a good time to reinforce your positioning in this new hybrid environment, create a communications plan for sharing the brand with employees. Host a webinar or create a video to reveal your brand story and style guide. Welcome new remote team members with branded swag and a QR code for accessing and downloading the guide and logo files. Many people who changed jobs and started working for a new company during the pandemic have never been to the office or met team members in person. It’s important to take a more proactive approach to integrate remote employees into the company culture. You can also make a brand rollout fun by hosting a storytelling or elevator-pitch video contest. There are endless ideas for ensuring your brand doesn’t fail at the execution level.
Employees at every level make decisions that mold a company and influence how the brand shows up to clients. It’s our job as marketers and business leaders to provide them with a well-defined road map to the final destination.