Emily Tan
May 22, 2013

Brand building must be a company-wide effort: Forrester

GLOBAL – All chief marketing officers (CMOs) surveyed in Forrester Research’s latest study agree that brand building is a company-wide effort that requires employees in all departments to be brand ambassadors.

Brand building must be a company-wide effort: Forrester

The report also found that 96 per cent of marketing leaders believe that executive team commitment to brand building is critical to its success.

The results for this study were derived from the research firm’s Global Marketing Leadership Online Survey, conducted last September. This round included 67 marketing leaders from Forrester’s ongoing marketing and strategy research panel, 1.5 per cent of whom come from Asia-Pacific.

The study found that marketers are not getting the enterprise-wide support they crave. Only 41 per cent believe their CEO is setting a vision for brand building across all consumer touchpoints and just a third of respondents said that employees can articulate the brand promise.

Alhough nearly half are working at educating the organisation on the brand promise, they believe that employees are not “incorporating the brand into their day to day lives”. A TNS global employee survey supported Forrester’s findings in that fewer than half of respondents understood what was required of them to help deliver on a company’s brand promise.

This matters to brands because in an age where online and offline media has merged, and any single employee interaction could potentially go viral, the brand experience is impacted by frontline and behind-the-scenes employee efforts.

Forrester’s principal analyst serving CMO professionals, Tracy Stokes, wrote in the report that if CMOs can get their entire organisation behind the brand, the overall brand value is enhanced. McDonald’s learnt this when it conducted a study on the drivers of brand trust. The quick-service chain found that the interactions customers had with employees at restaurants were a critical component.

Branding to employees also has the noted benefit of getting employees more engaged and therefore, more productive.

Forrester recommends that CMOs treat internal branding the same way they would handle an external campaign, one that won’t take effect overnight. Employees should be made to feel a part of the brand’s communications strategy and be the first to know about any brand initiative. McDonald’s has reworked its quarterly crew sharing guides to tell restaurant workers not only what is new but also what makes it a good-quality offering. Adobe keeps employees engaged through providing updates at weekly staff meetings, showcasing new work at quarterly all-hands meetings, and launching new marketing campaigns with a big visual splash at corporate offices, noted the report.

CMOs should also consider employing online sharing platforms, such as Yammer or salesforce.com’s Chatter, to keep employees up-to-date on new activities and the impact that the brand has in the marketplace.

The tricky bit in all this is measuring effectiveness. According to Stokes, opinions on the best approach vary from company to company. IBM’s Kevin Bishop, worldwide vice president for the IBM brand system and 'IBMer enablement', noted that he does not believe in measuring employee brand advocacy because it creates inauthentic behaviour. On the other hand, Mechanics Bank conducted mystery shopping to evaluate how bank associates were reflecting the brand and performend customer experience research to evaluate customer satisfaction. And Adobe measures the correlation between brand understanding and employee satisfaction as part of its annual employee survey.

Stokes suggested focusing on business outcomes to drive the right behaviour rather than tracking associated metrics like social shares or training-session attendance, which just allows workers to check the boxes.

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