Companies spend enormous sums of money to create, manage, and protect valuable brand assets: names, logos, web sites, and ad campaigns, to name a few. Another valuable brand asset that resides within organizations that goes under-utilized too often is the human resources that carry out the work of the firm: the employees. In today’s highly connected world, individual employees can build personal brands to put a face on a company. The payoff is creating a relationship connection point with customers and other stakeholders.
This concept is discussed by Kaplan Mobray in a piece he wrote for Advertising Age. Mobray cites the impact of individuals like Kevin Carroll (Nike) and Keith Wyche (Pitney Bowes) who have positively impacted corporate brands by spreading their wings and sharing their expertise and passion with others. Strategies recommended to leverage employees’ personal brand equity include having employees use social media like Twitter and Facebook and include key employees’ names when managing search engine optimization and paid search.
Companies that are able to create visibility for employees (or leverage visibility they already have) are in effect creating additional brand associations for the corporate brand as well as building relationships with customers and others. It comes down to tapping an existing resource. Employees are not merely hired help that complete assigned tasks, they are your brand.
Link: Ad Age – “How to Turn High-Profile Employees Into Brand Ambassadors”
As social networking has emerged as a communications medium, businesses have focused on the marketing implications in terms of influencing relationships with customers and prospects. Another potentially value marketing application of social networking web sites is enhancing communication within the internal (employee) market. A recent Business Week cover story raises the point that companies stand to gain if they can figure out how to harness the power of social networking to strengthen communication and knowledge sharing among employees.
According to the Business Week article, internal research done at IBM found that consultants with tighter e-mail communication relationships with their bosses generated an average of $588 more revenue per month. Of course, employees that make the effort to establish relationships with their superiors may also be driven to engage in other behaviors that would contribute to generating more revenue. In other words, it is far too simplistic to suggest a causal relationship. But, the findings are intriguing in that they illustrate potential benefits of employees connecting with superiors as well as their peers via social networking.
If employees are able to build stronger personal and professional bonds with their peers, it creates a path for more collaboration as well as sharing information about products, customers and competitors. The increased flow of communication and shared knowledge are vital to creating a culture of innovation.
Link: Business Week – “Learning, and Profiting, from Online Friendships”