Top Brandful Organizations in 2013

Welcome to my final blog post for 2013. The following companies make the list of of top brandful organizations this year: Trader Joe’s, Netflix, Zappos, Starbucks, IBM, L’Occitane, Patagonia, Nick’s Pizza & Pub, Viking Cruises, Ikea, The Container Store, Wegmans, Rackspace, and Tesla. What sets these companies apart from others? It’s quite simple: the employees genuinely believe in the products and services they help deliver… so much so that they actually help promote them, voluntarily. Employees at these organizations are critical to current and future success of the business.

While many experts are now posting their recommendations for 2014, I believe one of the most strategic actions any company can make in the new year will be to connect employees meaningfully and authentically with the brand. For example, at Trader Joe’s, some of the employees spend most of their paychecks on purchasing groceries in the store. And most employees there can tell you their favorite products, if you ask.  Or employees at Rackspace may spend more time than necessary online interacting with each other and customers about optimizing the services they provide because they are just that passionate about them.  Brandful employees help to evolve the success of the business.

The organizations mentioned above do not necessarily depend on employee engagement programs or internal marketing campaigns or even employer branding initiatives, to create a brandful workforce. They rely primarily on the strength of their products and services and how they run their business from a people perspective. These are the principles of the brandful approach.

In 2014, more organizations will understand the potential of the workforce. And it will be great timing as we will embark on a project to design a measurement tool so organizations can understand the level at which their employees are truly behind the products and services they deliver every day. Once they receive their results, they can take necessary action to move the needle on building a more brandful workforce. Please stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the last few days of the year!

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WestJetters’ Christmas Miracle Goes Viral

At the Canadian airline, WestJet, the employees call themselves “WestJetters.” It’s usually a sign that a company has a brandful workforce when the employees come up with a more endearing name for themselves than employee. At IBM, they are called “IBM’rs” and my favorite is still Wegmans who employ “Wegmaniacs.” (Please send me your examples as I like compiling them for future reference.)

Back to the WestJetters. About 150 of them recently volunteered to participate in a recent Christmas miracle for the passengers flying from Toronto to Calgary. Imagine the following travel experience: You are with your family at airport check-in. You notice a large screen in the check-in area with a live streaming video of Santa Claus interacting with you and asking you what you want for Christmas. So you tell him with a chuckle what you want. You board your flight and spend about five hours before landing in Calgary and wait for your bags to arrive at baggage claim. But before your bags arrive, you start to see individually wrapped gifts coming off the conveyer belt. You start to notice other passengers finding gifts with their names. Then you see a gift with your name on it! You grab it and open it and find that it’s exactly what you told Santa a few hours back at the check-in. This blog post cannot do justice to watching the 5-minute video synopsis.

Now, imagine you are a WestJetter. How would you feel to have participated in or simply been employed at a company that produced such an event? Would you want to spread the news about your employer and promote the brand? I would be thrilled to reach out to everyone I knew to brag about such a true story. If you have a holiday story about a brandful employee or a brandful workforce, please share it with me.

For other brandful examples or to share this one, click here or purchase my book, The Brandful Workforce: How Employees Can Make, Not Break Your Brand.

Happy Holidays!

Holiday Parties Turn Employees Into Brand Ambassadors

This is the time of year to focus on amplifying the fourth brandful channel: Celebration. What better time of year for employees to get behind your brand, than the holidays? It’s the perfect opportunity for your internal brand ambassadors to spread the love for your products and services to their friends and family as they gather together.  Is there a heart-warming story about one of your products or services that can be re-told across your organization as an example of your powerful brand? What accomplishments have the employees made during the year that can be celebrated as part of the holidays? By shining a spotlight on your workforce as an important part of your brand’s success, holiday parties can be transformed into truly engaging events that build a more brandful workforce.

Comment below if you attended a holiday party that made you more jazzed about the brand.  Did you share your enthusiasm on your social network? Did you donate anything on behalf of your organization to help others? How did your actions impact the brand? I’d love to include it among my brandful examples.

To read more about how celebrations can be an effective way for employees to advocate for your brand, please see my book, The Brandful Workforce: How Employees Can Make, Not Break Your Brand. For previous blog posts or to share this post, click here.

 

Forcing Engagement Is Not Engaging

Should employees be paid to tweet? Should they be required to be active on social media? This week I read a couple of different articles about how employers are leveraging their workforce toward their brand, but in a way that contradicts the approach outlined in my book, The Brandful Workforce.  While I advocate for an authentic and meaningful connection between employees and the brands they represent, others are steamrolling ahead with force.

Kudos to Venture Beat, an online news publication, for leading a new research initiative on “Work and Privacy” that is looking at how professionals use their social media accounts and whether their employers are encroaching on their privacy. While the survey is still ongoing, it is astonishing that they are already finding some employees (17%) saying they are required to use their social media accounts to discuss and promote their work. It is one thing to encourage employees to get involved, but making it a requirement, it going over a dangerous edge. Organizations who follow this path may be fostering fake promotion that will be easily discovered and brought to shame. What if employees don’t genuinely want to promote their work?  What about new approaches that encourage employees to raise concerns and get involved in solutions? Old managerial methods such as top-down approaches – “I’m the boss. You’d better do as you’re told.” will not be sustainable in the future, particularly as the lines between the internal organization and the external brand disappear.

What do you think of forcing employees to become socially active to enhance the brand? Please share your comments. To see previous posts, please visit my blog here.

Don’t Stop Saying Thank You After Thanksgiving

Some organizations have a culture of giving thanks, regularly. And it’s not just from the manager down to the front-line. It’s between peers who truly care about each other, as well as up the ladder from an employee to a boss. It’s just part of the regular course of doing business. Employees in these types of cultures don’t even realize how thankful they are because it’s just how they operate.

Do you have this type of culture? Leave a comment below and join in the discussion. Do you want to have this kind of culture in your organization? Check out my new book, The Brandful Workforce: How Employees Can Make, Not Break Your Brand, and find out more.