As companies and organizations hire employees that fit into their corporate culture and resonate with their values/goals, they are essentially creating personified versions of their corporate brand. Or, the reverse, people are creating a more personable version of corporate brands. We now see this as humans blog, tweet, and interact online on behalf of their company. These people have been coined “brand-ividuals.”
And, as Kate Trgovac mentioned in her talk at the CNW breakfast, brand-ividuals can be great for a company as they build trust and provide clarity for stakeholders. It’s much easier to trust a person over a company, especially when that person is “speaking your language.”
I recently had an interaction with a brand-ividual: Toby from Eclipse Awards, who does fantastic work by the way. He sent out an e-mail to his customers that had nothing to do with the great service or products he provides. It was an e-mail to let his customers know of an event that was happening in the community that aligned with their corporate values (and their customers’) that he recommended them attending.
You see these kind of recommendations all the time on social networks – even when they aren’t necessarily related to the product/service the company provides! The point here is that Toby, like these other great brand-ividuals, reach out to their customers to add value to the existing relationship he had with them by being generous with information. They are human. They are honest. They give freely without asking for anything in return.
Your company’s front line workers – those who are in contact with your customers – should be your brand-ividuals, not your communications team. Why? They are the ones building relationships between your company and its customers and are able to provide a human twist to the “official content” that your communications team produces. Does your communications team censor every e-mail that goes out from a corporate account? I sure hope not!
So what do you do to ensure they are successful if they are providing all this unofficial content?
- Prepare them to be great stewards of your brand – arm them with information, training, and resources.
- Excite them about why you do what you do – what they are passionate about, they will talk about.
- Build a team of brand-ividuals – so when one leaves, you aren’t SOL.
What I love most about brand-ividuals is that companies don’t choose who their brand-ividuals are, their customers do. Customers chose who they trust and who their relationship will be with. Therefore, the only choice for the company is whether or not to embrace the already selected brand-ividuals and help them be great stewards of your brand.
Pick of the post: The Ting Tings – We Walk