A brand without meaning for employees won't have meaning for anyone else. That's why, when you speak to marketers about advertising audiences, they will often point out that a campaign is as much internally directed as it is a branding bullhorn for the consumer world at large, or small, depending on the audience.
But what's the internal organization best suited to instilling internal brand comprehension? How do you create a culture that reinforces brand attributes? A report, “Making the Workplace a Brand-Defining Space,” from the CMO Council with Executive Networks and funded by photo- and video-sharing app CultureSphere deals with all of that. Given that Millennials are becoming the employee base in accelerating numbers, meaning more employees are “social media megaphones,” the opportunities — if a brand gets it right — are potentially quite large, as the study points out: the reach is each “friend” times 38.
More than 230 senior marketing and HR leaders worldwide — 65% U.S. — did an online survey for the study in the second quarter this year, with 43% coming from companies with more than a billion dollars in revenue. Of all of them, only 37% of respondents said they have a well-defined culture universally embraced by the organization. And social media elements are sorely lacking.
Then the most common ways companies engage employees? For over 50%, it’s internal communications campaigns; meetings, gatherings and briefings are used by companies represented by 48% of those polled; training and development, 39%. There is little social media. Even if they aren't practicing it, chief marketing officers know what they want to use social media for: turning employees into advocates, reinforcing brand authenticity, activating the organization, giving employees a channel for recognizing employee efforts; and humanizing the organization to customers and partners.
Yet, it is mandatory that marketers use social media and digital means to build internal employee brand culture, partly because it creates a structure that aligns with what Millennials want out of a work experience: a collaborative culture (88%); an ability to make the world a better place (64%) and a manager who employers and mentors them.
Let’s look at Millennials. It seems like a lot of companies are copying Googleplex, but only superficially. The study says they are letting employees dress and work more informally, redesigning work environments, and offering flexible work hours. That's nice, along with free granola and top chefs in the free dining room. But the
important stuff? Only a quarter are providing richer collaboration and engagement, according to the study; only 28% of CMOs polled said their companies encourage more open communication; just 37% said they have a culture embraced by the organization. About half of respondents said their companies do mind-melding with briefings, and half those wonderful sleep-athons, called training and development, with Powerpoint as visual Ambien (but I speak for myself). Come to think of it, I’d rather have the frozen yogurt.