CMO’s and HR leaders who want to improve employee engagement and enhance the company culture have some new insights, thanks to a report and infographic by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and Executive Networks.

Making the Workplace a Brand-Defining Space (fee charged), funded by Culturesphere, found almost 70 percent of marketing and HR leaders believe their management teams have a strong commitment to their company’s identity, culture and shared values, as well as to employee participation in workplace branding.

However, the findings also show that many organizations still have a way to go to align and infuse their brand and culture company-wide.

“It is hard to achieve successful integrated marketing communications or breakthrough marketing without employees both knowing the vision and caring about it,” David Aaker, vice chair of Prophet Brand Consultancy, noted in the report.

“The brand vision that lacks a higher purpose will find the inspiration challenge almost impossible.” 

The Culture and Branding Disconnect

According to the report, only 37 percent of respondents say they have a well-defined corporate culture that is universally embraced and accepted by the organization. About 62 percent believe they have a brand platform with shared values and ethics.

While we typically read about the importance of a company-wide culture in engaging employees and developing brand advocates, these numbers show that many organizations have not yet made that connection.

The report notes that this “reveals a significant gap in organizations’ efforts to embed culture into the fabric of their companies, highlighting another disconnect between the brand platform and the realization and acceptance of the brand as a connecting force across the business."

An additional disconnect was revealed regarding the alignment of corporate culture and brand promises. The report found that only half of those with a defined corporate culture state that it is “extremely well aligned” with their brand promises.

Engaging Employees to Reinforce Brand Qualities

The report went on to reveal how organizations are currently engaging employees to instill their brand across the company.

  • 51 percent of respondents use internal communications campaigns
  • 48 percent hold employee meetings, gatherings and briefings
  • 39 percent implement training and development

The report also highlighted the low level of employee recognition tactics, as only 26 percent of those surveyed say they offer awards and incentives, while 23 percent celebrate milestones and successes.

Further, it was shown that very few have systems and processes in place that motivate employees to share brand values using social collaboration tools (10 percent), private social media networks (12 percent) and mobile or social branding platforms (4 percent).

Leaders also named the top areas they believe require the highest levels of engagement by employees and partners:

  • Company gatherings, meetings, shows and events (31 percent)
  • New product introductions (27 percent)
  • Customer care and handling (26 percent)

“These events and experiences also offer up opportunities for an active and digitally engaged workforce to capture their own experiences and share with fellow employees and customers who can be activated as brand loyalists,” notes the report.

Catering to the Millennial Workforce

As millennials pour into the workforce, they bring their social habits and influence with them, holding social freedom as one of their highest priorities in accepting a job offer — even higher than salary, states the report.

And this can bring big payoffs to companies who understand the benefits that employee ambassadors can bring to their branding efforts.

“Millennials can be a social media megaphone for your company,” notes the report, citing third-party research. “Friends of fans represent a set of consumers 34 times larger than fans themselves.”

So, what are companies doing today to attract and retain these types of employees?

  • 33 percent of respondents have implemented informal dress codes and work styles
  • 32 percent have implemented corporate social responsibility agendas
  • 31 percent have redesigned work environments and facilities 

Other companies have implemented more flexible work hours (29 percent), more open and collegial communication (28 percent), and mobile device-driven interactions (23 percent).

With strong collaboration between marketing and HR leaders, the report concluded, organizations can move one step closer to strengthening their branding efforts across all functions.

“Organizations have long struggled to instill shared values, behaviors and ethics that embody and validate brand platforms, personalities and promises,” noted Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, in a release.

“A tighter linkage between the CMO and the (chief human resources officer) CHRO should be strongly centered on organizational branding and creating cultures that radiate and reinforce core brand attributes and aspirations.”

This research was based on an online survey of more than 230 senior marketing and HR leaders around the world.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  Title image by Luigi Mengato.