You know what’s common to Google and Facebook employees? Other than possessing the bragging rights of working in two of the best organizations in the world?
It’s the immense pride they take in their company. True, the two companies are exciting, use some of the most cutting-edge technology and are changing the world in their own ways. But surely as is a Tesla? Or Unilever? But when was the last time you heard a Unilever employee talk about their company?
The oft-overlooked key to brand building is your own employees doubling up as your biggest evangelists. And it’s not just pure love and pride that make them do that. The companies on their part ensure that employees are motivated, rewarded and gratified amply to project the best impression of their employers. These little steps could be strategic or simply practical, but the fact is they work. Maybe they’re not straightforward, not the easiest, but these if done over a period of time, and built into the company culture can make every employee act like a Google or a Facebook employee, without their paycheque or the equity.
1. Company schwag
Schwag is nothing but company branded merchandise. What are the 3 most common things employees use on an everyday basis? A laptop bag, a coffee mug and some stationery. So why not give them that, and while you’re at it, make sure everything’s branded in the company theme. Not only will the subtle branding all around them will slowly capture mind recall, but every time an employee take their laptop outside the workplace, they or the others around them are sure to not miss the association. Ditto for laptop stickers, coffee mugs, water bottles, the works.
Great companies always share news – bad and good – with their employees. When Google decided to restructure into Alphabet, Larry Page ensured that the employees knew it first hand before the media got to it. You want your employees to not only know what’s important, but also act as responsible PR representatives for the company. It’s no wonder that most company news is shared by a Google or Facebook employee.
3. Email signature
This may be a little step, but encourage the employees to have an email signature that includes their company branding. With the multitude of emails that go out everyday, you never know who might get hold of the number and prove to be a useful audience.
4. Encourage employees to seed campaigns
Companies spend thousands on creating great ad campaigns and videos and then spend thousands more to promote it. Without naming companies, we’ve seen many a great ads by companies, which they hope will go viral while the employees themselves are in the dark about them. Let’s do some simple math. If your company has say 500 employees, and even half of them share a video on their social media platforms, imagine the initial push the ad will get, and be exposed to the thousands in their extended networks. That’s just how virality works. Not to say that an employee share is an alternative to paid media or a great ad altogether, but a necessary and perfect enhancer to it. Notice how hundreds of Googlers shared the “Renuion ads” the day they launched, helping it make it a viral campaign.
5. Company Jerseys and Tshirts
If there’s one thing nobody minds, most can’t have enough of, and everybody needs, is a warm sweatshirt and a good ol’ tshirt. Produced at almost nominal costs at scale, company branded Jerseys and Tshirts don’t only delight your employees, but also serve as great promotional material. It’s not rare to see a Google or Facebook employee going about town in their company’s merch. Not to mention when your better half or family members decide to help themselves to the garment, it’s more than one person advertising your company.
6. Quora and participation in discussions around companies
Millions visit the popular question-answer website every day, and a significant chunk of the questions revolve around internal information on a company’s culture, what it’s like working there, etc. While it’s not the job of your HR manager to personally sift through each of these, use the power of your employees (and their free time on the internet) to double up as spokespersons? Let them answer questions related to your company’s work culture, and proactively bring up your organizations for an open ended question.
7. A great office
You don’t expect someone to post of a gloomy grey and blue office, do you? But throw in some colours, some bean bags and a comfortable and fun working space, and trust your employees, especially of the female variety, to set their instagrams on fire with photos of that “lovely reading corner”, “favourite coffee mug” in the office. Check out some of the great Indian offices that had their employees raving about them.
8. Make special ocassions special
It’s bad enough that an employee works on a festival or a special ocassion. But one way you can turn that slight inconvenience into a great brand building opportunity (other than delighting the employee, of course) is to go the extra mile and make it festive in the office. It could be simple things as office decor, distribution of sweets or more elaborate designs such as a themed activity or lunch like who else, Google.
A photo posted by that girl with that phone (@blahfamous) on
9. Encourage employees to use your product
Last, but most importantly, if you’re a product company, your employees absolutely *should* be using your products. Do you know how crazy it would look if Flipkart employees were shopping on Amazon or Apple employees used Microsoft? If the employees don’t love their company enough to use its products, who will?
And the first step towards that is a) Make the products discounted b) Give them as gifts. Trust Google to have got that right when they started distributing the flagship phone Nexus as Christmas gifts every year.
Sublime, gradual, and effective, these little things when done in combination will help you capture mind share like no paid marketing campaigns or sponsored PR articles can.