A corporate brand can only succeed when it is supported by the people behind it. Oftentimes, startups rely on the charisma of their respective founders and entrepreneurs to drive the power of their brands forward, but once a company hits stable grounding, the relative charisma of the CEO takes a backseat to the general state of the brand (with some rare exceptions). At that point, most marketers shift their focus to communicating to their target audience with a singular, unified, corporate brand voice unaccompanied by any individual personality.
There’s one major problem with this approach: people don’t trust brands. People trust people, and given the choice between listening to a branded message and one from a personal acquaintance, they’ll listen to the acquaintance almost every time. In the modern worlds, brands are seen as progenitors of deceit. They are seen as faceless, corporate tools designed solely to sell to consumers, and consumers are therefore skeptical of branded messaging. You’ll still find success in adhering to a consistent brand message and leaving your brand at the center of your marketing and advertising campaigns, but you’ll be missing out on a lot of potential.
What’s the answer? You need to rely on that peer-to-peer trust evident in human connections while still maintaining the image of your brand. To do that, you’ll need your employees to step up and increase the power of your brand through their own personalities.
Your first strategy is a simple one, especially if you already have a strong content marketing strategy in place. By the time your company hits a stable growth stage, content should be a no-brainer—you should be producing regular articles and materials weekly, with syndication on your brand’s social media pages. However, the organic reach of your syndicated content on social media is not what it used to be, and it’s getting smaller. Plus, people are far less likely to click on an article shared by a corporate brand than one shared by someone they happen to know.
This step is easy. Simply send out a memo (or regular reminders) that encourage your employees to share any materials posted on your brand’s social media pages on their own individual accounts. For example, when a new landmark article gets published on your company’s Facebook feed, ask your employees to share that article on their own Facebook accounts. Even if only a handful of people follow your instructions, you’ll greatly increase the visibility and reach of the article, and you’ll end up with more interested potential fans as well.
Your next step will require more ongoing work from your marketing department. Start by fleshing out a “team” page, or some other section of your website that shows off the individual personalities that make up your company. Include a headshot and bio of each one, and encourage your staff members to write their own descriptions. Doing so will infuse your site with more personality, and will make your brand seem more trustworthy.
Once that’s done, your job is to follow up that approach on your social media channels as often as possible. Take pictures of your employees hard at work, having fun on break, or engaging with each other in team events. When a potential customer checks out your social feeds, they should get a glimpse of what your team looks like and how they interact on a regular basis; it adds a personal touch to your brand, and gives a face to an otherwise corporate shell. You can also pass off control of your social media accounts to various employees on a rotating basis; doing so injects new personality and diversity into your brand.
Personal branding is one of the best marketing-by-proxy strategies out there. Essentially, the individual members of your team will work to improve their own reputation and authority in the industry through content, networking, and social media. For example, your lead engineer might start his own blog and engage in outside interviews, slowly building an independent audience. This is mutually beneficial; the employee becomes more recognized and more valuable in the industry, and the company’s brand becomes more authoritative and trustworthy as a result.
One or two personal brands are sometimes enough for the boost in authority, but if you can get your entire team working on this, the benefits will be enormous. You’ll even get more links to your company’s website and more SEO authority, ranking you higher for online searches.
Finally, encourage all of your employees to network as often as possible. List upcoming networking events in the break room, and offer compensation for any networking events that require payment for admission. You can even hold your own networking events in the office after-hours. The more your employees mingle with other professionals in your area, the greater your company’s reputation and visibility will grow—you might even get a few direct leads out of the deal.
Over time, with these strategies in place, your employees will serve as brand ambassadors and enhance the collective power of your brand. This is a way of creating a tight network of interpersonal connections that lead back to your brand, and let your audience know that at the heart of your company is a team of real people.