At Design Dash, we celebrate entrepreneurs planning to expand their businesses beyond their original scope while honoring their mission and core values. However, we are not blind to the complex, time-consuming nature of scaling a business. Every expansion comes with its own unique set of challenges. You might call them “growing pains.” Whether opening a new studio, courting a new target market or offering a new service, keeping everyone in sync and on-brand is hard. As the business changes, there can be disconnects between team leaders and employees. There can also be inconsistencies in communication between employees and clients, vendors or partners. The latter can be disastrous for brand consistency and customer satisfaction. Learn how to improve on-brand communication between employees and clients while growing your business below.
How to Improve On-Brand Communication Between Employees and Clients
Your team is the face of your brand and the core of your company. Client to employee communications are a vital part of brand building and a company’s overall brand positioning strategy. As such, it is incredibly important to ensure employees reflect that brand when interacting with current, past and prospective clients.
There are many ways to make these interactions more reflective of your brand’s personality and more consistent with your company’s vision. However, effectively communicating your brand to clients doesn’t start with an employee responding to an email or meeting with a customer.
It starts with how, when and whether leaders provide adequate support and education to their team members. This is key to improving on-brand communications and fostering brand loyalty amongst both employees and clients.
To do this, team leaders can be more transparent about the company’s trajectory while brand strategists draft and disseminate readable reference guides. They can also encourage employees to ask questions, provide feedback and weigh-in on upcoming changes to the brand.
Follow below for more ways to improve on-brand communication between employees and clients.
Make Sure Your Mission Statement Reflects Company Culture and Core Values
We begin our list of ways to improve on-brand communication between employees and clients with a fresh look at your company’s basic tenets. In a recent post, we underscored the importance of writing a mission statement that informs, inspires and correctly outlines your company’s core values. A mission statement that clearly describes your company’s impact can help attract and retain workers in a tough job market where competition is fierce.
But a mission statement that does not accurately reflect the company’s culture, core values and intended purpose can leave team members in the lurch. This is especially common in the wake of a rebrand or refresh.
Make sure that your entire team is on board with your mission. They should be able to say it backwards and forwards at the drop of a hat. This is so important because your team is comprised of your biggest advocates, and they are a reflection of your firm’s purpose.
Melissa Grove, LUDC Chief Operating Officer
If you recently updated your company’s mission statement during a rebrand or brand refresh, be sure to explain the changes to employees. Without their buy-in, understanding and support, it will be that much more difficult to maintain consistency as the business continues to evolve.
Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Katarina Berg underscore this in their article “Fostering a Culture of Belonging in the Hybrid Workplace” for Harvard Business Review. They write that “psychological research has consistently shown that when employees feel that they belong…they tend to perform better.” When employees have a sense of belonging, they relate to the company’s message, embody its mission and accurately relay both to clients.
Be Transparent About Goals, Challenges and Upcoming Projects
Next, it’s important to be transparent about your company’s goals, challenges and upcoming projects. Employees who are kept in the dark will have trouble exercising effective brand communication when interfacing with clients. Lack of transparency could also lower morale in the workplace and limit productivity.
Referencing 2018 survey data in an article for Trade Press Services, Gerri Knilans explains. Knilans notes that “50% of employees say that a lack of transparency holds their company back.” Similar research shows that improving internal communication could make a huge difference in how engaged your company’s employees are at work. Knilans writes that “85% of employees [are] most motivated when management offers regular updates on company news.”
When employees are apprised of upcoming changes in the company or to the brand at large, they feel more connected. This can encourage employees to adopt the company’s goals and achievements as their own — turning them into effective brand representatives. That’s great for on-brand employee-client communication and your bottom line. According to Knilans, businesses with “highly effective internal communications had 47% higher total returns to stakeholders.”
Reinforce Company Values and Vision by Sending Branded Newsletters to Remote and In-Office Employees
One way to keep all employees informed and on-brand is to send branded newsletters internally. These newsletters should celebrate recent projects, reinforce company values and highlight your hopes for the future. They can also credit certain employee contributions.
In an article for Betterworks, Casey Pechan notes that these “consistent internal communications keep your mission, vision, and values front and center.” They also provide clear visual and linguistic examples of your brand personality. Plus, internal communications like newsletters help tie a hybrid team together.
Make Explicit Brand Guidelines Easy to Read and Available to All
Providing an all-in-one brand guide is perhaps the easiest and most thorough way to describe your brand’s tone, values, vision and aesthetic to employees. This set of standards describes your brand strategy and defines your core message. It explains when to use specific brand assets, how to communicate the company’s mission and which words to leave out when speaking with clients.
Of course, an exhaustive brand guide that includes every template, typeface, email signature and logo variation can be incredibly long. Lengthy brand guidelines are not always easy — or expedient — to reference. This is why we recommend designing a one-page reference sheet — kind of like a tear sheet — when creating your brand guide.
Include a brief overview of key visual and linguistic elements — like fonts, color palettes, keywords and taglines. In “11 Ways To Ensure Employees Represent Their Brand’s Messaging” for Forbes, Vestorly’s Joel Goobich suggests a “bullet list of the company’s value proposition.” Add a short description of the brand’s tone of voice too.
Disseminating a clear brand style guide to all independent contractors and employees is absolutely key to implementing a successful brand strategy. Your brand guidelines will help employees set the right tone with clients from their first meeting. As long as you faithfully update guidelines with each material change to the brand, they should serve as a valuable touchpoint for team members.
Head over to our post “How to Build a Brand Guide that Enables Growth” for additional tips and tricks.
Survey Employees Regularly
Keep your finger on the pulse by surveying employees regularly. Surveying employees will help you identify disconnects between team members and the company’s mission, values and/or trajectory. It will help you address issues before those disconnects bleed into employee-client communications.
In an article for Business News Daily, Skye Schooley recommends “conducting lengthy employee surveys annually.” Intersperse these annual surveys with “short pulse surveys conducted more frequently.”
Ramp up the frequency of employee surveys in the lead-up or aftermath of a rebrand, expansion or other form of growth. Company culture surveys, employee engagement surveys and employee satisfaction surveys can all provide valuable information.
After onboarding new employees, Schooley suggests giving a training survey. This survey should measure a new employee’s understanding of your company’s mission, culture and brand identity.
Ensure All Internal Communications Reflect Your Company’s Branding as Much as External Communications Do
This next tip might be an obvious one, but it is still worth mentioning. Ensure all internal documentation — from invoice headers and email signatures to Slack color themes and in-office memos — reflects your company’s branding.
When internal communications resemble external communications, they subtly reinforce your brand’s aesthetic and linguistic style. This should naturally translate to communications between employees and clients.
Make Sure Managers and Team Leaders Practice What They Preach
Talk about the brand in the way you want your employees to mirror when interfacing with clients. Put simply, “practice what you preach.” Embody the company’s values in daily interactions with team members.
In her post “Internal Branding: Run a Successful Internal Branding Campaign” for the Desk Alerts blog, Caroline Duncan explains why this is important. Duncan writes that by reflecting the brand in their interactions with other team members, team leaders keep “employees familiar with the brand identity.” This also helps “ensure that the brand is authentic – not just something you put on ‘for show’ for the outside world.”
Consult Employees When Weighing Changes to the Brand
In our post “How to Build a Brand Guide that Enables Growth,” we underscored the importance of informing employees of upcoming changes. However, it is also important to consult those employees when weighing such changes.
As noted above, your team is the face of your brand and the core of your company. Your team might perceive the impact of upcoming changes differently than the company’s leadership does. Consider their feelings and insights to ensure a smooth transition and ongoing support for your brand.
Allow Employees to Personalize Client Communications
As this Career Guide from Indeed explains, “customers want to have a personal relationship with the organizations they do business with.” As such, it’s important to give each employee a bit of wiggle room to infuse customer communications with their own unique personality. This will prevent employee-client communications from sounding robotic.
Most clients want “real conversations, [so] don’t offer scripted responses” when addressing problems, answering questions or otherwise managing their projects. Plus, you hired each client-facing team member for their skills, their experience and their individual perspective.
Allow employees to lean on their strengths and showcase their personalities when communicating with clients. By showing clients personalized attention, businesses help clients feel more engaged, connected and valued. In turn, this can boost customer loyalty and increase trust. It can also improve brand messaging amongst your target audience when clients talk about the service they received.
But Standardize Certain Communications and Commit to a Level of Consistency Across Channels
Encouraging employees to create meaningful connections with clients is important, but not always expedient or particularly on-brand. Thankfully, there is room for standardization in some written communications that don’t require the personal touch other emails, meetings and calls do.
By standardizing certain communications, you create opportunities for visual and verbal branding. For example, think of the questionnaire you give every new client or the out-of-office memos clients receive when emailing their project manager.
According to this resource from Grammarly Business “as many as 95% of customers use [3+] channels in just one interaction with a brand.” As such, be sure to provide guidance about how to communicate with clients from one platform to the next. This will ensure all communications share a level of consistency that accurately represents the brand.
Eager to Discuss Your Company’s Internal Brand Communication Strategy?
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