Posts Tagged ‘brand’

The Intranet: An Essential (But Sometimes Overlooked) Component of Employee Engagement

May 4, 2015

Employees are not only the face of a company, they are the company. Employees can be trusted brand ambassadors, and it’s vital that a company’s employees are included in and given avenues to be involved in company communications. However… with so many competing priorities, active internal communication efforts often get pushed to the wayside, and they shouldn’t! Companies must remember that when employees love their job, it shows, and the ripple effect of that honest and organic company adoration can be greater than any pre-planned marketing campaign.

An Intranet is a great place to start! It’s a venue built to provide staff with news and upcoming events as well as allow for employee interaction. While a company Intranet can be an amazing employee engagement tool, unfortunately, many companies allow their Intranet to be an afterthought to external communication efforts. From the employee perspective, we all have experienced an ineffective Intranet. Not only does it not engage you, but it can also be a labor intensive, jargon-laden, top-down static-content filled monster. But when built and used correctly, a company Intranet can be an important venue for employee collaboration and communication.

Does your company need to take another look at its Intranet strategy? If so… keep reading, this post is for you!

Get started by listening to employees. It is important for companies to periodically do a “pulse check” with employees to help select and then effectively use the most appropriate communications channels– be it the Intranet, face-to-face meetings, newsletters, or social networks. Employers must pay attention to what works effectively within their own organization. As communicators, the phrases, “know what the audience wants” or “know where the audience is” are used when building any outreach strategy. The same questions apply for any Intranet manager, except in this case; the “audience” is the employee. In order for an Intranet to be successful, it is essential that companies understand the needs and wants of employees.

Then develop a team. Along the lines of being an afterthought, a pitfall for many companies is having only ne person in HR, Marketing or Communications manage the Intranet alone. Much like anything else in IMC, building an effective Intranet takes resources. The Intranet team should be comprised of a cross-section of employees from nearly every department. In fact, in 2014, the average intranet team size was 16 members!

Work on an Intranet is never truly finished, and too often, companies build an effective Intranet and then it dies due to lack of updated content and technology. Like with any social media channel, it is essential to continue to add and update content on a regular basis in order to keep people engaged. Companies can also engage employees in publishing content, which even further expands the Intranet team and helps to build employee ownership.

Incorporate new tools and think “CONTENT”. The goal of an Intranet is to make engagement and participation easy for employees. Some key Intranet tools include:

Creative Content: Follow the rules of external communications! Intranets should be filled with short and easy-to-read text along with multi-media videos and photos. Compelling content can include everything from training materials and resource links to bullet points, interactive company manifestos and storytelling. Homepages must be dynamic, engaging and ever changing. The Intranet should showcase information that is relevant to topics being discussed across the company, as well as tailored to the individual.

Blog 4 Pic 1

Personalization and Customization: Move beyond the dreaded list of employee photos and instead, allow employees to connect with one another, upload profile information and add interests and skills. Connective features that link the Intranet to social media networks like LinkedIn can make it easier for employees to participate.

Communications and Feedback: Allow readers to react to and interact with the content, either through feedback, comments or liking a page. Top Intranets, allow employees to provide feedback instantly via comments or like/rating systems. This can help companies learn what types of content are most important to their users as well as allow for employee engagement and ownership.

Quality Search: Ineffective search is one of the biggest criticisms users have of any poorly designed website or Intranet. Having a powerful, intelligent search allows employees to access what they are looking for quickly and efficiently.

Peer-to-Peer Recognition: With a peer-to-peer recognition tool, the ability to thank those who go the extra mile is put in the hands of colleagues rather than just supervisors. Small thanks can often be a stimulus to keep employees working hard. Allowing employees to thank one another also encourages interaction.

Reflect Company Culture: While the intranet is primarily a ‘tool’ for getting work done, it should also be used to express the company culture, mission and values. The Intranet can help everyone in the company understand the company brand and how they fit into it.

Then put it together and what have you got? A great Intranet!

Blog 4 Pic 2

If you are looking for inspiration, one fantastic example comes from National Geographic who, in 2014, was named the creator of one of the world’s 10 best Intranets. Their rebuilt Intranet allowed National Geographic’s 2,000 employees to interact with one another using real-time information exchanges and social collaboration tools.

The new National Geographic Intranet is highly visual, social and content-relevant. It has made employee collaboration easy and exciting. The new Intranet design opens information-sharing and content ownership to the entire user population at National Geographic. The site also effectively conveys the culture and history of the company through stunning photography and storytelling.

Since the redesign at National Geographic, about 70 percent of the staff uses the intranet at least twice a day to catch up on news or use resources such as the company directory. More than two thirds of the employees have updated their directory profiles and the venue has become a great tool for skill sharing within the organization and helping employees to connect.

Think of a new Intranet as “paying it forward” – it’s a worthwhile investment in the future of a company. It’s a tool that unites employees and opens information-sharing. Additionally, by allowing for employees to take ownership of content and personal profiles, employees will be more likely to visit and use the site more often as well has have a deeper investment in the organization, its mission and each other.

The Story Behind STORY

April 15, 2015

A Manhattan-based retailer is turning the page on brick-and-mortar expectations. STORY has a magazine POV, changes like a gallery, and sells things like a store. (It’s like a Pinterest board come to life.)

With its product as content, and its content changing completely monthly or bi-monthly as well as being for sale, STORY has embraced its retail media status. Past themes including Well Being, Design, Made in America, and Cool reflect how STORY has continued to reinvent its space and product stock while inspiring an audience. Experiential storytelling is the steady factor.

wellness-370x240

There’s always something new inside STORY.

Brands both new and established have sought to become part of STORY’s themes. From General Electric to celebrity-status YouTubers, STORY has the ability to extend its content and reach beyond typical niche retail markets by partnering with a new set of brands every few weeks.

How has media inspired other brick-and-mortar retailers and brought together unlikely brands?

-R

 

 

If Steve Jobs Made Apple Juice

January 26, 2015

Steve Jobs helped bring to life the Apple iPod, iPhone and iPad, but he didn’t make Apple juice.

iJuice isn’t out of the question—well, in theory at least. Designer Peddy Mergui released a series of packaging designs transforming packaging what-if’s into reality using famous brands’ design language. Among his designs was iMilk.

milk1

Got iMilk?

Whether you find Tiffany & Co. yogurt, Nike oranges, and Prada flour laughable or ingenious, they beg the question: Would consumers buy them?

Jobs is famous for defining design as how something works, not just how it looks or feels. I wonder what he would have thought about Mergui’s collection.

Not every brand extension works. Zippo perfume, Bic underwear, and Ben-Gay aspirin all come to mind. Of course, these extensions were inspired more by brand name than design.

Would you buy Apple juice?

-R

Let’s {Not} Talk About Branding

August 5, 2013

Everywhere you go branding seems to be a hot button issue.  “Pick us! We can help you create your brand!”

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 8.46.51 PM

So often branding, or your brand, is viewed as something we need to do or talk about.  As our beloved IMC 618 class and Marty Neumeier taught us, a brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what your customers say it is.  Yes, companies have some control over their brand however, it really boils down to how your customers view your product, service, or organization.  That being said, companies and organizations need to stop talking about branding, or a brand, as something you can completely manipulate and control.  Discussions around branding should stem from a great understanding of who you are as an organization and how you are viewed by your clients.  Your promise to them (who you say you are) should be the foundation for every major decision within your organization.

A few years ago, my organization went through what we lovingly refer to as our Branding Project.  We created a process, similar to the Brand Gap, in which we reevaluated who we were as an organization and how we were viewed by the students on our campus.  It was a very long process that we’re still developing today.  Yes, we did come out of the project with a shiny new logo, but that wasn’t the most important development.  We also came out of the project with a much deeper understanding of who we are, why that matters, and what we need to do in order to live up to the expectations of students on campus  Now, a company can’t be all things to all people and by staying true to your brand you may lose people.  That’s ok! Your remaining customers will become more invested and you will find new customers.  It’s important to think of branding as attempting to align your identity (internal) and your image (external).

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 8.47.53 PM

If a company aims to improve their brand image, and discussions on branding need to occur, those conversations should run the gamete of the entire organization, not focus solely on the marketing department.  Are your employees happy and do they treat customers with respect?  What kind of environment are customers stepping into when they walk into your business?  Is the facility clean and welcoming?  Do your customers understand the message you’re trying to convey?  Many times, companies measure the results of initiatives aimed to improve their brand image in a marketing scope.  Increased brand awareness is equated to increased website traffic, more engagement on social media, or an increase in sales.  Those are all great measurement tools however, companies and organizations must measure the content of the message as well as the effectiveness of the  marketing.  Organizations today should set separate branding and marketing goals.  Think about measuring the effectiveness of the content and the effectiveness of the content placement.

It is extremely important for your organization to take their brand image and identity into consideration every day.  However, a shift needs to occur from talking ABOUT branding, to talking from a branding perspective.  Incorporate how you want your customers to view you into every aspect of your organization and you’ll find greater success!

A Sea of Sameness

August 28, 2012

Do you feel this way when you buy a car…

Image

you pick out THE car.  It has all the latest and greatest features, has that brand new car smell, it has been washed so it shines bright.  Everyone will be looking at you driving down the road in your new, unique, awesome car, right?  You merge out of the lot into traffic, all happy, only to realize that every car you see is the same car you just bought.  You didn’t notice this before you bought the car but now your not so special, not so unique.  It’s a sea of sameness.

Image

Brands are no different.

Literally hundreds of studies have been conducted over the years to try and determine how many ads a person is exposed to in a single day.  One study I found from 1965 pegged it at around 1,900 and that was way before technology became so pervasive. Now, I cannot even imagine.  Another more recent study I read said 3,000, another 5000.  Not only is it hard for people to absorb all these messages, consumers now have the technology in their hands, literally, to turn these messages off.  I have a sad confession to make.  I don’t watch too many TV advertisements and I am in the business of advertising.  I am a time displaced TV watcher.  Outside of a live sporting event, 95% of my TV viewing is done using my DVR or Netflix.  Not unlike many people, an advertiser really has to work hard for me to see their brand, make it stand out above the crowd, communicate its value to me as a consumer and differentiate itself.  Another confession.  That doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention to products that are important  to me, like beer commercials.

Image

The main point I want to make here is that you have to find points of differentiation for your product or service that break through all this clutter and make you get noticed by consumers.  You then  need to stay focused on these messages and not get distracted by what others are saying.  If a company does nothing in terms of research, I recommend that they undertake two research projects:

  1. Segmentation Research.  This answers the question, Who is our Target Audience?  It is too expensive to target everyone so segmentation studies like MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer can help you identify the hand-raisers who are apt to want your product.
  2. Brand Perception and Awareness Research.  How many people in your target demo, how many are aware of you  and what do they think of you versus your competition?  If they are not aware of you, they will not consider you.

These two research projects help you do three things: Determine your true target audience, help you understand how many of these people are aware of your product and most importantly, help you create the key messaging points you want to communicate to this audience.  You can differentiate your message vs the competition and cut through the clutter.  You get away from the sea of sameness.