I always enjoy the stuff that Steve Yastrow says over at tompeters.com. He noted an article in the Wall Street Journal talking about how companies are focusing more of their marketing efforts on internal audiences. The WSJ article focuses on how advertising agencies are driving this change.
Getting employees to "Be the Brand" is critical for success, because every employee in a company has an effect on the customer's brand experience, even if it is an indirect effect.
Are ad agencies the ones leading this change? Should companies turn to their ad agencies for help with internal marketing? How will ad agencies address this challenge? Will it be the right way?
I have sat in those meetings where top management 'communicates' the new position, values statement etc. It was such a load of old tosh. Not one person walked out excited, enthused, or to be honest all that interested. It had no relevance to what they believed in or felt.
Where do the only workable brand values come from?
Not from what focus groups think they should be. Not from the outside at all.
Not from what the top management feels they should be. Brand values cannot be imposed.
They come from the inside. They come from the people who work for the company or brand. They know what they stand for and what their brand stands for. This is the place to start looking for brand values.
It isn't about big pitches, slick advertising, large roll-outs etc. If this is the first time your employees are aware of your 'new' values, you have likely failed already.
If you haven't read it, take a look at the interview with Sam Palmisano of IBM in Decembers Harvard Business Review - that is the way to create values that work. He set up a 'ValuesJam' site to discuss with employees what IBM meant to them. He got 50,000 comments in 3 days. Many critical, many positive. Through consultation these were distilled down. He then acted like the leader he is. He took action to make sure that the organisation came into line with these values. Yes, people's jobs were on the line! Including his own.
Finding values that work is not about hiring agencies, focus groups or any other such nonsense - it comes from the inside. And follow through comes from strong leadership.
PS. I would rather see an HR consultant hired than any ad agency - someone who could advise how best to integrate these values into the hiring process.