We have all heard the saying “it takes a village to raise a child,” and I believe the same is true to raise a remarkable brand. Think about the huge influence over your brand reputation that your internal employees and customers can have. You should think of your employees and customers as part of your brand’s community, family or peer group.

Think of your employees and customers as part of your brand’s community, family or peer group.

Much like we try to shelter our children from people that can have a bad influence on them by saying things like, “I don’t like you hanging out with that crowd. They are going to give you a bad reputation!”, the same type of negative influence can come from your very own employees and customers for that matter. They can be part of the good crowd or part of the bad crowd. They have a huge effect on the reputation of your brand.

We need to make sure that our employees are all part of the good crowd that our brand hangs out with, for this is the group that we have the most control over. They need to understand, embrace and embody the essence and core values behind your brand and company. We need to guide our employees, set limits, project our view of what’s right and wrong in the world of our brand(s), and hold them accountable.

We need to make sure that our employees are all part of the good crowd that our brand hangs out with, for this is the group that we have the most control over.

From the customer perspective and their influence, we are all well aware of how great or not so great, word of mouth can be.

In today’s world of social media, people’s opinions and comments can spread like wildfire! Not unlike how our children are faced with their peers spreading rumors, brands also must deal with people’s opinions, rumors and gossip. Rumors and gossip are always floating around. That’s totally normal. After all, everyone gossips. It’s part of how we communicate and stay connected with other people’s lives or with the brands that affect our lives.

Think about all the things we try to preach to our children when they are growing up. “Honey, not everyone is going to like you and that’s okay.”

Not everyone is going to love your brand either, no matter how great you think it is! If you’re trying to target everyone, you will probably find yourself reaching no one. I hear businesses claiming that their product or service is for everybody all the time. In their own words, “Everybody needs this.”

As stated by Seth Godin, “A product for everybody is a product for nobody”.

In order to achieve that special connection with customers, your brand has to have a unique appeal. It has to be something that people want to be a part of, something that can give them a sense of both identity and belonging. It is in our nature to want to be part of a community of people with similar interests. A culture is created around successful brands based on the personality of a small, niche group.

In order to achieve that special connection with customers, your brand has to have a unique appeal and be something people want to be a part of – a sense of community and belonging.

If you need more research or back up on the importance of customer and employee engagement:

According to a Customer Engagement Gallup, Inc. report*, “The world’s leading organizations know that engaging their customers is a primary driver of key business success. Gallup’s cross-industry research shows that fully engaged customers buy more, stay with you longer, and are more profitable than average customers. It is also not surprising to know that these organizations have placed customer engagement at the foundation of their strategy for winning in the marketplace. They understand a simple fact: organizations that engage their customers outperform those that do not.”

Companies with admired corporate cultures and engaged employees have performed 600% times better3 on the TSX based on 2010 winners, 3 year compound annual growth rates (according to Culture Connection by M. Parker).

Culture Connection lists the following as 10 elements to great company culture:

  1. Core values
  2. Celebrations
  3. Community
  4. Communication
  5. Caring
  6. Commitment to learning
  7. Consistency
  8. Connection
  9. Chronicles.

So be different! Stand out!

Surround your brand with people who believe in what you stand for and are willing to embrace and share that vision with the world. Target and engage with customers who will become cult followers, advocates and committed fans that spread positive messages about your brand and recruit on your behalf, more followers.

* Copyright © 2009 Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved. Gallup®, CE11®, Q12®, Performance OptimizationTM, The Gallup Path®, Gallup Poll®,Gallup University®, Gallup Consulting®, and Gallup Press® are trademarks of Gallup, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

 

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