Brand advocacy is built on a personal connection with the business
Successful companies know that an effective brand puts you head and shoulders above the competition. And, there’s no better advocates for your brand than those who live and breathe it every day – your employees.
Employees who genuinely believe in what they’re doing can help to give your business a clear edge. They’re in the perfect position to communicate your values and the benefits of what you sell, whether that’s to customers, peers or new recruits.
We spoke to a business that’s been nurturing employees into brand advocates for longer than most.
Connect employees with each area of the business
The foundation for brand advocacy is education – employees need to know why your business exists and what sets it apart from everyone else. It’s something that kilt manufacturer and supplier Kinloch Anderson invests a lot of time in.
The family business, currently managed by the fifth and sixth generations, has a 150 year-old legacy of high-quality tailoring to uphold. Making sure new employees understand the tailoring process is essential.
“When staff first join the company, they spend some time in the different areas of the business to see how each area operates. It gives them a better understanding of how their role plays a part in the operation of the company as a whole,” CEO John Kinloch Anderson said.
“Staff then go back and visit areas that closely relate to their roles to get a better understanding of how they work. For example, the sales teams are always in contact with the machinists, so they can understand the manufacturing process explicitly. It gives them a personal connection with how the products are made and sold.”
John said that nothing is more important to the sales process or brand credibility than customer-facing teams having this understanding.
“When staff first join the company, they spend some time in the different areas of the business to see how each area operates. It gives them a better understanding of how their role plays a part in the operation of the company as a whole.”
John Kinloch Anderson, CEO, Kinloch Anderson
Recruit people that buy into your long-term vision
A one-off exercise or workshop can familiarise staff with the nuts and bolts of your brand, but it needs to be infused into your culture to create brand advocates.
John keeps the brand in mind from the recruitment stage. He looks for people who want to develop long-term careers in particular – customers know there’s decades of experience at the business and expect specialist knowledge.
“Customers have visited us for over 150 years for that personal connection. They’re looking for knowledge, guidance and personal attention to detail. When we’re hiring a new employee, there has to be an affinity with both the company and Scottish culture to work in this type of business and industry,” he said.
Hiring someone who embodies your brand in attitude, values and ethics is a good start, but it doesn’t necessarily make them a brand advocate. Leaders need to make sure employees not only buy into a company’s mission but are also motivated to see it succeed.
At Kinloch Anderson, John is proactive about reminding staff of the essential part they play in the business.
“Demonstrate to staff that the decisions and actions they take have a major influence on the company’s success. We’ll give staff the opportunity to suggest ideas for our designs and how we merchandise them in store and online. Then they get to see those suggestions become reality.
“It takes time to develop brand buy-in, but if you are in it for the long term then it pays to take the time. If you can get buy-in from the staff who are going to deliver your goal, then you’ll go a fair way to achieving it,” John explained.
business size: 10-49 People
business type: Retail & wholesale
Top three takeaways
An effective brand gives you an edge over competitors
Your employees need to know why your business exists – and why that matters – if they’re going to champion it
Factor your brand in everything you do, from customer service to recruitment