Understandably, brands that are powerful have a direct effect on clients.
Most clients will want to follow a brand if it is powerful enough to make the customer ‘feel good about themselves’, and if portrait itself as being reliable.
The more the reliability feeling is, the more patrons will believe in that brand, and the more the brand name will be strong.
The more the brand name will be strong, the more the clientele will ‘bless’ the brand with their repeated business.
A very virtuous circle.
Now, the question is:
The best branded companies see a great number of customers emotionally attached to them.
So much so that they often are their best ambassadors, their best sales managers:
Sales are made in huge numbers thanks to those dedicated clients who see those brands as part of themselves, as part of their lives and frequently even of their daily routine.
Very often, they cannot even start imagining themselves shifting brand (even if the latter is technically superior to the former in any way possible), and they are pushing their friends and families to join them in their brand selection.
The world’s best example is certainly Apple that developed a neurological connectivity with its customers, like no other brand ever did:
Apple developed branding as a new form of art that goes well beyond fidelity; it is almost religious and whatever Apple does and comes out with, they are seen by their followers as they cannot be wrong.
For four years now, Samsung made fun of Apple’ fan base, airing funny videos that are demonstrating that their smartphone devices are far superior to Apple’s, but these demonstrations are voluntarily ignored by this dedicated Apple clientele.
Samsung is right: it is a fact that every new iPhone is technologically at least a generation or two behind its main competitors (Android’s Samsung Galaxy and Windows Mobile’s Microsoft Lumia), but not one of Apple followers is missing to get their newest gadget when the time comes!
If a brand can be that powerful on a consumer, can it have the same effect on its employees?
Let’s be realistic, your employees’ main concerns are their wages and working conditions.
As the Pyramid of Maslow teaches, you cannot even imagine branding your company if you do not properly address those two conditions.
The least you can say, Apple’s employees are not members of the company’s cult-like relationship they succeeded in developing with their clientele, be it at their research centers, or shops – not mentioning their factories in China!
Then, where did Apple go wrong?
Apple is first and foremost a marketing company that sells technology gadgets.
Apple’s strategy targets exclusively its clientele – what do they want, what packaging do they want, how to talk to them (remember the slogan ‘Thing Different’? The best motto ever – the same that inspired years later Nike’s ‘Just Do It’), etc.
In the pursue to developing a level of customers’ loyalty never seen before – and never seen since -, they forgot their workforce.
Behind its very modern marketing mask, Apple is managed the old fashion way with a very traditional internal / hierarchical organization, where employees are just that: a workforce.
This is a mistake that Google did not make.
In fact, they did the exact opposite:
The company was built around their employees, their branding is first and foremost aimed at their employees – their first customers are their workforce.
Google goes even further:
They do not measure employees’ satisfaction like it became a routine for any lambda company to do (with very mixed real follow up other than cosmetic), but they are measuring people happiness (pay attention to the wording used: they are not talking about employees, but about people, meaning that before being a worker, you are a person and they recognize you as such).
We all know that if we want our business to succeed, we need to please our customers – provide them the product(s) they are willing to buy at the price you are asking because it reaches a level of quality they want.
In other words, you acknowledge that to succeed you need to hear and listen to your clients. And only if you do so and are able to address their expectation will they patron your business and will you earn their loyalty.
Now, why would your employees patron (which means in this case ‘support’) your company if your pay them low salaries, provide them low to average working conditions, ignore them as people?
Why should they treat your company better than your company treats them?
Why should they back your marketing speeches to your customers if they don’t believe it to be true?
Obviously, Google learned from the Pyramid of Maslow: they are providing their employees their basic needs at an unprecedented level and in return they are one of the most innovative companies in the world – if not the most -, not by forcing employees, but by encouraging empowerment.
Thanks to its innovative approach, in 2016 Google became the world’s most valuable publicly traded company.
They must do something right.
As mentioned before, they are treating their workforce as their first clientele, knowing very well that – unless your workers are exclusively robots – employees are people and they want to be treated as such 24 hours a day.
The external / internal customer principle is nothing new and has been around for a long time already.
Nevertheless, because most companies managements have a short term ‘end of the month / bottom line’ vision, they cannot grasp the concept that to develop a business for the long term you need a long-term vision and today’s loss (when part of that vision) is tomorrow’s profit.
To succeed with your workforce instead of the traditional despite of them, you need to turn your primary marketing efforts towards them.
Of course, you will need to implement your branding (or why not develop a specific one?), corporate messages, etc. to communicate with them, the same way you would to your customers.
In fact, you must first sell your company to your employees; you must ensure that the product(s) you’re selling are something they would buy should they could.
If they don’t believe in your firm and your product(s) how well do you think they can represent you and make sale?
If they think that they would never buy your product(s) because they honestly believe your competitor’s offers a better deal than you, how well are they promoting them?
That’s the reason why your first clients are your workforce.
Makes sense, don’t you think?
By doing so, you introduce a new concept to ensure your company’s long term success:
The same way Apple’s customers are proud to show around their iPhones and iPads, because of the brand’s great communication strategy that make them feel so good about themselves, if you develop a powerful branding / marketing approach aimed at your employees – as long as you covered before their basic needs -, and that you are ensuring that your marketing is not all talks (you know, beautiful and deep company’s values on posters and banners that never translate into real life non-cosmetic actions), then you will follow Google’s steps to success.
It’s a long and hard road where you will need to reconsider your management style and people’s approach more often than you’d like.
But, as Google demonstrates, it is a highly profitable path!
Do you have what it takes to becoming the next Google?
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