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How your brand can boost performance
If you’re a growing business, how can you get the most out of your brand? IIP practitioner Lance Cross shares how one small business put its people at its heart and saw the difference.
Your people’s understanding of your brand can have a profound impact on your business. It can drive behaviours and attitudes that lead to improved performance, and impact on every interaction they have with your customers and clients. In fact, your people are potentially your strongest advocates, conveying what’s great about you to thousands of individuals every day.
Understanding the importance of brand
Most businesses understand the importance of their brand. They know that the image it presents to the marketplace and the dreams it sells to its target market are fundamental to its success.
An environmental compliance service provider, growing business Ecosurety (formerly known as Budget Pack) knew getting its brand right was vital. They brought in branding consultants to develop a new corporate brand for the organisation.
"It's a hugely exciting change," said Managing Director, James Potten. "Becoming Ecosurety helps us tell everyone precisely who we are and all that we can do. And why have we done this? Because, since our launch in 2003, we have changed a great deal. We are a dramatically different business today, with services that build on our roots in waste compliance and take us into other areas too."
“It's a great fit with our ethos and approach”, added Ecosurety Chairman, Steve Clark. “We also work in partnership with our members and help them embrace sustainability on their own terms. It’s essential to our business values.”
The branding consultants discussed the precise meaning of these business values with the whole workforce. Informed by these discussions, Ecosurety developed three headline brand values:
Protect; Inspire; Perform
They then explored and agreed, with the whole team, the specific implications of each of these brand values – for sales, marketing and customer service - and defined a number of ‘truths’ about the way the organisation does business.
Branding for performance
But it didn’t stop there. Ecosurety wanted to look at its perception, image and behaviours internally, as well as externally. “If we’re to make promises to our customers and make them stick in a meaningful way, why wouldn’t we do the same for our own team as well?” said James. “That’s why we saw Investors in People as a natural part of our brand strategy.”
The brand development became a way of ensuring everyone at Ecosurety understood what high performance would look like, giving them all a vision of how they could achieve success within the organisation.
As well as the usual consultation sessions with senior management, initial diagnostic and report, briefings at management meetings and presentations at team meetings, Ecosurety asked me, as its Investors in People Practitioner, to provide something extra.
It was easy to see how serious Ecosurety was about the business benefits of being the best employer they could be. “I can genuinely say I look forward to coming into work every day,” said one employee, a sentiment that was echoed across the organisation, showing a deep sense of openness and trust. There was also an enormous amount of excellent management practice.
However, there were gaps. Previously, the company values and business plan had been created in a ‘semi-inclusive’ way. Learning and development was not planned and evaluated against specific business priorities, and manager capabilities were not effectively analysed and built into the performance management system.
The management team, supported by HR manager, Jackie Smith, developed and implemented solutions to address the last two issues. They then took the extra step to make the values central to the way everyone worked together.
Working together, we ran a workshop for the whole team. Using the core values (protect, inspire, perform) as the starting point, three mixed discussion groups “satellited” three discussion points:
- In our own words what do we believe is important as a place to work? How can we define our ethos in terms of a shared commitment to the team?
- What specific commitments should we make to our colleagues and our manager? What do we have a right to expect from each other?
- How can managers support our team values in the way they manage? What specific commitments should managers make to the people that work in their teams?
Belief in the team
The teams’ responses were used to develop a one-page document that became known as Our Belief In Our Team. James, the Managing Director, signed this document, it was published and the content was integrated within people policy from recruitment and performance management, to management training.
“It was a fantastic event,” says Jackie Smith. “Even if the document listed things we were already doing, the passion with which everyone got involved was amazing. And since then, nobody has had a problem with pointing out to their colleagues if their behaviour has contravened the published beliefs.”
Since Our Belief In Our Team was issued, Ecosurety has made great strides. End of year results exceeded expectations, customer feedback on the rebranding was excellent, staff retention was well above average, and growth plans were ahead of forecast.
Your people's passion pays dividends
The business payback on all this work goes further still. Ecosurety’s workforce believes in, and feels part of, what the organisation is aiming to achieve, not just because of their positive effect on the planet, but because of the way they care about whether the business succeeds or fails.
The passion of the team has communicated itself to the customers. Satisfaction levels are very high and rising. New business referrals from existing customers are up. Without the need for too much in the way of artificial incentives, everyone in the team, whether they are customer-facing or not, acts as an evangelist everywhere they go.
In the words of Ecosurety employees, “we are the business”.