With all the buzz about personal branding, I’m often asked, why would a company care about an employee’s personal brand?
Every industry along with the companies within that industry have acronyms that they use exclusively. J.L.P. is one acronym used by well known international retail giant. It stands for “just like picture”. And, now copycat retailers try to customize that acronym with one of their own, LLP (“looks like picture”). “Just like picture” means that they want a merchandising display to look “just like the picture” that was sent from their corporate or regional headquarters. No variances, nothing adjusted to the locale, nothing different will be accepted – they want it “just like picture”.
Yet, what do you do when the “picture” was built for a store in a large metropolitan area where people utilize public transportation readily and there’s a store virtually on every corner and your store resides in a rural population, where there is no public transit and it’s 200 miles between cities? Does “just like picture” work or does this cookie cutter system make the company feel aloof, corporate and not local?
Every conference I go to I see slides and handouts stating – think global but act local.
I read blogs and Twitter tweets saying when a company gets big they need to remember to act small. It’s about engagement and interaction; conversation not interruption.
I hear people in communities share stories about “their store”, “their city”, “their company” because their desire is really to have ownership in organizations (and stores they shop) and feel a valued part of them.
More organizations are putting social media into their 2010 plan and I see this as a good thing. It is forcing companies to delve into a thought that personal brand strategists have known all along – people do business with people. While the company sets the tone and the culture, the person who is working directly with your customer “is the company” to them.
This week’s #brandchat conversation on Twitter discussed whether people “tweeting for a company under a company’s Twitter account are seen as corporate drones”. Unanimously, BRANDidos (a term of endearment for those who chat on brandchat) shared that a company IS its people.
Can you imagine if Ford listened to “horse and buggy experts”? Would they have unveiled a Twittering car at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) this week? Would they be so well known for their corporate social media connections?
Why do employees need to manage their personal brand?
Because they already have one and if a company provides the tools for them they can effectively deliver on the corporate brand promise through strengths that are uniquely theirs with an authentic sincerity and genuineness that is just… priceless. If a company doesn’t provide the tools for employees to understand, harness the power of and manage their personal brand, they are truly throwing their customer experience out to the wind or they are making it so “JLP” that it thwarts relationships and the personal connections that customers seek.
Does helping create a personal brand encourage an employee to leave?
This is an age old question tied to “what if I train my employees and they leave?” And, here the answer comes in the form of a question – “Which is worse? The trained employee who MIGHT leave or the untrained employee who stays and represents your company, controls your assets and affects your bottom-line?”
Employees come with their reputation and their circle of influence and that is currency in our hyper-connected society. Relationships have even more value in today’s world of business as there are more opportunities and more choices competing for your customers money. When a relationship become cold and ceases to no longer be mutually beneficial, somebody leaves – we see this in friendships, in marriages and in businesses.
Business is built on relationships and relationships require people.