Brandspeak: For Brand-First Behavior, Leverage Your Leaders


Brandspeak Joe Pantigoso


The following guest post is by SAP senior director Joe Pantigoso.

To become a brand-led organization, consider using your leadership in a new way to inspire brand-first thinking. You’re probably already using your senior executives in internal communications—like in company-wide emails, town halls and corporate portals. But have you ever thought about using them in your employee brand education too?  Having them play a role in the actual teaching of the importance of consistent brand building? Here are some ways to consider embedding executives in your online brand training. You’ll find that they can be an effective way to inspire employees to build your brand and your business.

Personal Glimpses

Brands make emotional connections with people. We all have brands we love. For me it’s Tide. For some reason, whenever I’m going into an important meeting, food or drink makes its way onto my shirt minutes before. And my Tide stick bails me out, eliminating noticeable stains and saving me from embarrassment. Everyone has a favorite brand and story that explains why. So why not have your executives share their favorite brand on film and include it in your brand training.  We did and the feedback we’ve received consistently mentions how engaging this was: “Great idea to bring executive leaders in,”  “personal glimpse of each of them was extremely powerful.” Not only did these leaders’ brand stories underscore the importance of brand and highlight the power of brands to emotionally engage audiences, but it provided a peek into the personalities and lives of our senior leaders as well.

Testimonials/Case Studies

Case studies (sharing a problem, solution and successful result) and testimonials (stories that validate a topic) are valued by people dealing with similar challenges. Having senior leaders share in brand training, for example, how they’ve seen the brand impact purchase consideration can make a compelling case for others to value and to use the brand, too. When employees hear and see executives tell how brand inconsistency can cause customer confusion, colleagues can start to consider how they might be contributing to this and consider ways of changing.  When senior leaders speak, people take note—not only because they’re in charge, but because their insights can provide value to folks eager to learn from successful people, too.

United Leadership

Including senior leadership from across lines of business (e.g., finance, operations, HR) in your brand training can serve two purposes. First, it shows solidarity and support for building one consistent brand throughout the company, communicating that building the brand is everybody’s job, not just marketing’s. And second, it can be moving to see the company’s leaders united. People enjoy being part of something bigger than themselves, like being part of a team, a community, a family. And uniting all your senior leaders visibly in your brand training can elicit a similar feeling.

Leaders inspire emotion, and incorporating them into your employee brand training can generate the desire to use the guidance, assets and tools available to help build one consistent brand. As one colleague’s feedback reveals: “I just took the brand training, and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how each of the board members tell us what their favorite brand is. It’s one of the best and most relevant trainings I’ve ever taken.”

When people “feel,” they’re more likely to “do.” Imagine a united workforce of brand-building colleagues consistently doing just that—consistently building your brand and business.

Joe Pantigoso is a Senior Director in Global Branding at SAP, a leading enterprise software company and top globally-ranked brand. Follow him on Instagram and read more of his columns here

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