It's About The People: The "Stakeholder Approach" to Building Better Brands

Business.com / Branding / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Understanding that an organization's own employees are one of the biggest untapped potentials towards its success.

Have you ever wondered how the big names made it big?

Apple (brand value: $145.3B), Google (brand value: $69.3B), Coca-Cola (brand value: $56B) are all multinational giants whose products and services span continents.

However, successful businesses are about more than just good products and services.

While I am a firm believer in the fact that good products sell, it’s the marketing pitch built around the product and the memorable experiences created by the brand that reels in consumers. If you refer to the 7 P’s of marketing, positioning is what I am talking about. A good positioning mix can really help deliver the kind of performance (financial and otherwise) you would expect from a well-built product.

Related Article: What Does Your Brand Say? How Branding Can Make Or Break Your Business

But that is not why we are here: we are here to talk about one of the most important P’s there is, which is "people." It is important to understand that good products and services are built by great people; people who are invested into the vision of the organization and are willing to carry it forward.

Sometimes when organizations grow, they tend to forget what got them there in the first place. When they see profits slipping, their people are held liable and bear the brunt for it. On the flipside, organizations who know that people are an important asset actively look to invest in them. They know that growing people reflects positively in the organization’s growth.  

Building Internal Stakeholders

When we talk about people, we are not just talking about general consumers. Any good organization spends millions of dollars on marketing its products and services to its target audience. We take care to build a 360-degree marketing approach trying to get through to our customers, but we tend to forget that one of the most important people – and those are your employees. Your employees are integral stakeholders that represent your brand even beyond work hours.

I am a strong advocate of building these internal stakeholders. Having conducted multiple employee satisfaction surveys in the past, I have witnessed employees who are emotionally invested into their products and services. They go especially out of the way to make sure that their brands look good in front of their target audience (on sales floors, at events and generally in public). This strong belief in their own brand leads to positive word of mouth and purchase. Similarly, if you make a conscious effort to build your business to help generate positivity that is what it will do.

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Managing Internal Stakeholders

What does it take to build an internal audience that is emotionally invested into your brand? Here are a few key takeaways that I feel may help you as an organization on your journey from being good to great:     

Don’t Fall in Love With Your Own Brands:

See them as human, with their flaws and imperfections. Make your employees understand that everything has its logical scope and is prone to flaws. This does not represent failure but the constant struggle for improvement. ‘An example would probably be Nokia; they failed to see the consumer shift and lost out on their success story’      

Communicate a Vision to All Corners of the Organization:

Life is a journey and your employees will spend most of their day on the job than with their families. It is a decision that is not based purely on financial reasons. Respect their choice and back it up by taking them on the same journey you want to be on. ‘If your employees don’t know why you exist, they will leave and even if they don’t there are chances they won’t work as hard.’  

Build an Atmosphere of Honesty and Back It Up:

Be honest with your employees, trust them enough to give them insight into what the brand hopes to accomplish in the years to come. Ask them for their commitment in terms of their best output and help them on their journey with corrective actions and rewards. ‘If your employees are under the impression that you are cheating them or lying to them; they will be very vocal about it at forums inside and outside of the organization. Nothing makes you lose  face more than a disgruntled employee on a rampage’   

Give People Opportunities to Represent You:

A great opportunity for people to grow in confidence is to have them represent you on both internal and external forums. Build custodians who can actively engage audiences across events, they will be your best ambassadors and will showcase your products and services beautifully – helping build more stakeholders inside and outside of the organization. ‘I have seen Unilever give their employees multiple opportunities to engage with consumers (at research forms, HR events, trade shows etc) this is a two-way street: it’s not only the employees representing your brand, but it’s also the consumers making them more aware. Remember:  consumer empathy = insight + intuition.

From Good to Great:

When you have a good product, people will buy it. But when you have a good product, coupled with enthusiastic and emphatic stakeholders, you have a formula to success. Your people are the greatest ambassadors of your brand; they carry it everywhere with them as a symbol of their trust and pride.

Related Article: Trust the Process: 10 Tips To Empower And Encourage Your Staff

We live in the ‘consumer-o-cracy;’ where talkability is the biggest social currency. To remain relevant, you need to be invested in people. Whether it’s your own employees or millions of your consumers, it’s all down to one basic principle, which is, ‘People Matter”.

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