Why Brand Engagement Is A Personal Business

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It sounds so easy. Happy employees make for a healthy and profitable brand. So why doesn’t every company make brand engagement a priority? Two reasons:

(1) Theorizing about brand engagement is much easier than actually putting the ideas into practice.

(2) People are weird. Just ask Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com. The NY Times reports that if you would like to work for Zappos.com, be prepared to answer this question:

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how weird are you?”

Creating a successful culture in any work environment begins at the interviewing process, and, unfortunately, this is where brands often go wrong. For many people, the most dismaying facet of modern times is the blurring of social lines. There was a day when news was separate from entertainment, your phone was separate from your television, and peoples’ personal lives were separate from their professional lives. Those days are gone.[more]

Today, interviewers want to know more than if you are simply qualified for the job. They want to know if you fit in with company values and if you’d be comfortable having drinks with fellow employees and their significant others. Like it or not, the era of brand engagement is upon us.

Tony Hsieh explains the approach Zappos.com takes when selecting employees for senior positions:

“It’s not just a single day with them and you make a decision. We’ll invite them to barbecues on weekends and they bring their families, and just hang out, or go to dinner or happy hour or whatever. It’s more just about trying to get a sense of who they are outside the office, I guess, and whether you feel like you can actually get to know them on a personal level or if they’re very professional and standoffish.”

Of course, some may argue that one’s personal life is none of their employer’s business. We live in a free country, and people should feel free to behave as they wish and not be pressured by executives into thinking or acting according to corporate values outside of the office. Today’s brand manager, however, would happily respond to such criticism: Those employees should exercise their freedom and work somewhere else.

Somewhere they fit in.

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