Brandspeak: Want 100K Colleagues to Think Brand First?


Joe Pantigoso SAP brandspeak

The following guest post is by SAP senior director Joe Pantigoso

How do you get brand-first thinking and behavior on the radar of colleagues across a company? Getting the attention of folks who don’t necessarily see brand as their job since they’re not in marketing roles. Here are some lessons learned from experience helping colleagues build our brand.

1) Content is King

Winning employee’s engagement begins with well thought out and crafted content. We’ve found that the secret to success here is focusing on making content easy for your audience. Easy to understand. Easy to access. Easy to adopt. Sadly, designing content with the audience in mind – colleagues who are time-pressed and inundated with work and outreach – doesn’t happen as often as it should. It’s understandable given content creators are usually passionate about their topic and want to share more than they need to, or want to, in order to keep their audience’s attention.

Making content easy to enjoy is often a missed opportunity too. For example, we use video with peers for emotional engagement. The target audience is, after all, human and appreciates a fellow human face and a smile. In fact, colleagues have given us that feedback. Using executives can also be inspiring. We were fortunate to have our executive board members, for instance, agree to be filmed for our brand training.

2) Not all communications channels are equal

Often there’s a lot of time and effort put in getting brand content out in traditional internal communications and educational channels.  We’ve found that newsletters and corporate portals, however, are not as effective as direct emails to colleagues and as well as live mentions in team meetings. Views to a brand video, for example, soared after an executive mentioned it in an all hands session.  And emails from an individual, not a corporate mailbox, created similar impact. In effect, we’ve experienced that the closer you get to your audience, both physically (their email box) and emotionally (a live personal appeal), the more response you’ll get.  Unfortunately, you also may find that these channels are the most difficult to gain access to.  Here’s where leadership support and executive sponsorship makes the difference.

3) Timing matters

Often internal roll-outs of brand-building initiatives which require employee participation have a big bang launch that results in strong initial up tick. Deadlines, no surprise, also drive participation.  But time of year also makes a difference, especially the end of the year. We found that December, specifically, with its wrap up mindset and behavior, was a good time for getting folks to complete brand training.  Fueled with year-end momentum, a thousand folks participated every day until the holiday break. When you have limited time and resources, focusing on these key milestones, instead of trying to keep a constant drive and outreach, can be effective.

Creating seamless, compelling and distinctive brand experiences is critical to building customer delight and advocacy. Getting tens of thousands of your colleagues, all the folks creating those brand experiences in your organization, to think brand first can help you get there.


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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