What is employee / brand engagement?

Interesting conversation happening in my organisation right now about the future of our engagement offer.

Our “heartland” is brand, and there is significant discomfort at the senior level about “leaving” this heartland. To the extent that there is a list of what we “do” and what we “don’t do.”

On the “don’t do” list is:
– HR
– Change management

This puzzles me. On the one hand, of course we don’t go out and “sell” HR or change management. On the other hand, let’s think about this by dissecting a statement.

(1) BRING (2) OUR (3) BRAND (4) TO LIFE.

(2) Bring = action. ie. Going from point A (behaviour not on brand) to point B (behaviour on brand). eg Change.

(3) Our = us. People – human beings.

(4) Brand = reputation, performance and customer experience. People, environments, marketing, products and services.

(5) To Life = Making it real. eg, people making change.

So. We don’t “do” change management – that is, managing the organisational and people transition from a state of “not living the brand” to “living the brand.” And we don’t “do” HR – that is, using basic approaches to ensuring the organisational development and people side of things is managed appropriately.

So if we don’t “do” HR and change management, what exactly do we “do”? Print posters and books, build websites, make logos and gasbag in front of conferences full of senior executives I guess. And call it “brand engagement”.

Responding to the current proposal if going to be fun as you can drive an 18 wheeler through the logical gaps…


4 thoughts on “What is employee / brand engagement?

  1. Tricky…and shortsighted. Sounds like you will have to do some guerrilla non-hr non-changement work hr/change work. It reminds me of Hugh McLeod’s cartoon of a guy with his head up his arse. Someone asks what are you doing? He said “I’m living the brand.”

    That’s what we have to be careful about – people running around living the brand with their heads you know where…


  2. I think you’ve hit the rather huge nail right on the head Kevin. Too much of brand engagement is, as you say, too focused on communication. Its more like “brand-washing”. The key for me IS to work on aligning the inner workings of the company to do with pay, bonuses, training, recruitment, working conditions etc. And if you aint doing this, you aint really doing brand engagament…you’re doing what a lot of this stuff used to be called: internal communication.

    You may remember my post on the way Pret a Manger deliver great service by getting the basics 110% right, as you commented on it!

  3. That was a great post re Pret a Manger. And I’m not intending to criticise my existing company too much here — we do great employee & stakeholder brand engagement work… but the problem seems to be losing focus on the holistic nature of the problem. Employee brand engagement by its very nature has to involve change methods and HR, as well as operational and process changes. Thanks for the comment.

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