When it comes to branding, it is not enough just to have a vision, a tagline and a logo. A “must-have” in any successful brand initiative are employees who buy into your brand. People who are living your brand promises every day.

But that is easier said than done. So how do you successfully gain brand engagement with your entire staff? According to one credit union it all starts with brand training.

“One of our key strategic measures is employee engagement,” says Urjit Patel, senior vice president for Smart Financial Credit Union. “At Smart Financial we feel that our employees are the brand.”

During a recent rebrand, the credit union held a one-day brand camp. At this event—conducted on a traditional “banking” holiday—all employees gathered together to learn about their new brand. On that special day various employees (executives and “brand ambassadors” from multiple departments) shared many aspects of the new brand.

But the brand camp was just the beginning. It’s what happened after that day that helped reinforce the brand launch.

Smart Financial recently had all their employees—not just the front-line—go through a customized brand training session, where they learned how to live the brand every day in their individual jobs.

“Whenever you execute large enterprise wide change, it’s critically important to make sure all staff are properly indoctrinated to help you achieve your short and long-term strategic goals,” Patel said. “We truly want all employees at Smart Financial to have a personal connection to our brand thereby creating brand ambassadors in the process.”

One creative technique Smart Financial did as part of their brand training was to have all the employees sign their name to a brand board. This step got the employees up during the session and had them physically show their commitment by signing a branded board.

Smart FCU

Smart FCU

“Gaining commitment to sign the boards helps show how we are all on the team to make sure our brand and vision is executed seamlessly all the time,” added Patel. “Accountability to have the right people in the right positions living our vision and brand is vital for our future growth.”

According to Patel, there was real power in having employees actually sign their commitment to live the brand. “Every employee has submitted their personal goals to live the brand. We have captured this information and talk about it at the branch, department and executive team meetings.”

But the boards are not just a one-time training exercise. They are actually a tool to use moving forward. “At quarterly all staff meetings we display our signed brand commitment boards and share successes in how our people are living it daily,” Patel says. All new hires will go through the brand training and “we will display the brand boards to show all parties how we have gained commitment towards our brand from all staff.”

Smart Financial is already seeing success with employee engagement from the brand training. “We are seeing different business lines within the organization already talking daily about our new vision and communicating across company departments to help each other succeed,” Patel said. “We are capturing member interaction success stories from frontline and back office department employees to help show how everyone can make a difference. We are taking new initiatives in how we reach out to the public to grow our market presence through our brand.”

Patel is absolutely correct: great brands are built with engaged employees. And getting your employees engaged starts with brand training.

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