Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, shares a compelling TEDTalk about Martin Luther King Jr. He explains that instead of going around telling people what needed to change in America, Dr. King told them simply what he believed. “He gave the ‘I have a dream’ speech, not the ‘I have a plan’ speech,” Sinek says.

As a result, Dr. King captured the attention of millions of Americans, inspiring them to take up his cause and make it their own. They did this not because he was a powerful orator, but because they recognized themselves in what he was saying. What he believed about his country with great passion, they did too.

The same principle can be applied to making employees feel connected to your company’s brand. When engaging your people, it starts not with WHAT we do or HOW we do it, but WHY it is we do what we do.

Engaged Employees Become Brand Ambassadors

Your company’s brand is always on display, but it’s much more meaningful than what your logo looks like. It’s your purpose, your values and your promise to customers. It is the WHY. It is what separates you from the competition, attracts people to your company and helps guide vital business decisions.

It’s imperative that employees buy in to your brand, because they have a vital role in turning it into reality. They are your brand ambassadors. When they are aligned with your brand, it gives them a sense of pride and a reason to believe in your company. It allows them to see how they fit into the big picture, such as how delivering the brand promise impacts the bottom line.

Once your employees understand and embrace the brand, amazing things can happen. They begin to promote your company to their personal network (which can boost recruiting efforts). They begin to focus on customer needs. They start to realize what type of action does and doesn’t fit the brand, and that helps them make smart, strategic decisions based on what is best for the company.

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A deeper understanding of the brand also creates a sense of ownership. When employees see how their behavior can impact the entire company, it’s empowering and in turn, their engagement reflects on how they deal with customers. After all, you want every customer interaction to be a positive experience with your brand.

Taking Up the Cause

Without a doubt, people are the most important resource to an organization. But as a business owner, how do you inspire your employees to take up your cause and make it their own?

Start high level. Make sure everyone in the company understands the vision, believes the vision and embraces the vision. When Gallup conducted a poll of 3,000 random workers and asked them if they agreed with the statement: “I know what my company stands for and what makes our brand different from the competitors,” only 41 per cent strongly agreed. This shows that far too many people are unaware of their company’s brand. Leaders must work on educating their team and becoming a living, breathing brand ambassador so that others can learn from their example.

Tie their personal brand to the company brand. Successful companies help employees to understand their personal brands by identifying their strengths and what makes them an asset to the company. Go a step further by aligning both brands together and showing employees how they can apply their exceptional talents to activating the company’s goals. Each individual needs to believe they can deliver on the brand promise in a way that’s truly authentic to them.

While many companies recognize the value of a good brand, many overlook the role that employees play in bringing that brand to life. By capitalizing on the passion of the people within your organization, it is possible to build a brand-centric culture – and in turn, create and promote a strong company brand.