Here’s how poor employee relations hurts brand performance

by | Apr 25, 2018 | Analysis, Public Relations

Public relations professionals spend an incredible amount of time and money ensuring the company they represent has a perfectly crafted brand. Everything from visual identity to social media copy is carefully curated and scrutinized. However, one aspect is often overlooked—the employees.

The marketing communications team at Domino’s has worked hard over the past several years to reshape the company’s brand, and by most standards, they’ve done a good job. Rebranding efforts began by developing a new pizza recipe after complaints about its cardboard-like crust.

Since the Domino’s Pizza Turnaround campaign, the company has implemented several fun and creative ideas: the ability to order through a tweetthe autonomous pizza robotreindeer delivery, and the Tummy Translator. By implementing these customer-focused tactics, the Domino’s communications team has managed to shape a fun, quirky brand admired by both consumers and communication professionals.

Unfortunately, it seems some Domino’s employees missed an important rebranding memo

Several months ago, I ordered a Domino’s pizza for delivery (not the robot or reindeer delivery, just the normal kind). I followed along on the website’s pizza tracker but began to grow concerned when my pizza had been “on the way” for nearly 50 minutes. After three phone calls with a rather unfriendly store manager, my now cold pizza was unceremoniously delivered two hours later without so much as an apology. It’s safe to say my experience was neither fun nor quirky.

I am not the only person who has had a bad experience with Domino’s customer service. Unfortunately, this incident has altered my perception of the company’s brand, and I’m sure the same holds true for other disgruntled customers. Perhaps over time I’ll be willing to order from the chain again, but as for now, no funny tweet or autonomous pizza robot can erase the memory of cold pepperoni.

Employees need to be trained to represent a brand well

But company leadership often doesn’t spend enough time ensuring their team members understand customer service expectations. Patrons alter their perception of a brand based on interactions with employees. While a fun social media presence and an appealing visual identity are important, none of that matters if a company’s employees don’t complement its brand personality.

So what can PR practitioners do to ensure employees don’t have a negative impact on their company’s perfectly crafted brand?

1. Encourage managers to cultivate employee morale

Unhappy employees don’t represent their companies well, so it’s important front-line staff members enjoy their jobs. While employee satisfaction may be hard for public relations practitioners to propagate on their own, communicators can be crucial advocates for wellness programs and company culture initiatives.

2. View employees as a target public

PR professionals need to view employees as a key target audience. It is easy to spend most of the time and energy on communications with external publics, but it is unfair to expect employees to represent the brand in an appropriate manner if communication practitioners aren’t taking the time to educate them on the brand’s core components.

3. Use employees as a method of communication

Front-line employees can be another tool used to communicate a company’s brand identity to its target publics. Whimsical, playful brands should have customer service employees who act in a manner congruent with the brand personality. Employees should be an extension of a unified brand.

There are many facets of a good brand identity, and it’s important to ensure the best brand advocates—a company’s employees—are not forgotten.


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