Human pyramid

Human pyramids: Why your brand needs a community (Part 2)

Workplace communities very clearly benefit everyone working on a project together.

But how does this directly benefit your brand?

In our last post in this series, we discussed the importance of the need to develop an engaging workplace community which transcends the usual formal hierarchies of the job. Using the example of Santander, we established that developing a workplace community allows an equilibrium to form between the formal demands of a project, and the human social demands of the people working on the project itself.

In this way, you’re able to bring the voice of employees into the fold, giving the whole group a stronger sense of shared purpose (which improves productivity exponentially). But how does an internal workplace community benefit a brand? And how can we project that sense of community further to consumers themselves?

The Santander brand

Let’s return to the example of Santander. We talked about the chief marketing officer of Santander, Keith Moor, and his account of how management and workforce ‘TeamTalk’ sessions have united the marketing departments of Santander nationally and internationally. Keith, however, also discusses how the values established in these communities fed into the Santander brand with its “Simple, personal, fair” ethos.

Keith discusses how one of the challenges Santander faced was adapting the values of the UK brand to the unique local characteristics and attitudes of the different national and regional markets the bank works within across Europe.

The way Keith worked towards this goal, he says, was by collaborating with his counterparts in the other Santander markets and engaging them in similar ‘TeamTalk’-style sessions. His counterparts then went and applied the same lessons to their own teams. Aside from uniting the organisation internally, as we’ve already discussed, Santander more importantly used community to strengthen the outward projection of the brand and truly localise it for each relevant market.

Local communities create localised brands

What can we take away from this?

Well, first of all, it gives us some important reminders to consider when projecting a certain brand to different markets and areas of operation. One size rarely fits all when it comes to branding, and it’s vital that you adapt your brand strategy in accordance with all the different groups that you’re targeting.

The way to do this is by remembering that every market exists within a wider community of people with their own set of distinct values, loyalties, and needs. This is true not only of national markets, but also those existing in different towns, counties and regions. Whether you’re adapting a national brand to fit smaller markets, or even if your project involves building an entirely new local brand, it’s important that it fits with the fabric of the community. It doesn’t just need to talk the same talk and walk the same walk; your brand needs to be a net contributor to the values and ethos of the surrounding community.

If you’ve built a strong internal workplace community, the job is already halfway done. Simply put, this is because the members of your team are also members of an external community. Any discussions about the guiding values of your company will naturally be influenced by this.

More than that, though, it’s about engaging with the community itself. One way of doing this is by creating and investing people and time in a community interest company, and incorporating it into the discussions guiding your operations. In this way, you are able to build the right kind of marketing plan that drives customers parallel, and in co-operation with, creating a truly localised and personal brand experience.

Photo by Jennifer Murawski