As Head of Marketing, Brand and Customer-Experience at TeamBank, Nicole Schulte is an expert in the field of brand and branding. We talked to her about what it takes to win over employees as permanent brand ambassadors and why even a sustainable company doesn’t have to plant trees to save the world…
Nicole Schulte, thank you very much for your time. In your opinion, what is an effective way to win over employees as brand ambassadors within the company?
The question is not so simple to answer in our case. Brand managers – as we call them – have been with TeamBank for many years. Every department in the company has a contact person* for brand issues who spends about 10% of their working time on this. The role is highly regarded, is a lot of fun, and can be a relevant building block in potential development. It is therefore often the case that there are more applicants than available “jobs”. So, as a rule, we don’t need to get someone excited when the position becomes available in one area.
What developments and trends do you currently see in branding?
The subject of Purpose is certainly on the rise right now. What does a brand stand for? What is its purpose in society? To put it bluntly, it is often associated with planting trees and saving the world. But I can’t do much with that; sustainability is a hygiene factor; everyone has to do their bit to make our planet worth living on – especially companies. But that doesn’t mean we need 10,000 brands that are positioned for sustainability. In any case, very few of them can really credibly embody this. For me, Purpose means knowing exactly what the rational top performances and the emotional benefits of a brand are and, more importantly, communicating them clearly to the customer or making them experienceable.
And what challenges do you see in this area today as opposed to 10 or 20 years ago, for example?
I’m going to go with the longer time frame here. I see the topics of multichannel marketing and personalization as the strongest. Twenty years ago, you certainly had to deal with far fewer formats and channels. Today, a brand has to work on 18/1 just as well as on 128x96px or in an influencer campaign. The customer approach is much more differentiated: Podcasts and radio are a medium in their own right, but function completely differently. And then, of course, in the creation it makes a significant difference once again whether one has chosen firm & fluffy or the location of the nation. To develop a clear and above all credible brand identity across this wide range of channels and granular target groups is, in my opinion, a great challenge.
In your opinion, what are the top 3 measures to win over employees for a brand in the long term?
The most important point for me is clearly appreciation or sense. An employee who is not rewarded for their work, and who can’ t see any sense in what they do, will find it very difficult to feel enthusiastic about a brand. After that comes a direct understanding for me. The brand identity influences many decisions in a company. It is important to understand the topic of branding and to internalize the value structure and the top performance of one’s own brand(s). The third point that I see is personal freedom of design. Taking responsibility for your task and making decisions independently helps enormously to create an emotional bond. In short: if you feel valuable in what you do; if you understand why you are doing something and can get involved in it, your heart is most likely in it.