According to the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, an organization’s employees are the public’s most trusted source for information. The best organizations understand the value of their employees and inspire them to become brand ambassadors, so they, in turn, project a consistent image to the public that trusts them so much.

How can you create employees as brand ambassadors? While there is no perfect formula, these steps will help get you and your employees started down the right path.

1) Arm them with information.

Employees “in the know” are better than employees who work in a vacuum. Share the business goals and objectives of the organization. Alert them to competitive factors in the marketplace and describe what makes your organization different. Teach them about capabilities and the latest going on at the hospital in every department, beyond the individual employee’s often-siloed division. Explain what your brand stands for and how they can perform individually to help you deliver upon that brand promise.

2) Lead by example.

Those in positions of leadership carry an even greater responsibility in living the brand. If the organization’s leadership lives the brand, employees will be much more likely to embrace it. If leadership is not on board with the brand positioning, that will trickle throughout every level of your organization. Your leadership must recognize the importance of the brand and truly believe in what the organization stands for in order to set an example for their subordinates and create employees as brand ambassadors.

3) Tell them why.

It’s not enough just to tell employees to be brand ambassadors. You have to tell them why. Why does the brand matter to them? Why should they advocate the brand? Every employee in every department (not just marketing or PR) needs to understand how their role contributes to the success of the brand and, ultimately, the success of the organization. Employees shouldn’t feel obligated or required to align themselves with the brand, but rather they should want to live the brand.

4) Build trust.

Your employees must trust in the organization to pursue goals in line with the values of the organization if they are to become ambassadors for the brand. If you tell your employees to advocate certain aspects of your brand, but then do not deliver on those promises, you violate their trust. You are doing a major disservice to your employees by breaking the trust bond and once that happens, it will be an incredible challenge to gain it back.

5) Set (realistic) expectations.

You can’t expect every employee to get on a box with a megaphone and tell the world how great your organization is. You need to make clear the expectations you have for employees as ambassadors. If a patient has a complaint about the organization, arm your employees with the necessary tools to handle that situation. By the same respect, if an employee has a complaint towards the organization, show them the same courtesy you grant to patients. The last thing you want is a dissatisfied employee or patient using other outlets to have their complaints heard, such as social media.

In the end, an organization’s brand is one of its most valuable assets and your employees are on the front lines representing that brand. Employees can only advocate your brand if they know and understand what is expected from them personally to achieve the organization’s business strategy and desired brand position.

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