How to Strengthen Your Brand When You Have a Distributed Workforce
Globally, 18 percent of people work remotely. And then the coronavirus pandemic swept the world in 2020 and companies that had never considered allowing remote work suddenly had to figure it out. Allowing employees to work remote can be a great perk, but it also comes with an enormous risk to your company: inconsistent branding.
At Design Positive, we’ve been a distributed workforce for more than 10 years — taking advantage of the many benefits of remote work and lower carbon footprint. And so, when the work-from-home era started taking over, we were ready to take on the challenges associated with a team that’s located throughout the nation.
However, when suddenly moving your team to a distributed workforce, it can create an inconsistent brand experience for your customers and prospects. Don’t let that be the case. Protect your brand and image with a few key steps.
Educate employees and enforce your brand style guide
If you only distribute your style guide to your marketing team, that’s a huge mistake. Your brand guidelines need to be on the computer of every employee in an easy-to-reference location. The simpler you make it to follow your brand guidelines, the more likely your team is to be compliant.
And within those brand guidelines, you should cover your company’s voice and tone. Because so much communication with customers is digital when your workforce is distributed, email, texting and instant messaging communication should mirror your company’s voice and tone guidelines.
A new way to engage remote workers is through online training manuals. Look for an option with easy search functionality so your team can reference the documentation easily and quickly. Trainual is tool that helps businesses engage with their teams and inform of policies and other important information.
Host digital workshops and branding review sessions to make sure your employees understand the guidelines and their importance. Ensure that part of your new employee onboarding process includes a section on your brand guidelines and proper usage.
Finally, you need a review process for all new marketing material and branded content that your team distributes. Create a checklist for sign-offs to ensure no new materials are disseminated before adequate review takes place and create repercussions for those who avoid this process.
Set expectations for at-home work areas
Without discipline, at-home work areas can be filled with distractions, interruptions and an unprofessional atmosphere. Communicate to your staff these important at-home work area expectations:
- Before starting a video conference or slide share presentation, check your internet connection, monitor your open applications for pesky notifications and ensure all windows and doors are closed inside the room you are presenting from.
- If you have children at home, secure adequate childcare or collaborate with other household members to care for the child to ensure a quiet presentation atmosphere. Set expectations with your children about how during working hours, it’s their schoolwork/play time and they should not interrupt you.
- Dress the part if you’ll be on camera. Tell your employees what you expect for the dress code for remote presentations. Along with setting standards for professional dress for video meetings, make sure to give guidelines on a non-distracting back drop for your video conference.
- Consider carefully your state of mind before responding to emails. Email is a great customer service opportunity, but if you aren’t focused on that email it can come off short, terse or like that customer is an annoyance to you. Sometimes, it’s better to wait to respond until the following day instead of responding during dinnertime, the final hours of the workday when you’re burnt out or taking part in other after-work activities.
Connect your team digitally
With a distributed team, you’ll need to find ways to keep that team connected and in close communication throughout the workday. Your employees’ relationships with one another still matter even when they aren’t interacting face-to-face. Make sure you’re fostering these connections.
One way to do that is through project management software. There are plenty of options out there and some even have specific features based on your industry. With software, you can ensure that project dependencies are met, and your team is getting the necessary brand approvals before moving forward with a project.
A great way to onboard new staff and remind existing staff of the importance of your brand guidelines is to host a lunch and learn. You can share resources for getting brand approvals and answer questions relate to your company’s brand identity.
Additionally, some companies find success with virtual happy hours. Invite coworkers to interact about things other than work during your digital happy hours. Other companies hosted virtual yoga sessions, book clubs and coffee breaks during the work-from-home period associated with the coronavirus. Get creative and find ways to ensure your employees still feel connected to your company and one another.
Protect employee creativity/block distractions
Encourage your employees to protect their creativity by blocking out distractions throughout the workday. One way to do that is to wear headphones to tune out any household noises. Allowing your creative teams to drill down into problems and have the space they need to solely focus on what they’re doing.
Email is a primary distraction for most office workers. Encourage your team to set aside a half hour in the morning, half hour in the afternoon and half hour at the end of the day to respond to emails. At all other times of the day, silence notifications or close your email program entirely.
Creatives that are easily distracted might also consider deleting social media apps from their phones. You can access all social media platforms from your mobile browser, but you’ll have to work at it to start the mindless scroll, which means you’re less likely to get distracted during the workday. And unless social media is a primary job function, don’t open an social media on your work computer.
Additionally, you should encourage your staff to stay up to date on leading industry trends and information. Offer helpful industry experts and websites to follow for your staff to stay up to date and use this information to create outstanding creative materials. One of the perks of working from home is having a bit more free time instead of commuting. Help your employees use that time to its full advantage.
Create Branded Zoom Meeting Backgrounds
With so many meetings taking place over Zoom, you can reinforce your brand by creating a branded background. Here are some design ideas for your Zoom Meeting backgrounds.
- Fill background with primary brand color and place logo in a corner.
- Use an office shot that has your logo in a corner area or add your logo into the photo.
- Create a “red carpet” backdrop that has your logo, and a tagline or sub-brand logo, in repeat pattern. Double check your brand guidelines to see if this option is covered.
- Or use online services that will allow you to choose the background you want and place your logo onto it. Make sure you have your logo in a transparent PNG format.
- Ask your art department to come up with options that include branding elements to make your background unique and memorable.
Before finalizing your background, read up on Zoom Meeting background file formats.
Maintain company culture
Your company culture affects your brand because it affects how your employees interact with your customers. Ensure that your employees have an easy way of reaching your leadership team with questions to foster their understanding of the company culture and build trust.
If you can’t maintain a certain image internally, you will struggle to then take that brand image externally. An open and honest two-way communication with your employees can help build a positive culture.
If you can, offer your employees stress management resources and encouragement, even at a distance. And when negative things happen in your company or even in your industry, remind your employees of your stress management resources and reinforce your company culture messaging.
Protect your company’s brand whether you have an in-office staff, an entirely remote team or some combination of the two. We know firsthand the importance of strengthening your brand while working remotely since the Design Positive team has a distributed team for more than a decade. Sharing tips like these and helping companies protect their brand is our passion. Contact us if your brand guidelines need help.