In an article from June 29, 2013 on onmilwaukee.com Steve Jagler looks at one of the biggest influences in shaping brands.
In the digital era, corporate brands can rise or fall in a heartbeat. However, one branding maxim seems to be holding true: Corporate brands start internally, and the ways employees are treated often have consequences in shaping that brand externally.
Case in point: The discount retail industry. Seattle-based Costco Wholesale Corp. pays its employees an average wage of $20.89 per hour and provides health care insurance benefits to 85 percent of its staff, according to a recent analysis by Bloomberg Businessweek. Costco employees pay premiums that amount to less than 10 percent of the costs for their health plans.
By contrast, Costco’s key competitor, Little Rock, Ark.-based Walmart Stores Inc.’s Sam’s Club, pays its U.S. employees an average of $12.67 per hour, and its employees have been picketing their stores, complaining about the “Walmart loophole,” in which the company reportedly plans to cut many of its employees’ hours to less than 30 per week to avoid having to pay a penalty under terms of Obamacare.
So, which model is winning? Well, Walmart remains the world’s largest retailer, in terms of sales, to be sure. But Costco is gaining market share and is easily building a better corporate brand from the inside out. Costco’s most recent quarterly sales grew 8 percent from the same period a year ago, while Walmart’s sales increased only 1.2 percent. Costco’s annual sales grew from $64.4 billion in 2007 to $99.1 billion in 2012, and the company plans to open 30 new stores in fiscal 2013.
“Fact: Your employees need to be your biggest and most influential brand ambassadors. If they don’t understand, believe in, live and deliver on your brand expectations, your brand will never reach its full potential,” Seroka said. “The process by which employees are informed and trained on how to deliver brand expectations at all touch points is called internal brand adoption. It is a process by which expectations are set and performance is measured along the way. If this step is overlooked, not well thought out or not executed properly, your brand will be not much more than words without substance.”
Read the full article here