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Why CMOs should also be judged on employee engagement

We won’t realise the full value brands can create until HR and marketing teams collaborate more closely.

By Damian Symons

Clear's Hidden Value of Brands research shows that when it comes to motivating a workforce, the personality of the brand people work for is more important than the working environment, opportunities for career progression and remuneration.

Brands are powerful devices in giving people identity and allowing them to signal to the rest of the world who they are.

And this is true at all levels of an organisation.

As expected, 91% of higher management agreed with the statement ‘I like working for my brand because it has similar personality traits to me’.1 But a striking 67% of semi and unskilled manual workers said the same.2

Despite this, the link between a brand and employee engagement is all too often underestimated and overlooked.

A brand’s ability to create a more meaningful connection with its customers is widely acknowledged. But too many companies fail to recognise the internal marketing potential of their brand, wasting this hidden value.

And frustratingly, this feels inevitable. CMOs are rarely judged on employee engagement with their brand. And when brand work is undertaken, HR departments are almost never involved.

The costs of disengagement

Failure to capitalise on the power of brands to inspire and motivate employees is a costly mistake.

Absenteeism costs the UK economy £13.4bn per year, according to one estimate.3 Engaged employees are significantly less likely to be absent from work than unengaged employees.4

Engaged employees are also significantly less likely to leave an organisation.5 And because they are happier, they are more productive and more creative in their problem solving too.6

So how can brand owners best unlock their brands’ hidden, internal value?

How to unlock a brand’s hidden value

The answer lies in three key principles: leveraging the brand’s purpose; distilling its personality; and effectively operationalising it. Each is critical. However not all are given equal emphasis.

A common mistake is to prioritise brand purpose over brand personality.

Purpose is important. 75% of employees agree that the business they work for should make a contribution to broader society and that it should be considered as a measure of success.7

But the risk is that for internal objectives we obsess about purpose often at the expense of personality. And neglect personality and you’re in danger of creating lofty, detached brands that lack authenticity.

And inauthentic brands can’t hope to inspire and engage the very people that work for them.

We need to continue to leverage brand purpose but also elevate brand personality. We need to see closer collaboration between marketing and HR to make this happen. And together, they must create and effectively implement joint strategies built on both.

In this way, internal brand activation will motivate employees to turn up, to be more productive and to be more creative. And ultimately, will deliver clear ROI.


1, 2, 7. Clear hidden value of brands survey 2015

3. CBI estimates of cost of absenteeism

4. DDI engagements database of 200 organisations

5. 2004 Corporate Leadership Council

6. Journal of personality and social psychology

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