by Roy Saunderson | August 12, 2013
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How do you brand your recognition and reward programs? Getting the idea, value and meaning of what recognition and rewards are to your people is not easy. Somehow you must create a concept by which everyone recognizes and identifies with the recognition and rewards imagery, messaging and service offerings of all your programs. What does it take to keep recognition and rewards top of mind? We’ve put together a Top 10 list for you to successfully brand your recognition and rewards programs.
1. Define Your Recognition and Rewards
While their universal and dictionary definitions are available, branding your recognition and rewards requires simple articulation of exactly what they will mean for your organization. Semantics gets in the way and can cause trouble. What does each term mean to your people? How will you use recognition and rewards and for what purpose? Define with care.

2.  Brand Recognition to Fit Your Business Strategy
It’s important for a program to have a name, look and feel - yes. But it’s more important for the brand to be aligned with your business strategy and strategic directives. Recognition should be presented as a way of life and your rewards as a powerful tool to be used well. People must know how recognition and rewards will help generate business. 

3. Let Culture Drive Recognition and Rewards
Branding should draw upon the vision and purpose of an organization as well as its values and beliefs. When leaders and employees live the defined values they are naturally engaged and behaviors spontaneously happen that demonstrate meaningful acknowledgment of everyone’s contributions. Tap into your company’s culture to make recognition happen.

4.  Create a Clear and Simple Message
There are too many cutesy names for recognition and reward programs that get repeated across companies and providers. Focus, instead, on looking at the end result you want your programs to help make happen in your company. Collaborate on the grand “why,” and allow this thinking to inspire the right way of using the programs as well as the potential naming.

5. Listen From Within
What do recognition and rewards mean to employees and how do they feel they should look? Perceptions are real and can either cloud the intended purpose or steer the ship on course. Be very transparent with employees on your goals and solicit their candid responses to guide the shape and design of the recognition and rewards brand.

6.  Generate the Desired Emotions
Since recognition elicits an emotional response and rewards spark a behavioral trigger, we must enhance these positive feelings further with online and offline delivery of recognition and rewards. Use video, music, color and messaging to produce the kind of effect that will be felt and not just transacted. Create useful resources to help people create the right emotions.

7.  Branding is an Ongoing Process
Because recognition and reward branding are often associated with a website, logo and name, we often allow these tactics to become the end goal. However, great branding is an evolving process to represent recognition and rewards in the best possible light. This requires measurement, pulse checks and feedback to know how to improve.

8. Develop the Best Solution
Always be thinking what problem you are trying to solve for your organization with recognition and rewards. Do people confuse recognition with rewards? Is there a lack of knowledge on how to use programs? Are people uncomfortable with some aspect? Knowing the issues present provides focus to the branding feel to be achieved and designing solid solutions.

9.  Think About the Reputation You Want
Create a recognition experience around the branding of your recognition and reward practices and programs. Make actual programs powerful and positive destinations. For principles and practices to be lived, ensure a few simple approaches that produce the desired results. This is about the good name and power of recognition and rewards.

10. Engage Everyone In Recognition and Rewards
Effective branding of your recognition and rewards strategy requires total commitment from everyone from the C-suite on down. Leadership involvement is critical, so incorporate their voices into the messaging and needed actions. Front-line leaders and peer-to-peer stories of exemplary practices will be the game changers that make things work.