by Alex Palmer | November 12, 2014
In today's changing workplace, where social media and "brand ambassadors" have placed workers at the center of an organization's message, it's more important than ever to see employees as extensions of a brand, according to a new report. The Incentive Marketing Association's Recognition Council tackles the connection between a brand and workplace culture in its new white paper, "The Intersection of Brand and Culture: Leveraging Engaged Employees as Brand Ambassadors."

Drawing on recent research and case studies from best-in-class companies, the paper's authors look at why organizations seeking to bolster their brand image may want to start by enhancing worker engagement. It also provides eight best practices for aligning a company's brand and culture. 

"A company's culture and a company's brand are really just two sides of the same coin," Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, is quoted as saying in the report. The authors state that, "Zappos is an undeniable example of culture fueling brand," with its entire brand identity intertwined with a strong embrace of workplace engagement.

Beyond loyalty, workplace culture impacts an organization's profitability and more, according to the report's authors. They point to a recent study from Gallup that connected employee engagement to nine specific business results, including profitability, productivity, and customer ratings.

"The study indicates that engaged employees rank high in performance while disengaged employees are more likely to have safety concerns, engage in theft, be absent, and/or produce lower quality work," state the authors. 

This is a growing issue in part due to the more social nature of technology today and the increased importance that internal recommendations have taken on in defining a brand's image. "Brand ambassadors" who speak about the positive aspects of a brand from their own personal experiences, are now a central part of a successful marketing effort.

"More of our clients are paying attention to the fact that a total recognition program, and not just a sales incentive or service anniversary program, is a key ingredient for success," said Cindy Mielke, vice president of marketing at Marketing Innovators and executive vice president of the Recognition Council, in the report. "It's critical to, first and foremost, communicate and then reward all employees to capture alignment with corporate goals."

The full report can be found here.