I recently wrapped up a five-month pro-bono project with a team organized by AIGA Seattle. We were one of seven groups contributing our design and marketing talents to a local non-profit. My team partnered with Powerful Voices, an organization that works with middle- and high school girls of color.

We helped refine their brand elements and created a brand book that would align with the organization’s new strategic direction. At the final presentation of our project, the client thanked our five-person team for the hours of work and creativity that would have otherwise cost them tens of thousands of dollars.

Having been teamed up with a group of talented and energetic designers, research specialists, and project managers, I took on the task of teasing out and documenting the verbal aspects of the Powerful Voices brand. This started with interviews to understand the experiences of staff and board members.

It’s at this point that I was struck by the remarkable consistency with which each person we spoke to described the organization. The words they used were their own, but the message was the same. A teammate and I interviewed people separately, and when we compared notes, we were impressed by how the story being told painted such a cohesive picture.

This is an organization whose leadership had told us they were suffering an “identity crisis.” And indeed they’re not widely known in Seattle, although they have a good reputation among similar non-profits and their own stakeholders. But as part of strategic planning, they’d involved employees and board members in defining and communicating their brand.

My team’s focus was documenting the visual and verbal elements of the Powerful Voices brand so they could continue communicating with one voice. But their foundational work was already being done. Every employee and board member understands what the brand is, where it’s going, and equally important, what it’s not.

Many organizations believe the work of branding happens in the marketing department and is about logos, ads, and the much-too-ubiquitous swag. But the way to turbocharge a brand is by immersing employees and other stakeholders the messaging so they can communicate about the brand in their everyday interactions—on the job or off.

When you’re thinking about how to give your brand maximum visibility, be sure to include employees in the equation. Not only can they be the best ambassadors; the more clearly they understand what your organization is all about, the more likely they are to advocate for it.

Would you like to discuss ways to get employees involved in your branding? Give me a call!

Copyright 2018, Liz Behlke