Brent Closs—AVP Marketing, CAA Club Group
The insurance industry faces a mutual challenge—retaining great talent and recruiting new talent. So what can a brokerage do to stand out?
It begins with your brand. Not only the one customers perceive, but your internal brand. Many organizations don’t have the two aligned. If the core of your brand is being involved in the community, do you recruit locally or encourage your team to get involved in local events and causes? If you say and do one thing externally but say and do something else internally, not only are you sending mixed messages but the people representing your brand will feel the disconnect between the brand they see and the organization they work for.
Mike Leon, President of Brand Heroes explains: “This siloed situation is usually a result of different parts of the organization defining your brand. Marketers are often associated with building and protecting the external brand, where People and Culture departments focus on the internal brand.”
He suggests answering a few questions with both an external and internal perspective.
- What do we value and believe in most?
- What makes us special?
- What are we really here to do (it shouldn’t be to sell insurance)?
“Great people who love your organization’s mission will become more engaged in what you’re doing and deliver on your brand’s promise, because they feel part of it.”
This moves from a ‘Me’ brand to a ‘We’ brand. Many brokerages are built on the personality and beliefs of the founder or owner/principal—the brand is owned and communicated through its leadership. Everybody else operates on their perception of your brand and what they’ve been able to infer about it through reputation and marketing efforts—or, as I mentioned, the leader’s personality traits. That’s a Me brand—very common in organizations built from the ground up. But at some point, many organizations find themselves faced with a transition, because in today’s complex marketplace, successful brands depend on all aspects of the organization. That’s a We brand, and it can be very powerful.
Leon shares: “Look at what your customers and employees value most, then tie it back to the founder’s unique approach. When all your teams are aligned on your brand values, that’s where the magic happens. You’ll find retention and recruiting efforts become more manageable because employees see how their work’s adding value to your organization’s brand.”
Ensuring your internal brand is aligned with your external brand isn’t always easy to operationalize. Many of your employees will already be there—your brand is the reason they came to work for you. But some employees may not align with your brand values. They may be excellent at their job, but there’s a disconnect between their beliefs and those of your brokerage. In these cases, it’s important to ask why.
“If you’ve articulated your brand throughout the organization, why does this person not align with your values? Perhaps they’ve missed something your brokerage offers staff. Perhaps you’ve missed something in clearly communicating your values. Asking the question can be a great learning opportunity and help you determine if change is needed to improve staff retention.”
By taking the time to ensure your internal and external brands are aligned and everyone understands them, you’ll begin to see employee retention improve. And you’ll see the employees most aligned with your values stay for the long haul.
If you’re the owner or principal of your organization, sit down with a few team members and ask: “If our organization was a person, how would you describe them?” Do they describe the brand of your organization, or are they describing you? That may be the first and most important step in knowing if you have a Me or a We brand.