In today’s digital world, having a compliance program in place that protects your company from unethical behavior and detects misconduct is simply a must. But instead of treating such a program as a necessary evil, smart companies are leveraging them as valued brand assets.
Indeed, the way customers engage with brands has changed due to the use of social media, smartphones, and the need to be constantly connected. We now view brands as “social actors” and base our opinions on how they portray themselves online. According to a study by Reputation Institute, 60 percent of interest to potentially buy, endorse, work for, or invest in an organization is motivated by perceptions of the company, and only 40 percent by perceptions of their products or services. This means your company brand can significantly impact both performance and market presence.
But where does compliance fit in?
Ethics and compliance are actually interrelated. Think of them as a wheel. Your culture and compliance processes are the spokes and your compliance data is the hub. They work together to create a more ethical workplace and drive better performance.
Compliance can help a company show that it is trustworthy and reputable. From an employee perspective, such a company is appealing to work for. Improved credibility and strong brand behavior also leads to competitive edge. But to make a difference, companies must properly market their ethics and compliance programs, as well as empower employees to be brand ambassadors.
Consider these three tips when using compliance to improve your company brand:
1. Establish a consistent brand internally: You need to work from the inside-out—it’s important that employees fully understand the brand’s core values and what the company stands for before you try to communicate that message to the outside world. According to a GlobeScan study, 58 percent of employees believe there is a disconnect between what the company says about its values and how it actually behaves. You should promote the key principles of your company’s compliance program and emphasize how it sustains customer trust. You have to demonstrate the importance of compliance and how it actually affects your brand value.
An easy way to do this is by mapping out customer impact. Show employees how you will use compliance to gain, assist, and retain customers. Illustrating the direct correlation between compliance and your end goal will help make your message and connections clear. Also, be sure to repeat your main message and values so you reinforce exactly what you want to communicate to consumers. As with most initiatives, don’t treat this as a once-and-done exercise. Employees are going to have to hear this message multiple times and through multiple outlets before fully understanding how it fits into their day-to-day roles within the company.
2. Engage employees in the content and brand: Because your employees help represent and promote your brand, it’s crucial that they connect with the brand in addition to having a strong understanding of its values. To do this, consider using interactive platforms to get your message across. This will allow employees to directly engage with the material—use character-driven scenarios, games, or other multimedia resources. This lets you offer compliance policies and training in a fun and interesting way. You should also integrate personalized messaging into your content so employees can easily relate to the information presented. Don’t simply send out a companywide email saying the company has decided to go green or start supporting some other trendy initiative. You need to prove to employees that your goal of fostering an ethical workplace is a long-term goal that they fit into.
3. Co-create a marketing strategy: Compliance officers should partner with the marketing teams in order to develop a consistent, effective strategy. The different business backgrounds will help create clear targeted and segmented messages that hit on the most important aspects of your brand and corporate culture. When marketing compliance externally, it’s important to incorporate compliance principles into your brand’s values as well as encourage transparency. After the strategy has been executed, both groups should go back to measure responsiveness and gauge marketing impact.