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How Brand Training Impacts Your Packaging Business

Brand training for packaging employees is a hot topic these days. Most organizations are aware of the concept, but many are left struggling to figure out what it all means or how to implement such training into their daily operations. However, taking a step back reveals the process isn’t as complicated as you think.

Before we dive into how to incorporate brand training into your business, it helps to understand why it’s important if the first place. For that, we turn to senior packaging executive and branding expert Melania (Lani) Craddock - a 30-year, award-winning veteran of the industry.

According to Lani, brand training is an essential ingredient for business growth and productivity. The most effective ones, she says, are those that utilize a top-down approach to deliver and exemplify their message.

Advantages of Brand Training for Employees

If there’s any single factor that will differentiate you from the competition, it’s having a well-defined brand identity. One that makes it crystal clear to the world who you are, what you do, and the value you provide to the marketplace.

Lani explains that “Once that brand identity is clear and you are confident that the organization can and will support it, then it is critical that every employee understands the brand message and how they impact its execution.

“Through consistent training and reinforcement of the brand’s core principles, every employee should be able to tell family, friends and visiting customers or suppliers what the brand stands for and how they personally impact the brand.”

Craddock says that doing so imparts a sense of pride and accomplishment in your workforce because they want to help the organization succeed. This kind of enthusiasm is contagious and encourages other stakeholders to believe in the brand as strongly as they do.

According to Craddock, once the initial work to distinguish the brand is complete, “broad employee training can improve customer retention, internal response rates, sales effectiveness and employee engagement. Employees will feel that they are contributing to something “bigger” and that they are part of a larger community with common goals.”

And studies have shown that higher employee satisfaction and engagement scores increases productivity and reduces turnover.

Sounds Good, But What About the Downsides?

Honestly, there’s not much to say here. Brand training for employees is a high-ROI activity that tends to strengthen your packaging organization.

In Lani’s own words, “the only real downside of doing extensive brand training might occur if something happens that requires the company to change direction. This could come about through mergers or acquisitions, introduction of new disruptive technology or some other marketplace shift that results in a diluted brand message.

“For employees who resist change, they can actually feel grief regarding the loss of the brand as they knew it.”

Our expert goes on to say how important it is for management to tackle these types of changes head-on. Primarily, by providing communication resources employees can use to redirect their efforts, stay focused, and continue delivering a unified message with high-quality service.

The Impact of Brand Training for Packaging Companies

It’s no secret that consistent messaging is the lifeblood of a healthy brand. Yet, at the same time, it’s also one of the easiest areas to lose sight of.

No matter how concise you think your message is, there’s always room for interpretation. Especially if employees are left to their own devices to understand it.

In some instances, employees inadvertently change the meaning of the brand without even realizing it. Which confuses themselves, their peers, and your clients regarding your role in the marketplace.

To combat this type of behavior, Lani recommends continuous reinforcement (and reminders) of your message until it becomes second nature to everyone involved. From entry-level employees all the way up to C-suite executives.

“What this does is to ensure that anyone outside the company that comes into contact with a company employee gets the same message – it becomes obvious that you are serious about delivering against that brand promise."

“This consistent messaging instills trust. In addition, the brand message can become a self-fulfilling prophecy (especially with service elements) as everyone knows what is expected and becomes diligent in supporting that outcome.”

Brand Training Strategies

While the benefits of brand training for employees is clear, knowing where to begin is a little murkier. According to Craddock, communication is the linchpin that makes for a successful integration.

Start by making a communication plan that outlines the needs and responsibilities of each company division (C-suite, IT, HR, Sales, Operations, etc.). Keeping in mind that, based on their role in the process, the details of each stakeholder may be different.

From there, create meaningful collateral (handouts, posters, banners, presentations, etc.) that personify the brand story. Encourage employees to share this information with family, friends, and others in their network. Present the information at monthly meetings and events and encourage attendees to become ambassadors of the brand.

Once again, Lani says that repetition is imperative. “This is not a one and done effort. Continuous reinforcement in company newsletters, meetings, and other common communications will help to drive home the message.”

She also suggests adding a meaningful tagline to email signatures and recognizing employees who foster the brand image. Which helps to reinforce the desired behavior and create a personal connection to your messaging.

Promoting Employee Buy-In for Brand Training

As with any major change in operations, creating buy-in is usually the toughest part. Brand training for employees is certainly no exception. However, Craddock says it all boils down to a single principle:

Management must set the example.

“First and foremost, you must support the brand message. Let’s say your brand is built around a sustainability message but if employees see that you don’t walk the talk internally, it can be very discouraging.”

Assuming you’re doing all you can to live and breathe your message, the next step is to actively involve your employees. Solicit their input on how to further improve upon and strengthen your branding efforts. Perhaps with a contest or reward for the most innovative ideas.

Also, “Educate employees about which companies or brands in the marketplace use your products or services so that they can support those companies,” explains Lani, “make it a personal experience and a source of pride for them.”

She gives the example of a brand with a safety component tying the message to their safety awards program. Thus, increasing the personal connection between the brand message and employees’ everyday actions.

Brand Training Specifics for Packaging Companies

Some organizations (falsely) assume that branding doesn’t affect potential clients’ decision-making process. But this simply isn’t true. At least not if you care about your brand in the first place.

In Craddock’s words, “For companies that truly embrace a brand identity, either for a product or the company itself, and look at it from the lens of their customer –the impact can be dramatic."

“Making certain that each and every employee can describe that brand message will ensure that customers will at least hear a consistent promise.”

Lani explains that - even with multiple consolidations - packaging is still a crowded space. Being able to differentiate yourself from the crowd, or provide continuity during transition periods, is the best strategy to enhance customer relationships.

Our expert closes with the final thought that, beyond the brand itself, fostering employee engagement and motivation is paramount to success.

“Many of our younger employees entering the workforce are looking for something they can relate to that encourages them they are working towards an important goal."

“Understanding the brand message can help them decide if this is the company they wish to work for. Hearing that consistent message throughout the chain of the organization will again instill confidence that the company is behind that brand.”

Which gives us all something to think about when it comes to recruiting top talent.

Conclusion

In the end, brand training for employees isn’t all that complicated. You simply need to define your end goals and work backward from there. Create an action plan that addresses these three main elements:

  • Clearly communicating your brand message and values to stakeholders
  • Setting the example for others around you to follow and emulate
  • Reiterating your messaging until it becomes second nature

And whenever possible, as Lani so eloquently puts it, “Find those opportunities to build an emotional link with the brand.”

Because only by seeing, hearing, and living your message will employees take it to heart.

More About Our Expert

Melania (Lani) Craddock is a senior packaging executive with experience in marketing, business development, and product innovation. With 30 years of flexible packaging experience, she has had the opportunity to work in a wide variety of end-use markets, developing solutions to both common everyday problems as well as extraordinary challenges.

Lani utilizes her formal education in food science from Purdue University and Clemson University to help customers in the food industry develop packaging and systems which enhance their offering through extended shelf life, ease of use and consumer appeal. Ms. Craddock’s interest in solving complex problems has resulted in numerous packaging related patents and industry awards.

What are the biggest obstacles you’ve encountered with brand training? 

Leave a comment below and tell us about it!

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