How To Build Your Brand To Beat Burnout
Braven is a 5x founder and an expert in brand development. He is the founder & CEO at Three Good and a founding board member at La Visual.
Earlier in my career, I was a graphic designer. Later, a creative director. And then, finally, a branding agency founder and CEO. I loved brainstorming with the creative team. I relished every moment spent mulling over the details. Pouring my heart and soul into the creative process was something I was passionate about. I loved it so much that I couldn’t stop. During that period of my career, I often worked up to three days without sleep. It wasn’t until a decade later, after I had launched my first profitable business, that I realized I had developed an unhealthy relationship with work.
At that time, burnout wasn’t really talked about, but the fact is plain to me now: I had neglected balance. Worse, I realized I had established a culture that embraced that imbalance and workaholism, creating burnout in others. According to the American Psychological Association, burnout is associated with overworking yourself.
Today, burnout is increasing exponentially, and the millennial generation is suffering the most. Studies show millennials are 47% more likely to struggle with depression than the generations before. Here’s the deal: If we want our people to stay healthy and thrive at work, leadership teams everywhere need to be more intentional in putting anti-burnout practices in place. I’m not talking about the obvious ones like employee assistance programs, gym memberships and access to therapy. I’m talking about being even more proactive by building burnout prevention directly into your brand.
Below, I list three ways you can reshape your brand internally to get ahead of burnout for your people.
1. Define your brand essence. Since burnout is directly connected to how people establish healthy work-life rhythms, and brand is directly related to how people interact with others in authentic relationships, we can make some powerful strides toward a healthier culture by integrating authenticity into our brand. Interview your people and come up with a one-line statement that embodies everything your brand is today. It shouldn’t be what the executives say it is or what it aspires to be, but what the employees say it is. This way, you’re putting the brand behind your people and allowing them to co-create it. This will keep your workforce engaged with the brand at a deeper level.
2. Create a microsite to share stories and symbols. Give your workforce access to each other’s stories of success and failure via this site, with the brand values at the center. Then create symbols to imprint these stories on the hearts of your people. This helps to start the process Nicholas Ind calls “brand internalization” in his book Branding Inside Out. After you’ve built the site and promoted it internally, make sure to have your management team incentivize employees to share on the channel. Finally, and this point is critical, make sure your executives are contributing to this ecosystem. This will bolster adoption across the organization and show your entire workforce that your company really does care about the brand.
3. Identify your brand defenders. You’ve all heard of brand evangelists: a small group of people in your company who are the cheerleaders of the brand. Evangelists are like fans of a sports team, but brand defenders take it a step further by internalizing the brand into their own identity. They’re the players on the team. They defend against attacks on your brand’s mission, vision and values, ensuring there are fewer attempts to dilute and destroy it. Brand defenders should be identified regularly and rewarded above all others.
These three action items are only the beginning. It’s going to take a lot more for a brand to break through and truly be exceptional enough to guard against burnout. It’s going to take brands that are intrinsically designed to fight burnout and leaders who are intimately involved in following through with a thoughtful brand management program. According to Ind, “if leaders aren’t fully involved in the process or if they delegate the delivery of the program to a function within the business, the [brand] program rarely gets the traction, engagement and the commitment it deserves.”
In closing, I’m challenging business leaders to stop checking the same old boxes when it comes to employee well-being. It’s important to remember that we’re dealing with our most precious asset: people. We live in a new era. An era where people over profits is no longer a vision; it’s a reality. And the companies who emerge on top will be driven by leaders who accept the challenge to build better brands for their people — brands that go further to beat burnout.
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