It’s not enough to drink the Kool Aid. You need to like it too.

Don't serve the Kool Aid, make it taste good!

Your employees should like the taste of your brand.

My good friend and human resources guru Amy Peeler and I had drinks the other night at the always-delicious Sushi Muramoto. (BTW, if you haven’t tried the Asian Margarita there with lychee fruit…well, you just haven’t lived). Over the course of the evening we talked a lot about managers, marketing and what it is that really makes for a great place to work. It’s fun to talk with Amy because she understands not only HR legal mumbo jumbo, but business and marketing strategy as well. She gets that amazing companies don’t develop “People” policies independent of their mission statements, product development and marketing strategies. They develop their people along with their business and marketing strategies.

So many companies…unfortunately too many companies…deliver the employee handbook on Orientation Day 1 and proclaim, “This is our mission. This is our culture. Now you are a part of this culture.” Essentially, “Here, drink this Kool Aid, everyone else has and you’re going to love it. Because you have to.”

In today’s competitive marketplace, its not enough to just make your employees drink the Kool Aid. That may work for a little while, but eventually they will tire of it’s forced, bitter taste and you will lose not only an employee, but a company evangelist – something that potentially every employee, if treated well, can become.

Great companies not only serve up the Kool Aid, but make it taste great too.

Now you may say, “Stop using this stupid analogy and get to the damn point, Karen!”

Great companies use their human resources as just that – resources from which the company can draw a rich supply of information, experience and value. When properly mined and rewarded for service, your employees will become your brand champions and in this word-of-mouth, hyper-social media-ized culture, that can be leveraged for growth.

Amy followed up our evening with an email that eloquently wraps up this idea:

“Your external brand should ideally mirror or support your internal culture. You market to potential customers, yes, but also to existing and potential employees. Your vibe should be genuine and tasty–appealing to anyone who might already be or want to become affiliated, be they buying, crafting or peddling your product or service.

It’s not enough to make ’em drink your Kool Aid–if your potion tastes good, they’ll drink voluntarily and offer it to their friends…”

–Amy Peeler, Madison, WI

Amy and I would love to talk to you about shoring up your internal culture (her) and then proactively communicating this to your customers (me). This isn’t just shameless self-promo, it’s actually FUN for us too.

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