• Transform magazine
  • June 16, 2019

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Opinion: “Building trust through brand communications will support and promote the business’ strategy”

Patrick Eastwood.jpg

In today's world, singular employee satisfaction isn't enough. Employee's seek emotional commitment and guidance throughout their journeys while employers expect everyone internally to be aligned to the company's vision and values.

The employer brand is the first touchpoint a company uses to speak to its internal audiences; allowing it to communicate with a clear and coherent voice. Building trust through brand communications will support and promote the business’ strategy and will reap rewards. The overarching employer brand can also unlock internal messaging to the outside world – enabling the organisation to attract the best talent.

Creating a strong employer brand is a clear investment in order to remain competitive and to deliver results.

In 2011, HSBC decided to radically overhaul its principal form of employee engagement by creating an internally-distributed television channel. The goal was to build a platform that disseminated not just strategic information but also a wide range of personal stories about the staff themselves. The reach of HSBC NOW continues to grow with expansion to three different geographically based channels, a purpose-built UGC file-sharing app and a presence on YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Focus in the second full year of HSBC NOW Asia’s development has switched from establishing and growing the audience to zeroing in on content relevance, incorporating external world events and, crucially, finding new distribution channels and methods. The impetus created in the first year of HSBC NOW Asia has helped drive the bank toward the positive side of using video as an internal communications tool and finding ways to further develop that editorial content. NOW Asia reaches beyond its initial function to be harnessed for individual department messaging and communication with both internal and external stakeholders.

Considerable attention to editorial detail has not just expedited the rapid communication of key strategic targets and the distribution of information from senior executives, but also demonstrated the power of content and storytelling at all levels within the bank. Among many other issues, HSBC NOW has become a platform for diversity and inclusion, LGBT issues and has repeatedly raised the issue of working mothers. One particular story about a staff member with leukaemia ultimately initiated a global campaign to donate bone marrow. The enormous response raised awareness to the extent that a donor was identified and, following a successful operation, the employee received a transplant.

The programme has also provided a crucial platform to display and promote content from HSBC’s 150th anniversary, Global Standards programme and user generated material and puts HSBC’s global staff members at the heart of the content, facilitating compelling personal stories of friendship and triumph from inside and outside the organisation. The programme is now firmly embedded in HSBC’s corporate culture and regularly reaches a third of their 265,000 employees. Furthermore, Hong Kong is the top region worldwide for YouTube subscriptions to the HSBC NOW channel and the second region with the most views for the channel.

The project has reaped impressive results with 73% of employees saying they trust messages from senior managers and 95% positive Twitter comments. Seven in 10 employees say they feel more connected to HSBC after watching the programme and 75% have a strong understanding of business priorities.

Patrick Eastwood is a partner at MerchantCantos in Hong Kong. MerchantCantos is  supporting the Transform Asia Pacific Conference on 18 November. Take a look at the programme and book your place now.

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