I overheard a staff member grumbling about the new email signature that was implemented for all employees. She sounded like the defiant type who was not interested in following directions, per se. She groused to a couple of her co-workers that her email signature should be personalized and unique to her.
Weeks after the new email signature was implemented, I occasionally received emails from random people in the organization with the most fantastic email signatures. They were personalized with favorite quotes or slogans not related to the organization. Some used unique fonts and colors, presumably to add interest, although they proved to distract from legibility.
If you spelled your name differently each time you wrote it, no one would ever learn your name.
For every 100 employees, your organization probably puts out at least 500 emails per day. That is 500 times you are represented to someone outside the organization. Those are opportunities to reinforce your branding, name recognition, and values…or to do the opposite.
Repetition is Useful
The human brain requires repetition to learn. If you don’t believe me, think back to your school days. Do you remember your times tables? Even for those of us who learned multiplication several decades ago, the figures stick in our heads. There are some other random facts stuck in there, too. Anybody know this one: hic, haec, hoc, huius, huius, huius?
How many times and in how many ways were your multiplication tables repeated to you when you were learning them? If you are as old as I am, your Latin class stood and recited verb declensions every day for years. That information is imprinted on your brain forever, whether you need to know it or not.
Branding your organization is mostly educating people about who you are and what you do. Repeating your name and logo with every communication helps reinforce your branding. When every member of your organization does the same, you are speaking loud and clear, gaining and reinforcing strong name recognition.
Building a Happy Workforce
You can’t make everyone happy, as the saying goes, but some managers try (too hard). If I created exceptions for every employee who complained about the email signature, consistency would be lost. Our entire branding effort related to email signatures would be a waste of time and money and just one more project to take up time in the Communication and IT departments.
Consistency is actually the key to a happy workforce more than bending the rules for those who complain. In a large organization, maintaining consistency can be difficult but is even more important.
Think of the franchise model: no matter where you travel, when you stop at a McDonald’s you will get the same product, same environment, same everything. It is rather comforting to find something familiar when you are out and about.
Consistency within your organization creates the same comfortable familiar feel for your employees. They know what to expect and can trust that the guidelines are applied the same across the organization. There are no favorites, and there are no “independent actors” within your company.
It’s Really That Easy
Yes, sarcasm is my favorite form of humor, and if you cannot infuse your work with a little humor from time to time, life gets pretty dull. Creating and maintaining consistency across your organization, big or small, is not easy. It requires a commitment to best practices and the discipline that some top-level leaders don’t have.
First, you must recognize the importance of being consistent in your internal and external communications. Repetition is necessary to get everyone on board with your messaging. Managers who think they can say it once and get it done are often bewildered with poor outcomes and low employee engagement.
Consistent messaging to your external audiences can mean the difference between building a solid organization and just floundering in the marketplace. Your goal is to educate various constituencies and that takes time and repetition. For every deviation from consistency, your efforts will be set back exponentially.
Finally, discipline is not a common trait among top-level leaders. They tend to be the big-picture thinkers, the dreamers. It is the doers who focus on details and display discipline in the process. If you do not possess the discipline to provide consistency in your organization, find someone on your team who does, and rely on that person to keep your messaging on track.