Secret Marketer: Is it possible to build a strong brand with only employees and investment?

I recently presented a paper to the company board about the need to invest more in our brand.

It was a well written paper using detailed research showing how we are slipping behind our competitors and detailed customer and market analyst quotes.

The finale appealed to everyone around the table – why a weak brand made it difficult for the sales director to meet his targets, why the HR director was limited in hiring and retaining top talent, and even why the CEO was not getting the coverage he deserved because no-one knew our story.

As usual with such strong arguments, I had riotous support for my case but the usual withering looks appeared when I asked for the necessary investment that it demanded.

Sitting in the bath the following day, I had a brainwave. Everyone talks about the great role model that John Lewis is for demonstrating employee engagement – everyone has shares in the company, a say in its direction, and everyone benefits from the profits that follow.

I also recall hearing after the events of September 11, how some airlines and travel companies asked their employees to volunteer for a pay cut as the industry sought to get itself back on its feet after customers stopped flying –  most employees signed up.

It certainly seemed like a model worth following. We could ask all employees to donate £100 (or 0.10% of their salary) as a one-off into a fund to build our brand.

Not only would I get the money I need to invest but all of my employees would have a stake in the company’s future. Beyond that, they would also be entitled to more benefits. As my paper stated, having a strong brand will help us be more successful, resulting in higher profits, bigger bonuses and more job security. In addition, the company would benefit from positive PR coverage that would result from launching such an initiative.

Alas, as with all great ideas hatched in the bath, everyone I mentioned it to scoffed at the idea. Excuses ranged from “employees will not do it” to “the media will say that we are going bust if we need our staff to help us out” and “you will have every Tom, Dick and Harry commentating on the new creative”.

Oh well, back to my dreaming – how about a bit of crowd-funding? Any volunteers?

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here