Responsibility for a brand goes beyond the marketing department—it’s everyone’s job.  You cannot stifle branding by slotting it into the same outdated organizational paradigms.  New social technologies have mandated a fundamental shift in brands, but this shift can provide unparalleled opportunities if companies can harness its power.  Agile businesses able to think outside the proverbial box should easily succeed in today’s environment.  Businesses that lead through internal collaboration among all departments will develop a competitive advantage in brand value in today’s fast-moving world.

Branding has become a process of engaging consumers by inviting them along for a social journey.  Of course, the best journeys don’t simply stop at a single destination.  The journey of the social brand is one of infinite destinations, limited only by the imaginations of its customers, contributors and co-collaborators.

Employees are a channel to your story

A brand’s story isn’t just filler for its Wikipedia page; it is a powerful marketing tool.  If you can successfully communicate your company’s story, values, and plan for the future, you will be able to generate the kind of lifelong commitment to your brand that most businesses only dream of.  However, to ensure that your brand’s story doesn’t get distorted or “lost in translation,” so to speak, you must engage your employees by helping them to understand their own investment in the story’s outcome.  If you can capture their imaginations with your message, they will spread the word to all corners of the globe.

One needs to look no further than Steve Jobs and Apple to see how compelling a brand’s story can be.  Think of the good feelings this story fosters, and how essential it is to the public’s perception of Apple’s brand.  The ubiquitous story of Apple’s rise to the top could only have come about through the company’s employees, each of which knows the tale by heart and is ready to retransmit it to anyone willing to listen.

Storytelling has always been a brand’s greatest ally, but not until the past decade has it been possible to distribute it so readily.  Both your customers and your employees will be better able to identify with your brand if they can locate themselves within your story and feel like they have a stake in its outcome.  After all, any brand can run a successful campaign and reap short-term success, but only the integrated social brand can sustain that interest and foster lifelong engagement.

Are you empowering employees to tell your company’s story? Are you arming them with tools or platforms to do so? Share your experiences in comments.

Cheryl Burgess (@ckburgess) is a digital and social brand consultant, blogger, and speaker. Her knowledge of business strategy, passion for creative expression, and marketing technology helps businesses achieve the remarkable. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.