Worldwide, many millions of dollars are spent by businesses annually on developing a public-facing brand and marketing messages based on that brand identity. Very few companies, however, pay as much attention to their internal branding and getting employees on board with a corporate vision. And yet, staff members are potentially your biggest brand advocates. After all, it’s your employees that are interacting with customers, consumers and potential clients in a multitude of ways, every single day. The truth is, for customers, it’s your employees that bring your brand to life. And in today’s highly competitive marketplace, often it’s employees that are the key differentiator, which will set you apart from the competition. So how can you go about developing your internal branding to create brand advocates? Well, in this article we look at what you should be doing to make your internal branding as effective as your public-facing one.
Why Internal Branding Is Important
Before we look at ways to develop your internal branding, let’s first make the case for doing so. We’ve touched on it already, but internal branding is all about giving your employees a sense of purpose, a notion of the bigger picture and an emotional connection to your company’s products and services. If your employees aren’t invested and believe in the business, its products and services, then how can they convert prospects and achieve more sales? It’s a simple as that really.
And if you’re still not convinced, how about these statistics to make you think again:
- Companies with a strong sense of a common purpose, outperform the competition by as much as 400 percent.
- Businesses with committed and enthusiastic employees are 43 percent more productive than those who are unhappy or who think of it as just a job.
- Organizations with highly engaged employees have a 10 percent higher customer satisfaction
And so as you can see, internal branding if done effectively, can have a big impact on the levels of employee engagement and overall team morale. The bottom line is that businesses with strong internal branding tend to have higher productivity, customer retention rates and a happier and more involved workforce.
Now that we have a clear understanding of the importance of internal branding, let’s turn our attention to ways in which you can achieve it.
1. Align Your Internal And External Branding
Consistent, integrated messages are critical when it comes to successful branding. No doubt you will have spent a considerable amount of time and effort in getting your external branding right. It’s likely to include a logo, corporate colors, even a specific font as well as its own taglines and catchy slogans.
And when it comes to your internal branding, it’s important that it’s clearly related to the external one with a similar look and feel as well as the same sounding messages. This doesn’t mean that the two need to be exactly the same – in fact, it’s essential that they are different because they are directed at two differing end audiences.
Inconsistent or wildly different internal and external branding messages will only cause confusion amongst staff. And carrying on along these lines will lead to disillusionment with your company’s purpose and its aims and objectives.
Instead, give your internal branding its own individual spin – perhaps a different color from your external one, a slightly rejigged logo or its own name. Whatever, you do though, for maximum effect make sure it has a clear relationship with the external brand.
A great way to set a clear internal brand is with your company intranet. Use the internal branding colors, fonts and rejigged logo and really bring it to life on the intranet. Utilize the intranet to communicate those important brand messages, taglines and slogans and get employees on board and engaged with the internal brand.
2. Define Your Core Values And Mission
A good internal brand has at its core a clear sense of direction and a well-defined purpose. Defining your core values and mission goes a long way to making it clear to staff what it is that sets you apart and makes your offering unique. It’s essentially the very essence of you as an organization. If you can get this right and, more importantly, really engage with staff in the process then you will be transforming your workforce from one that simply turns up and mindlessly does the job, to one that believes they are making a real contribution to something much bigger.
The intranet can help you achieve this important step too. Set the ball rolling with a podcast or video invitation published on the intranet from the CEO. Then try setting up an intranet blog or discussion forum and invite staff to contribute their ideas and insights on what constitutes your core values and mission. You can then survey staff utilizing the quizzes and polls feature on the intranet. And remember to feed back to staff and update them on progress using the intranet’s news pages. Involving staff in this way will increase their sense of ownership and is more likely to result in a set of values that employees can relate to and identify with.
The intranet is then, the perfect platform for engaging with staff and collaborating on identifying your company’s core values and mission. And if you can keep it short and snappy then even better! There’s nothing more disengaging than a 50-page memo on the internal brand or long and boring guidance on its use.
3. Make Your Internal Brand Integral To Everything That You Do
From email signatures to intranet home pages or posters around the office, the internal brand should be a very obvious presence in the workplace and integral to all operations and activities. If you want to sustain that important emotional connection that will fuel your internal brand advocates, then the internal brand needs to underpin everything that you do. Use your intranet to publish and publicize the internal brand to all staff members. Create a sense of anticipation and drama by having a launch date and a big countdown to take off. Have the internal brand as the intranet logon screen. Use every internal touchpoint to reinforce the key internal branding messages.
What’s more, don’t make the mistake of seeing internal branding as a one-off exercise. Instead, think if it as almost a living thing that needs to be nurtured and sustained and not simply left in the corner to fend for itself. Revisit and review the brand on a regular basis. Perhaps every year check with staff members that the vision and values are still relevant with a snap poll on the intranet or by starting up a discussion forum. Use a CEO blog post to set up an ongoing dialogue with staff members on the internal brand. And use the intranet to demonstrate how your internal brand translates into the day-to-day roles that staff undertake within your business. Or better still, why not reward and recognize those employees that are living the vision in an employee recognition program on the intranet? After all, they are the real brand ambassadors.
And according to Gallup, 78 percent of engaged employees would recommend their company’s products or services. And with an amazing 74 percent of respondents in one recent consumer survey identifying word of mouth and personal recommendations as being the most influential factor in making purchasing decisions, there’s no doubting internal branding potentially can contribute many valuable returns for your business.