Internal Branding: Why You Should Place More Stock in Your Employees
Do your employees know what makes your company great? And do they believe that your company is great? If not, your company probably has an issue with its internal branding strategy that is preventing it from realizing the true value of its brand building initiatives.
Your employees are the engine behind your brand. They create the ideas that make external marketing campaigns that inform customers and future buyers come to life. Without them, your branding initiatives will only have a temporary impact and not be sustainable over the long-run.
Here are 8 tips for how to build an effective internal branding strategy:
- Adopt corporate aspirations that reinforce the brand principles and make the brand part of the company’s corporate strategy. By infusing the brand into the company’s culture, vision and strategy, management will signal to employees that the changes are permanent, which should expedite employee adoption and the transition to a supportive brand culture.
- Tie one of your company’s key performance indicators (KPIs) to the internal branding strategy and make sure that part of each employee’s variable compensation is tied to this metric. This will establish employee accountability for brand principles, which will expedite brand adoption and encourage continued practice of brand principles. However, do not force rapid cultural change, as you want the cultural transition to be a comfortable change that the employees welcome. This will increase the likelihood of success for the internal branding strategy.
- Make sure that the brand message is consistent across internal and external branding initiatives. The internal brand needs to be a supporting pillar and driving force behind the external branding initiative. Messaging contradictions will damage brand credibility amongst your employees and customers.
- Make sure the management team is fully onboard before rolling out a new internal branding campaign. Management and senior leadership have to lead by example for the cultural transition to go over smoothly. Employees will slowly adopt the new cultural ways as they see management do so.
- Encourage the use of social media for brand promotion by eliminating outdated legal rules that prevent or limit employees from openly sharing their thoughts about your company, products or brand via public forums or social media. Doing so, will increase the transparency of your organization and allow your customers and employees to build stronger relationships with your organization and establish a new sense of trust, which serves as the foundation for any branding strategy.
- When recruiting new employees, seek out candidates who possess the key traits of your brand. This will help your management team maintain the brand supportive culture.
- Make it a point to embed your brand’s values in every employee communication. However, make learning about the brand fun. Employees do not enjoy being preached to, so try to slowly build the brand into the corporate culture.
- Don’t force brand adoption on your employees. Let the employee brand adoption happen naturally over time. But ensure that it happens by equipping each employee with the knowledge and tools to deliver your brand and be successful in the new work environment.
Successful execution of an internal branding strategy requires patience, persistence, honesty and transparency. True brand loyalty and commitment is not achieved until an employee fully trusts and believes in a brand. In order to be successful, a brand needs to be a part of everything the company does and ingrained in every aspect of the company’s culture, vision and corporate strategy.
If you are interested in learning more about internal brand building, then I highly recommend reading Collin Mitchell’s January 2002 Harvard Business Review article entitled “Selling the Brand Inside.” I also recommend reading Scott Maxwell’s series on developing corporate aspirations that facilitate your company’s corporate vision.