Your company is a reflection of you. If there's anything you want to change or improve about it, look in the mirror first. You must understand that if you want your internal employees to buy into what your brand stands for, you need to be prepared to do some introspection and take stock of both its perceived strengths and weaknesses.
What Is Internal Branding?
Internal branding is the process of understanding and defining what a company stands for. When you're branding your company, you're trying to tell people your story. This includes who you are and what you do. It also includes why you do it. In other words, internal branding helps employees understand how their work contributes to the company's success.
Why Does It Matter?
Internal branding is part of your brand management strategy. It's how you present your company to the world and how people see your company. Internal branding is about ensuring employees stay focused on what their company stands for, regardless of external pressures. Here are the benefits of internal branding.
Internal branding is the litmus test for your brand. It's a reality check that can separate you from the rest of the industry. Internal branding can help keep executives honest and on message by ensuring that externally what they say is also said internally.
It Creates Brand Advocates.
Internal brand ambassadors are the best people to evangelize your brand on the inside. The more passionate employees you have, the more effective your company's spokesperson will be. In short, if you want a powerful internal advocate for your brand, you should invest in internal branding. A strong advocate for your brand is one of the most important assets.
Improves Hiring and Retention.
It enables you to hire and retain the best talent in your industry. It's the secret sauce for retaining top executives, too: when you hire for brand fit, your internal employee won't risk choosing an employer that isn't right for them.
It Fosters a Relationship Between Employees and the Brand.
It encourages employees to feel connected and loyal to your brand. It helps foster a culture of innovation and creativity, too. When employees have a strong relationship with the brand, they're more likely to work together to achieve the company's larger goals.
Ensures Employees are Delivering a Branded Customer Experience.
When employees have a good grasp of what your company stands for, they'll deliver the best customer experience possible. Often, internal branding starts with an employee's understanding of how their specific job contributes to the customer experience.
Links Your Internal and External Branding.
When you create an internal brand, you create space for your external brand to grow. Internally, employees know why they do what they do. Externally, customers can identify with this purpose and believe in it.
If Not, What Would Happen?
It would seem that internal branding is the key to building a powerful brand internally because it helps create the foundation of your employees' commitment to your brand. In the long run, internal branding is not just how you build a strong brand. It's also the way you attract, retain and develop top talent.
How to Create an Internal Branding Culture?
1. Develop an Internal Branding Strategy.
Every organization needs a clear internal branding strategy to ensure internal and external alignment. This has to be fully aligned with the external brand strategy. Here are five steps for creating an internal branding strategy.
Step one. Identify the key drivers that define your organization's mission, vision, and values. What are your core beliefs? How do customers connect with you? What helps make you different?
Step two. Define a set of brand pillars that support these beliefs. These pillars need to resonate with your culture and be consistent with the external brand messaging.
Step three. Establish a clear, coherent purpose and connect that to a unique value proposition. This needs to be clearly defined to align internally as well as externally. This can also help determine the role of each employee in delivering on this purpose and their skills.
Step four. Develop a narrative, which tells your story, communicates why you exist and aligns both internally and externally. This narrative needs to be understood and shared by everyone in your organization.
Step five. Empower employees to live this story and use it as a guide for decision-making. It would help if you made all employees feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves, their job description, and their department.
2. Delivering Your Internal Branding Campaign.
The key to success in an internal branding campaign is consistency. You need to ensure your message is delivered consistently with your activities across the organization. Here's a checklist for successful internal branding.
Step one. Identify what people will see and experience in their work environment as part of your brand. Ensure employees understand who they will be working with and how they will fit into a larger picture.
Step two. Create an environment that encourages communication, collaboration, and innovation. Creating an environment where people are inspired to work together is key to effectively delivering your internal brand message.
Step three. Engage employees in the branding process by asking them to share their thoughts and help you create a consistent internal brand. Ensure you listen and acknowledge their input, which will help them be engaged in the process.
Step four. Launch your branding campaign before you begin changing things for the outside world. It's more effective to be consistent internally before you start taking external messaging in the right direction.
Step five. Ensure your organization and employees are 100% aligned with the internal branding message. This will help create a culture of brand empowerment and ownership.
3. Important Aspects of an Internal Branding Campaign.
Train Employees in Your Brand.
Train employees in the mission, vision, values, and the narrative of your brand. Ensure they know how their actions impact your external brand too.
Live The Mission, Work for the Vision, Stay Up for The Values.
1. Mission Statement. Describe what your company stands for in a memorable single sentence. It should be as clear and as simple as possible.
2. Vision Statement. Describe the company's long-term direction or future state. It should be concise but also encompass the purpose of your organization.
3. Values Statement. Explain the principles and moral standards that your employees can guide their actions and make decisions.
Success is defined in many ways. No matter which success metric you choose to use, make sure it aligns with your company's purpose and values.
Evaluate the Campaign.
After launching your internal branding campaign, evaluate how it impacts your organization's brand. Does the internal campaign align with the external? Do employees feel like they are an integral part of something bigger than themselves? How has this impacted employee attitudes, engagement, turnover, and other metrics used to measure success in your company?
What to Include in an Internal Branding Training.
It is extremely important to have a clear and consistent set of values that your employees can latch onto. This could include your mission statement, why you do what you do, and the kind of company you want to be. You will also want to create a brand communication strategy for the communication channels and media that your company uses effectively.
Living the Mission.
This is a very important part of internal branding. You want your employees to know why they work for the company and that you are committed to fulfilling the mission you've set out for your company. When you create a mission statement, it will serve as a guidepost for your employees. Every time they read an annual report or review performance benchmarks, they will see this statement. This is when the employee feels comfortable knowing what the company stands for and what it's doing to fulfill its mission.
Working for the Vision.
Ensure you also create an internal vision statement to help employees understand why the company exists. This is applicable in all areas of your organization, including sales, marketing, research and development, and finance. It should include specific goals that are measurable and attainable within three years.
Applying the Values.
When you create your internal brand, you need to communicate the values that you want all of your employees to understand and embrace. These values should be the same across the organization.
For example, Google's senior leadership laid out the company's mission and values in the Google Code of Conduct. Google's culture is characterized by the desire to achieve great things, which requires a relentless focus on producing the best services for its users.
Reward and Recognition Programs.
Rewards and recognition are two key ways to reinforce behaviors that demonstrate the values that you want your employees to adopt. These programs can include gift cards, discounts or free items.
You can include a mentor program in your internal branding process if you want to help develop your people in a way that will help their careers or allow them to learn about the company's culture and values.
In conclusion, as the number of internal branding campaigns grows, you mustn't view them as an event reserved for your brand marketing team. It should be a regular part of the culture inside your company.