Internal Branding is the way that companies explain on the how and why they do business to their own group. Internal branding rolls up key ingredients like Alignment and Core Values. It’s also one of those things that files under Internal Communications. It’s also done poorly at many companies, or commonly not done at all.
You’ve likely worked in companies that lived and breathed core values and some that clearly did not. Or had values that were very different than your own. When done thoughtfully and clearly, communicating why your company is in business can be a powerful tool for pulling all of your employees onto the same page and helping to flush out those who are not in alignment for the sake of sanity.
Myth 1 - Internal Branding is not worth the effort.
It is up to you to promote your brand to your employees before they can ever promote your company to your customers.
Alignment in your corporate culture and core values has a massive bearing on your brand, how your customers are treated and can be a competitive advantage if done well. But, how does that actually happen? The 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer confirms that people trust what employees say about the company more than they trust what the company says about itself. Happy employees that share your core beliefs convey more trust and value around the company.
Myth 2 - Internal Branding is just a vague statement around quality.
Define what your company/brand is there to do - make it something that people can understand and get behind, not a statement full of jargon and buzzwords.
A fantastic example of an internal brand message:
“The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.”
It’s understandable and something that employees feel motivated to behave to fit the standard. It works because employees receive training that allows them to treat customers like they would treat themselves.
“…people who share core values and believe those values to be the most important part of their contribution to the world have the greatest potential to accomplish remarkable things together.” - Rand Fishkin, Lost and Founder
Alignment - Enable your employees to make decisions to support that definition. Let them own what needs to happen to go the extra distance to resolve a mistake or decide to make that customer extra pleased.
Assign the right person to create the right culture. We’ve all seen this assigned to someone in the company who is either not high up enough to get buy-in or doesn’t actually care about what this could mean in the end. This is not a stunt to create pretend value and everyone is responsible for upholding the identified ideals. The larger the company, the more critical it is to have everyone on board and working towards the greater good. Misalignment creates distrust, requires projects to take longer than they should, and will work against you at every turn.
Buy-in has to occur on both sides of the line. Core values define what you stand for. Your vision defines how those are applied and developing a culture is more than just hanging posters on the wall. Your leadership should walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
The effort you put in needs to be relatable, tangible and livable.
Myth 3 - Employees will automatically know what our internal brand is.
Regular communications need to happen, and not be assumed that there is an understanding.
Companies fall down on this one too often. It should go without saying that the larger the company, the more important this becomes, and the more difficult it is to convey fully and thoroughly. Everyone from your floor staff to your engineers needs to know what the marketing department is saying as a whole. It sets expectations and goals and garners support for the brand message.
A unified team is harder to beat when the competition heats up.
The other huge benefit is that it strengthens your reputation as an employer. People want to be a part of something bigger, something they can get behind.
Myth 4 - Internal Branding doesn’t help us hire better (the right) people.
Hopefully, you are hiring people that are in alignment, able to communicate and understand your company’s vision and reason for being in business - both internally and externally - and living those core values with every phone call, email and campaign. Too often, companies hire for skill set and not how they fit into the culture. It’s only later that it becomes apparent that someone is not a good representation of your group. Offer training for all your outward facing people, and also give your internal-facing teams the same understanding of why they are all there. In the end, it’s the whole team that gets you there, not just a select few.
More helpful reading on internal culture development and communications:
Photo Credit - Unsplash
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amanda MacDonald, Founder of Full Gallop Communications, is a marketing veteran that works with equine-based businesses on improving brand communication, marketing strategy, and content marketing. With over 17 years of experience and a lifetime of riding behind her, MacDonald loves to work with the companies that enrich the life of her riding partners.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about how your marketing efforts can become more successful.