In a world where the customer experience is king, don’t forget about your greatest brand advocates – your people. Your internal culture and how you communicate within your organisation can speak volumes about your brand.
Brand refresh, rebranding and brand positioning – these projects are becoming commonplace as businesses try to compete in a rapidly evolving marketplace. At the same time, audiences are savvier (and perhaps more sceptical?) about marketing and advertising, so it’s even harder for your brand messages to cut through. Aligning your external messages with your internal culture and brand is more important than ever.
Authenticity is key
How many of your employees believe your brand purpose? Do they feel genuinely empowered to deliver on it? Your CVP (customer value proposition) and EVP (employee value proposition) are inextricably linked, if your employees don’t believe in your purpose, why should your customer?
To paraphrase John Deer who once asked their employees “why do you come to work every day?”, they simply answered; “to make tractors”. Not very inspirational or motivating – so very functional. The company reframed this as; “without us, the nation does not eat”. They gave their people a purpose and reason to believe in (and subsequently better deliver) what they do.
No matter the size of the company, many struggle with employee communications, internal marketing and branding. It is so important to get this right; this is how you get your people to support your brand. If your people embrace it, they’ll live it. And if they live it, they’ll sell it. This balance between aspiration and authenticity is what all brands should strive for.
If your external brand says “customers first”, “we’re listening” and “we’re with you all the way”, but your staff don’t live these values or deliver this through their service – your internal and external branding doesn’t match up.
Your brand is your people
Internal culture is important not just because of how it makes your consumer feel. It’s also essential for that vital employee engagement.
When we are developing internal branding, we workshop with employees of the business from all levels, frontline staff, marketing and brand managers through to senior executives, engaging them in the brand strategy process. They are the heart of the organisation after all and your key stakeholders! Be ready for some brand truths to surface (some good, perhaps some not so good!), but it’s this openness and honesty that will form the solid foundation of creating an authentic brand.
To keep employees engaged, we put as much consideration into the graphic design and the tone of internal branding and communications as we would with an external audience. It takes time, effort and commitment to maintain employee engagement and passion.
An internal brand that aligns with a marketing strategy is an opportunity to create something that evolves and adapts over time. With the sheer volume and diversity of internal messages, you need to communicate to staff – a less rigid and creative branding system can offer greater flexibility and allow you to maintain high levels of engagement long term.
Great brands listen, learn and evolve – and always from the inside, out.