Employees, like consumers, are bombarded all day with information. One way to help us identify priorities is the use of brands. Consumers use brands to help them make a product or service choice, employees use it to prioritise their most precious resource – time.
A few points to note before we continue:
- Brand is the sum of identity, image and aspiration
- Identity is what the brand stands for
- Image is what the brand represents
- Aspiration is how the brand makes us feel
These principles hold true for both external and internal brands. Identity represents the culture and values of your organisation. Image is akin to the organisation’s vision and mission. And aspiration stands for what your organisation will do.
From the inside out
Internal brand building is the linking of the organisation’s culture and values to an individual’s values in ways that enable both to achieve their goals. Entrepreneurs can, and should, link their communication to the internal branding process as a means of binding their goals to organisational outcomes.
The starting point for any brand is what the organisation stands for: its mission and vision, backed by culture and values, and what the brand means to employees. Any deviation will strike a false note.
Make leadership the brand driver
The brand needs senior management support in order to survive. Entrepreneurs need to link their goals to the organisation’s, a powerful way to do this is through branding. When entrepreneurs are in sync with the organisation, there’s a better chance of getting results. At the same time, if pushing change, you can use the brand to drive the transformation by finding the impetus and support for the initiative inside the culture.
Nurture the brand through communication
A brand without communication is like a single, unlabeled can on a shelf, you don’t know what it is, and you really don’t care. Any communication tool, from email to an inclusive staff meeting should reinforce the brand.
Choosing which media and when depends upon the message – the heavier the brand message, the more media you will need. To keep it fresh and vital, email and banners might do the trick. Again, keep the communications consistent with the brand identity, image and aspirations.
Align internal operations practices with external brand messages
From the CEO to the customer service reps, every employee must understand, articulate and implement the brand consistently. They must be brand ambassadors in everything they do.
Measure and monitor customer experiences
We don’t know what we don’t know. That’s why measurement and customer feedback is critical to managing your brand. By implementing measures for feedback, as well as establishing internal checks, you can ensure that you deliver your brand promise and close any potential gaps that could erode customer trust and loyalty. In the case of internal branding/communication, the employee is the customer.
Motivate your employees to build and monitor the brand
If your employees have a vested interest in the brand process, they are far more likely to uphold the company’s values and brand. They must understand the importance of their role and be motivated to act with the brand in mind at all times.
Inject a sense of fun
Who says life at work has to be dull? Link the brand to activities that are less formal, for example, corporate outings, off-site activities, after hours bowling or cricket leagues. Your branding can be as simple as displaying your corporate logo on a banner, or putting your logo on hats. After all, part of brand building is merchandising. In this way, your brand becomes a unifier and reinforces your organisational culture.
Grow the brand
Organisations either grow or die. The same applies to brands. The brand must be inclusive and by that, it must embrace new initiatives that arise with regularity, think brand extensions. If manufacturing rolls out a quality initiative, the team would be well served by linking the quality to the company wide brand. In doing so, they add credibility as well as awareness.
Brand management is an ongoing process that must be adopted by the entire organisation. The key to ensuring you deliver your brand promise is to empower your employees to be brand ambassadors. Then the link between your company and your customers can become a powerful and lasting connection.