Internal branding: ensure that employees bring your brand to life
It is important that your organization showcases its personality, and who can embody your brand best? That is right, your employees. This is called internal branding. Your employees bring your brand to life in their daily work activities. This ranges from the sales representative who interacts with customers to the procurer who engages with suppliers. However, research among marketers shows that only 53% of companies are clearly aligned when it comes to brandy identity. Marketers believe that only 37% of their colleagues know how to convey the brand promise. And that is risky because failing to deliver on your brand promise can be detrimental to your reputation. In this blog article, I will explain how you can use internal branding to ensure that your employees effectively portray your brand externally.
What is internal branding?
Internal branding is the positioning of your brand. Through internal branding, the behavior of employees is aligned with the external profile of the organization. In other words, employees embody in their behavior what the brand promises. This goes beyond internal communication, which is solely focused on knowledge transfer. There are two ways to approach internal branding:
- Outside-in: Translate the external brand to the internal context.
- Inside-out: Build the external brand based on the internal organizational culture.
The second approach is better, because then the brand is truly carried by the identity and core values of your company.
The importance of internal branding
Why is it so important for your employees to effectively represent your brand? Here are some statistics:
- 45% of your brand image is derived from what your brand says and how it says it
- 54% of people mistrust brands.
Therefore, it is crucial to consistently fulfill your brand promises. Much of the mistrust towards brands arises from broken promises and unmet expectations. You have to deliver what you promise! Only that way can you gain the trust of your (potential) customers.
The crucial role of employees
Employees play a crucial role in fulfilling your brand's promises, because their daily decisions, actions, and communication are the basis of your brand identity. The better your employees represent the brand identity, the more closely the image (reputation) that outsiders have of you aligns with reality. Especially in the B2B sector with long buyer journeys where personal contact is very important, the behavior of your employees can make or break your brand. However, whether employees are successful in representing the brand depends almost entirely on the guidance and support you provide them. And that is where internal branding comes into play.
Getting Started with Internal Branding [5 Steps]
The goal of internal branding is to make the brand 'come alive' within the organization. To achieve such a behavioral change, you need to invest significantly in explaining the brand to employees. Below are some tips to get started:
1. Get everyone on board
For internal branding to be successful, it is essential to create awareness that branding is the responsibility of all employees, not just the marketing department. Two-thirds of marketers acknowledge that teams outside of marketing have little to no clarity about their role in delivering the brand promise. This is not surprising when you realise that 67% of company executives fail to recognize the (strategic) value of a brand! Successful internal branding, therefore, requires everyone in the company to support the brand. This starts with the endorsement of the top management.
2. Launch the brand internally
When (re)developing your brand identity, it is important to launch the brand internally before taking it externally. Organise a gathering, for example, where you present the new visual identity and explain the core values. A brand document provides guidance for your employees. Create a small booklet, for instance, that succinctly and clearly explains the brand in plain language. Also, be sure to provide tools for applying the brand promise in daily practice.
3. Keep the brand alive
Also after the brand is launched, you have to keep the brand alive. You can do this via internal communication channels such as e-mail and intranet. But also your internal meetings or even your office space can contribute to consistently bringing brand awareness to your employees.
4. Ask for input
The brand truly comes to life in daily operations. This is where you find the best examples of how abstract brand values are translated into practice. Encourage your employees to share their stories. Interview different employees to understand how they embody the brand. Use these stories to inspire others through internal communication.
5. Share the results
Nothing works as a better motivator than tangible results. Show your employees the outcome of their efforts. Create a monthly infographic showcasing figures on social media followers and customer satisfaction. Share it via email or display the image in the break room. As an additional motivation, you can reward enthusiastic employees. Declare a new top brand ambassador every month. This could be someone who has promoted a lot on social media or has attended various events.
6. Collaborate with HR
Effective internal branding requires close collaboration between marketing, (internal) communications, and HR. Right from the start, during the recruitment and selection process of new employees, it is important to ensure that you bring in people who align with your organization. After all, it is much easier to embody and communicate core values that resonate with you. Therefore, crafting compelling job descriptions is crucial. Additionally, it is essential to incorporate brand explanation as part of the onboarding process for new employees. And this goes beyond handing them the brand document!
Internal branding: foundation for a strong brand
As you can see, building a strong brand does not happen overnight. To ensure that employees embrace and embody the brand, you need to invest in internal branding. But once you have established the foundation, your employees will be invaluable assets to your brand. It is no wonder that the famous saying in communication goes, "winning externally starts with internal beginnings."