In our last post, we talked about the difference between “corporate brands” and “sub brands”. The main aim of building a brand is customer focus, which basically means the organisation needs to focus on customers. Previously, we also discussed the difference between “brand identity” and “brand image”, e.g. the brand image is how people perceive you and the brand identity relates to how you build your brand using your “brand attributes”. You cannot control your brand image, but you can manage your brand identity.
In this post, we will look at how you can build and deliver brand attributes internally. We will discuss how you can try to align your brand image in your customers’ minds close to the brand identity you are trying to create for your employees and stakeholders. Therefore, we will look at the following:
What is “internal branding”?
Why is “internal branding” so important?
How do you build an “internal brand”?
Internal branding is a cultural shift
Within an organisation, internal branding is a cultural change, where employees become more customer focused and more business focused. This is usually achieved through a combination of communications and behaviour-driven processes, with the aim of creating a shift in the organisation’s culture. The main challenges tend to be getting buy in from employees – why should they feel incentivised to move into this new culture? The more ‘signed up’ your employees are to the cultural change, the better. Research shows that effective internal branding leads to big benefits. If your people understand how they fit into the organisation in terms of operations and making money, the greater they will perform in their roles. There is a direct relationship between good performance and high customer satisfaction.
“Your brand is a story unfolding across all customer touchpoints”
Internal branding is vital for success
Effective internal branding will help your employees commit to your cultural change and your customers will reap the rewards. This is where your brand image begins to align with your brand identity as both your people and your customers begin to share a similar perception of your organisation. Ultimately, the ideal result is where your brand image is the same - or as close to - your brand identity in both your customers’ and employees’ minds. Therefore, your customers will show loyalty by understanding and buying into your brand.
However, herein lies a common issue faced by organisations: if you only rely on external communications such as advertising, etc. whilst not delivering on what you ‘promised’ through your external communications, you’ll be seen as ‘cheating’ or ‘lying’ in the minds of your customers. Therefore, delivering on the ‘promise’ is very important indeed.
How do you build an “internal brand”?
Building a brand is a long-term process. Everyone in the organisation needs to be on board. We have outlined a few steps below, as well as sharing some top tips for you to consider:
Build your vision and strategy at management level.
Educate and communicate the brand vision and strategy internally.
Create a customer focused culture within your organisation.
Ensure everyone is living the brand.
Top tips for addressing and embrace people’s concerns and rejections:
“I don’t work in the brand department” – everyone is part of the brand. The brand department should help everyone within the organisation and outside of the organisation to understand what the brand stands for.
“I am too busy” – branding should not be in addition to what you do in your day to day work. It should be an integral part of everyone’s day to day work.
Use creative ways to engage people - e.g. hold a quiz, plan a brand week, internal ‘desk-drop’ campaigns, social competitions, awards, and nominate brand ambassadors, etc. Give people ownership of your brand and they will support your vision.
Changing your culture
To conclude, changing the mindset of your employees to become more customer focused relies on effective internal branding. They need to know exactly what your brand stands for, how they can contribute and how they can ‘live the brand’. Everyone needs to feel part of the new culture in order to support your brand.
We hope you have found this article interesting - for more information on this topic, please visit our All About Branding pages.
If you have any questions relating to this blog, or you need advice on internal branding, then please feel free to contact me.