The Power Behind Internal Branding
How Internal Branding Can Be the ROI to External Branding?
Those of us who work in the world of words and images know that to be effective in our work, we should include those closest to the brand in our research and message training. But most of us haven’t always considered our internal audience in the definition of “closest to the brand” fans.
Marketing in the past may have been able to exist without involving other business divisions, but that was pre-internet and mobile. Now content can be delivered in a blink, so to make sure our brand messaging is provided and resonates to all audiences, the way we want, it is an absolute necessity to involve internal audiences, from operations to human resources, in the brand launch. Often as marketing communications practitioners, we get caught up in our practice of “what and how to express the brand" from design to footprint, that we forgot to include, those closest to the brand (our cohorts) to the strategy table. To stand out from what others are doing, this needs to change.
The importance of branding from the inside out is an added value.
Traditionally, marketing executives have focused on developing the branding message for the external audiences, first. However, what we have learned over the last decade+ is that more times than not, the brand launch strategy should include the internal audience mindset in it thoughts as much as the external audience.
Although this applies to all aspects of brand marketing, this is particularly the case for service branding, like industries in healthcare, food, home repairs, etc. The reason is service brands rely heavily on word of mouth marketing. Think about it, pre-internet, we asked our friends and family for a recommendation, now most us use review sites like Yelp, WebMD, Angie’s list, Glassdoor and other similar sites for where to retain the best services or even work. For 2016, Yelp reported that over 73 million unique users searched their reviews, where Angie’s List grew its membership by 50% to over 5 million users in 2016. Word of Mouth marketing has become huge with the Internet. Research today shows that the #1 source for word-of-mouth marketing comes from family, friends, friends of friends as well as current and past employees.
What this is telling us as marketing professionals is that the people who know our brand best (the good and bad attributes) the ones that can give us our best direction are those that are internal. Thus why internal branding is important because it will help your external efforts, even more. Make sure your internal audience is brand educated.
Here are a few thoughts and actions to consider doing as you mind shift to incorporating internal branding, first.
Employees are your biggest and best "brand advocates." They are the ones who solidify our brand principles with every day. So help them live the brand you want them to market for you. This means give them clear communications (proof points) on what to say to help their audiences understand who you are and what you do. An example might be providing “huddle cards/pride cards” which have top line messaging and organizations most outstanding results.
Successful brand loyalty starts with involving those closest to the employees, human resources. Help the employees resonate with the brand by holding leadership-training programs that embrace the culture with the brand so that they can emulate it with their employees. Employees will most likely embrace the brand from day one, and be a better brand steward if the brand's message and attributes are communicated at employee orientation.
Brand profiling for external messaging can come from research gained from your internal resources. Take content from the open-ended employee surveys or information you gather from walking the hallways of your organization or conduct your internal annual review of the brand.
Pride in the brand is successful when your internal audience wears merchandise, bearing the brand, outside of the typical work environment. The power of branded merchandise used by your internal audience is the silent validation of your brand messaging.
I leave you with this, the most important part and the most dominant part of internal branding is clear and consistent communications. Communicating with the internal audience each step of the way will keep your brand highly regarded.