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Living the Brand: Developing an Internal Branding Campaign (Part 2)

Now that you know how important it is to make employees ambassadors of your brand, the next step is to develop an internal brand campaign.  If what you communicate externally isn’t understood internally, how do you build a company that lives what it does? More importantly, how then do you commit employees to emulate the brand and become your company’s greatest advocates?

One of the most important aspects to the success of a company often starts from within. Employees who know your business and who understand the roles they play in helping it achieve its goals are thereby motivated to help the company succeed. It is essential that you explore strategies and tactics to increasing employees’ understanding of who and what the company does, educating them around your services and then focusing on short and long term action plans to increase awareness and engage employees to live the brand characteristics and core values.

Help your employees articulate your brand promise, by beginning with these steps:

Step 1: Marketing is Your BFF
Marketing and internal communications can sometimes have a tenuous relationship. But this is the time for these two organizations to become BFFs. Work with the marketing team to determine the key external messages, and internalize those key messages into a primary message that is broad enough to resonate with employees, and structure that message into easy-to-understand formats. Review the external brand creatives and determine what components parlay into internal communication pieces that educate employees on the solutions your company offers as well as the products that support those services.

Determine what your employees already know, and, more importantly, if what they know is what you WANT them to know. Focus groups and surveys are essential for establishing a baseline. In this same vein, your collected data can segment which functional areas of your organization know what. That is, you might assume that your IT organization knows more about your networking services; whereas they might not have extensive knowledge regarding your collaboration solutions.

Step 2: What is Your Rallying Cry?
Once you’ve identified the core message, communicate that message in compelling and fun methods that get your employees to embrace the message.  Get your leadership to cry the loudest! Your senior leaders should be the loudest spokespeople for your internal brand through all established communication channels.

Create a tagline that will resonate with them (and most importantly, remember), and align this tagline with your core business values and  integrate it into talent acquisition and talent development initiatives. One of the best uses of a tagline within an internal brand campaign is Dell’s “Be the Reason” campaign.

Dell's "Be the Reason" internal brand campaign

Step 3: Resonate, Reinforce and Reflect
Make your internal brand resonate with your employees, by using your internal channels to reinforce and explain the values and behaviors that reflect your brand promise. Create secondary, targeted messages for your functional groups, so that each area understands how their slice of the pie contributes to the company as a whole.

Integrate your internal brand through all employee touchpoints so that new and current employees can become familiar with the internal brand to the point that it becomes second nature. Include the internal brand into your talent acquisition processes by including it in new employee orientation. For current employees, develop training sessions that are informational, yet fun,  and tie the training to the employee’s performance plan.

If you think that your employees are not a reflection of your business, don’t forget the story of the employee who, while working for one wireless provider, was observed to be using the wireless solutions provided by the competitor. While it seems small, the silent statement behind this lack of endorsement speaks volumes… if employees don’t understand or don’t believe in their company’s products and solutions, why should anyone else? Give your employees a reason to live the brand.

(Contributors: S. Dougherty and A. Bourque)

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5 thoughts on “Living the Brand: Developing an Internal Branding Campaign (Part 2)”

  1. You made some great points about how a company needs to look inside as well as outside. The part I disagree with is that, it is not about leadership “crying the loudest,” it is about leadership LISTENING the most. Most of the time it is the crying and lack of action or listening that gets companies into trouble.

    As with what is working in marketing, the same applies to internal communications. When a company listens to their employees to learn what is working, not working, what can be improved, how to communicate something–that is when a company is able to build that strong internal culture, which then reflects on its brand.

    Yes leadership needs to stand behind and promote any internal campaign, but it is more important that they listen and respond to what resonates with their employees. If the message does not resonate with the employees it will go no further than leadership’s babble.

    1. Hi Mel — thanks for your comment!! I saw your comment when you first submitted it, and meant to respond earlier — sorry about that! Anyway, I absolutely agree that leadership must be willing to LISTEN to their employees….not doing so contributes to all the things that we’ve heard about for a long time: decreased engagement, decreased retention, etc.

      I think the point I was trying to make about “crying the loudest” was speaking more about them being the loudest evangelists of the brand to drive company attitudes, beliefs, actions and values — that when employees see their leadership “living the brand,” it helps to bridge that “engagement gap” between the overall goals of the organization and building a culture that effectively channels employee effort to enhance performance.

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