Internal branding. It’s often maligned and misunderstood in part because it’s done poorly. Look first at who’s often driving internal branding efforts and you understand why the results are typically less than they should be.
Done well, internal branding is a powerful and proven strategy to drive engagement and the behaviors leaders want inside organizations, especially as it relates to a company’s ability to deliver on its brand promise.
Your Employees Decide the "Moment of Truth"
It’s your employees at the front lines who decide at the “moment of truth” whether they will deliver what you’ve promised to your customers or not. Most organizations spend millions on marketing the promise, yet very little on ensuring that the reality of the experience matches the promise. Once again the employee audience is virtually forgotten except to hail the coming of a new advertising and marketing campaign.
What your customer experiences, especially in service industries, depends on a number of factors, none as critical as an employee’s level of engagement. Are they willing and equipped to deliver? Do they know how to resolve issues in ways that are consistent with the brand? All this is dependent on whether an employee understands what’s expected of him or her and the specific behaviors needed to meet customer expectations. In almost all cases – as our research and work shows – few organizations have defined the behaviors and daily actions needed, aligned the performance management systems to these key behaviors, and communicated all this effectively to employees (not to mention ensuring leaders at all levels model these behaviors).
If you’re looking to improve your engagement and business results, here are 10 must-haves for successful internal branding efforts:
1. Ground your work in measurable, specific business outcomes; examples could include a percentage increase in employee retention, productivity or customer satisfaction ratings.
2. Help key stakeholders know the difference between branding and internal branding, and how they work together by sharing case studies and stories of how employees are “living” the brand.
3. Ensure there’s an understanding of how the employee audience is significantly different from external stakeholders by illustrating how individuals and teams at all levels of the organization link to a brand promise regardless of how “far removed” they may think they are from a customer.
4. Engage leadership during all steps, and especially to define the behaviors and daily actions needed to deliver on your brand promise and be certain to link these activities back to key measurable objectives.
5. Think beyond the logo; internal branding is so much more. What is the employee experience from the first day forward? What are the similarities or differences based on levels in the organization? What are an employee’s opportunities for growth and development related to the brand promise?
6. Real change requires commitment and alignment across functions by taking both 50,000 foot and ground level perspectives, then striking a good balance and always considering how one action impacts another.
7. Have a strong message platform focused on the behaviors needed before diving into tactics because actions should drive channels, not vice versa.
8. Tools aren’t enough; training, accountability and measurement are key to helping leaders drive change and reach desired results.
9. Integrate the behaviors into the performance development system so the right actions are reinforced and rewarded; create specific examples and case studies to help explain what’s expected.
10. Remember, smart people have been here before; respect this reality and know that the knowledge you need is in your organization. Ensure you have the right people partnering with you for a successful effort.
Are you seeing a gap today between your brand promise and what your employees deliver?
Click below to download—The Leader Differential: 5 Steps to Thrive—and get essential tips for connecting and communicating with employees to achieve measurable, meaningful growth.