Internal Branding – Engage your employees and supercharge your brand’s performance

According to Gallup, engaged workplaces experience a 147% higher earnings per share compared to their competition. That’s a pretty compelling number, yet employee engagement isn’t often high on the agenda of most businesses, particularly small to medium size enterprises. I suspect this is the case because they’re not sure what they can do to effect employee engagement other than with bigger carrots and sticks, but as Daniel Pink sets out in his brilliant book ‘Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us‘ carrots and sticks can have the opposite effect on behaviour than you might think.

So how can you improve employee engagement? By focussing some effort and investment on Internal Branding, which I mentioned in my first post of 2015 as the biggest branding opportunity I see for my clients this year.

So what is internal branding?

When most people think of branding efforts they think of them in relation to building brand value or perception externally – with customers, clients or the public outside of the organisation. But what about ‘customers’ inside the brand? The internal customers are your employees who are responsible for the brand experience – and ultimately for profits.

As Joey Reiman puts it in his great book The Story of Purpose: The Path to Creating a Brighter Brand, a Greater Company, and a Lasting Legacy
“Businesses are a collection of assets… and people. Unify them with common purpose and you get excellence.”

Internal branding is an investment in a company’s most important asset. An effort to ensure crystal clear understanding of the brand in the minds of those people who are responsible for its success, so they are emotionally connected to the goal and purpose of the organisation. Clarity is powerful. It breeds confidence. Employees perform better and deliver higher levels of customer satisfaction when they understand their part in the bigger picture.

Internal branding drives culture. Culture is what makes a company come alive. Culture starts with values, which is why they are such an important part of Di Marca’s Brand Bulls Eye.

“Values are assets. Lived every day, they have the ability to guide us and inspire us as well as others… They steady companies during turbulent times and plot the best course in good times.”

Values are where a brand’s reputation is forged. Values drive behaviour, behaviour drives customer experience, and customer experience drives the business!

The Ingredients
The path to improved employee engagement begins with…you guessed it; a crystal clear strategy for your brand.

1. A very simple and focussed set of business objectives – a clear business goal towards which you are heading, a compelling purpose that gets everyone out of bed in the morning, and a set of business guidelines for which you stand for.

2. A succinct value proposition that everyone in the organisation understands. A good value proposition will wrap together the essence of the goal and purpose of the business into something that is of value to customers.

3. A set of clear and powerful values. Values are the beliefs and guiding principals that bring every brand to life by driving behaviour.

4. A powerful brand essence that ties together the most important parts of all of the above into one crystal clear and singular idea.

Once the organisation has clear strategy that is documented for everyone to see, the purpose of an internal branding program is to get your employees engaged in that strategy. Engaged emotionally.

Inclusivity is key to internal branding. Participation and internal dialogue are better than commandments, directives or policies ‘from management’.

An easy way to begin is to engage your team in developing a set of specific behaviours that will bring the brand values to life in their department or area. Get everyone to list one thing that could be implemented to bring to life more of the brand’s essence in the company. Create communications (posters, flyers, booklets and reference materials) so that your team has the necessary tools to really understand and BE the brand. Develop activities and opportunities for them to contribute positively to the organisations culture.

Why? The benefits from internal branding are huge.

An inspired and aligned team performs better. Inspiration comes from a clear and powerful purpose. As Gallup correctly points out “When employees are engaged, they are passionate, creative, and entrepreneurial, and their enthusiasm fuels growth. These employees are emotionally connected to the mission and purpose of their work. When employees are not engaged, they are indifferent toward their jobs — or worse, outright hate their work, supervisor, and organization — and they will destroy a work unit and a business.”

You may have heard the famous story of when JFK visited the NASA space centre in 1962, and he encountered a janitor there. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?” The janitor responded, “I’m helping put a man on the moon, Mr. President.”

That’s the type of powerful engagement that only comes from a clear and understood sense of purpose.

When everyone in an organisation feels a part of something larger than themselves and understands the big picture, that’s when you’re on the way to the moon together.

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