Your brand may be beautiful, but at the end of the day, it’s the inside that counts. It’s all about how your internal processes interact and most importantly how your internal branding actions reflect your external branding processes.
By, as we like to say, building your brand from the inside out, you’ll achieve a stronger and more distinct brand, and your employees will be unstoppable brand advocates.
But what exactly is internal branding and how can you get started today? Hang on and we’ll serve you with some tips on your way.
First of all: What is internal branding?
New words and expressions are constantly appearing in the marketing world. Some of which we embrace, others we let pass and just pretend we understand even though it might not be true. Words are often known as buzzwords, but there are some there are worth paying attention to and getting a better understanding of. Especially those that provide your company with a competitive advantage.
What is it then?
Internal branding is the reasoning behind building your brand from the inside out. Hence the importance of connecting your employees to the brand strategy. Remember, these are the people that live and breathe your brand every single day. But are you aware of how they communicate your brand? Do they know the brand values, and are they familiar with the associated guidelines? Only concentrating your brand efforts around market initiatives is simply not enough. If your employees are not playing on your team, it is hard to control consistency. Consequently, internal branding should weigh heavily on the decisions concerning brand management.
And what are brand advocates?
You may have caught this phrase initially. If you don’t know the meaning, we owe you an explanation. A brand advocate or a brand ambassador is a person who reflects your brand positively with the purpose of increasing brand awareness and sales.
Perhaps one of your clients, an agency you hire or who we mean is the most important brand ambassadors, the employees in your company.
The fact is: our jobs consume many hours of our day, and naturally we become brand representatives even when we are not at work.
Even though small talk isn’t for everyone, we bet that everyone has had to answer the commonly asked question: What do you do for work? A question that has saved many awkward silent moments. This is one of the settings where a brand ambassador could potentially pass on positive brand associations to their counterpart.
This form of communication may also lead to increased sales. According to a study, 93% trust recommendations or information about a brand that derives from friends or family above any other channel or advertising.
This is exactly why employees are the most important brand ambassadors – both a powerful and reliable source, as well as a free advertising channel.
Does my company need internal ambassadors?
The short answer is yes, but let us rephrase the question: Do I need a competitive advantage in a competitive market? Almost everyone would probably say “yes, please!”. Most markets are becoming fiercer, and it is becoming increasingly harder to stand out.
If you want to achieve growth, you need to initiate and take advantage of any option available. Avoid putting employees aside. As a reliable source, they might end up turning the scale in your favour in a decision-making process. So yes, your company needs it’s employees on it’s side.
Branding starts with your employees
If you manage to motive your employees and establish great brand advocates, the advantages you get will elevate your business. But how do you get started? Here’s a short list:
- Identify the different roles within your company. Identify the different positions within your company and how each communicates the brand with potential clients. For sure, there will be a difference in how customer service communicates compared to for example sales.
- Research how your brand and company are communicated today. If your employees are unsatisfied and do not care about your company, you can forget about team play. The will to advocate brand pride and positive brand associations needs to exist from the beginning. Therefore, map up the current status and avoid surprises.
- Map up how you best utilise the employee voices. First and foremost, make sure the employees are comfortable being a voice, and find out how they wish to communicate. Then establish a tone of voice that fits their position.
- Secure reliable internal communication. Communication is key in conveying your brand internally, but that alone is not enough. Employees come and go and your communication goes at the door with them. How you choose to communicate is therefore essential. Make sure you have a platform to communicate your brand from. A reliable and always updated source.
- Include and educate. With proper processes for including and educating employees, you make sure your employees understand the brand and its’ purpose, as well as the importance of consistent branding and the employee’s contribution in that area.
- Evaluate. There is no point in initiating efforts if there is no evaluation of the performance. Are the employees communicating as intended? Do they still believe in the brand, and are the brand guidelines being followed?
Are online brand identity guidelines the solution?
Establishing a strong and distinct brand does not happen overnight. Securing a consistent brand in all channels, platforms and markets is challenging, but a proper brand management system that allows for secure sharing and distribution of the brand guidelines is a good start.