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Why Internal Branding Matters

Why Internal Branding Matters

Internal branding refers to promoting a brand inside an organisation to align employees with desired brand values. It is crucial to business strategy, enabling companies to provide superior and consistent brand experiences.

When done effectively, internal branding can:

Boost Employee Engagement and Retention

  • 73% of employees who consider themselves highly engaged indicate they work at a company with a strong employer brand.
  • Turnover rates are 28% lower on average at companies with the best employer brands.

Engaged and invested employees lead to better customer experiences. By promoting the brand vision inside the company, leadership gives employees a purpose to rally behind.

Employees As Brand Ambassadors

Your employees interact with customers daily. They need to understand the brand promise to deliver it deeply. Internally marketed values empower staff to become authentic brand ambassadors.

“The employee experience drives the customer experience.”

Diane Gherson, CHRO, IBM.

Employees who connect with the brand purpose pass that energy to customers through their words and actions.

Increased Alignment and Collaboration

Brand messaging sets expectations for employees collaborating to fulfil the brand vision. It enables the alignment of objectives across the organisation.

Shared brand values facilitate better teamwork. Rather than working in silos, a compelling brand purpose helps departments cooperate seamlessly.

Deliver Superior and Reliable Brand Experiences

Retail Brand Employees

Customers expect consistent brand interactions regardless of which touchpoints they use. Internal branding facilitates this by getting all employees on the same page.

Empower Employees to Solve Problems

Well-understood brand values guide employees to resolve issues independently in a way aligned with the brand. This leads to faster, personalised solutions.

For example, Virgin Atlantic trains staff to handle complaints with personality and humour while fixing the problem. This matches their fun and friendly brand image.

Enable Quick Decision-Making

When direction stems from the brand identity, employees can make judgments confidently without constantly seeking input. This allows for agility and responsiveness.

Brand messaging gives a framework for employees to operate within when addressing emerging customer needs.

Attract and Retain Top Talent

A vital employer brand signalling purpose and values draws top-tier applicants to your company. Internal branding aims to deliver what was marketed to talent during recruitment.

Boost Employer Brand Recognition

  • 84% of talent say employer brand will impact their job choice.
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Leveraging your consumer brand makes your company stand out among other employers. Internal branding sustainably maximises employer brand recognition.

Increase Employee Pride and Advocacy

Proud employees boast about their company culture. They help spread employer brand awareness by recommending your firm to others.

  • Referred candidates are hired 3x more often than other applicants.
  • Referred employees stay longer at companies.

How to Build an Internal Branding Strategy

Importance Internal Branding

Crafting an internal branding plan requires cross-departmental collaboration to analyse the current culture and identify gaps preventing brand consistency.

Leadership Alignment on Brand Values

Without leadership modelling brand values, messaging will seem hollow to employees—executive attitudes significantly mould company culture.

“Values that do not have top-level commitment and buy-in will have little effect on organisational performance.”

Susan A. Mohrman, PhD

Cross-check brand identity statements against executive priorities and incentives. Close any misalignments before broader internal branding efforts.

Employee Surveys

Conduct organisation-wide surveys to benchmark existing perceptions of the culture and brand values. Gather data on:

  • Familiarity with brand messaging
  • Clarity on how work impacts brand delivery
  • Pride and emotional investment in the brand vision

Anonymous surveys encourage transparent feedback. Phone or in-person interviews also provide qualitative insights from various roles and levels.

Analyse results to identify weak points and opportunities related to internal branding. Build a data-driven strategy tailored to the organisation.

Sample Employee Survey Questions

  • How familiar are you with our brand values and purpose?
  • Do leaders model brand values in their decisions and actions?
  • How often do you consider our brand promise when doing your work?
  • How much autonomy do you have to resolve customer issues?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how invested do you feel in delivering our brand identity?

Audit Customer Touchpoints

Review current journey maps and branding at all customer touchpoints, including:

Look for inconsistencies with desired brand positioning. Misalignments confuse customers about what you stand for.

Facilities Audit Example

Your brand aims to be approachable and transparent. However, visitors face closed doors, imposing security, and sterile environments when entering your corporate headquarters.

This sends mixed signals compared to welcoming marketing messages. Prioritise opening reception areas and design engaging on-brand physical spaces.

Map Employee Journeys

Understand the pain points staff face trying to deliver exceptional experiences. Where do they need more skills, tools, or direction? Revise workflows to enable better living for the brand.

Also, identify moments when employees feel highly engaged with brand values. Explore how to replicate peak motivation through internal branding efforts.

New Hire Onboarding Example

Onboarding represents a significant opportunity to immerse new employees in the brand. Survey new hires on how onboarding currently provides:

  • Early exposure to brand messaging
  • Inspiration around company purpose
  • Clarity on brand values guiding day-to-day decisions
  • Equipping with skills to deliver brand promises

Shore up any weak areas to win over employees from day one.

Set Goals and KPIs

Define specific internal branding goals and metrics to track performance over time. Progress indicators may include:

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Connect internal branding analytics to broader growth KPIs like revenue and market share gains. This helps leadership connect cultural efforts to the bottom line.

Sample Internal Branding Goals

  • Improve brand awareness survey scores by 40% within two years
  • Realise 5% higher customer satisfaction ratings by Q3 2024
  • Decrease customer churn by 3% year-over-year

Executing an Internal Branding Campaign

Employee Advocacy Quote

Once analysis is complete, execute campaigns to promote brand messaging internally. Tactics should inform, inspire, teach, and celebrate the brand.

Brand Messaging Workshops

Roll out mandatory workshops explaining core brand statements like the vision, mission, values, and positioning. Ensure all employees understand what the brand stands for at a basic level.

Interactive sessions focused on translating statements into day-to-day behaviours work best to drive retention. Break into small groups and have participants share examples of living the values.

“If you think training is expensive, try ignorance.”

Derek Bok, President Emeritus, Harvard University.

Brand Ambassador Training

Identify employees in key customer-facing roles for more advanced brand ambassador training. Equip these individuals with more profound knowledge and skills to correctly embody the brand.

Emphasise experiential learning. Have trainees practice responding to problems based on the brand values to cement new reflexes.

Internal Brand Marketing

Promote core messaging creatively on internal channels. Mimic external marketing best practices to generate awareness and enthusiasm internally.

  • Hang brand vision posters in high-visibility spots
  • Design brand logos into office templates, uniforms, etc.
  • Publish newsletters and videos spotlighting wins
  • Share employee stories about the culture
  • Throw parties and events celebrating milestones

Digital Signage Example

Place monitors displaying rotating, inspiring brand content in common areas like pantries, lifts, and reception. This creates passive impressions while staff move around facilities.

Dynamic signage averaging 7 seconds per screen raised brand awareness 15% across 3 locations in an IBM study.

Leadership Storytelling

Executives and managers set the tone for authentic brand engagement through consistent storytelling. Share your own stories illustrating the vision and values.

Messages resonate most when leaders:

  • Get personal and vulnerable
  • Use vivid details
  • Express passion
  • Discuss failures overcome

This persuades employees to invest themselves in the brand's purpose.

New Initiative Kickoffs

When launching changes to deliver your brand promise, clearly state connections upfront. Employees need context on how new programs align with embedded messaging.

Explaining the big-picture vision behind organisational shifts increases buy-in and execution rates dramatically. Don’t leave folks in the dark!

Employee Rewards and Recognition

Best Employee Incentives

Spotlight teams and individuals demonstrating brand values through peer recognition programs. Praise living the brand to motivate broader adoption of desired behaviours.

Build a Brand Focused Culture

Internal branding aims to construct an organisational culture centralised around the brand identity. Cultural initiatives reinforce messaging through routines and environments.

Brand Immersion for Onboarding

Immerse new hires in the brand story early on through punchy videos and interactive e-learning modules. Set expectations that living the values will be rewarded.

Follow with structured exposure across their first 90 days:

  • Assign brand ambassador buddies
  • Send branded templates and swag
  • Share inspiring stories enterprise-wide

Physical Spaces Reflecting Brand Values

Evaluate worksite design and policies through a branding lens. Do facilities and processes reflect or detract from brand positioning?

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Open floorplans support approachable brand images, while closed doors contradict transparency. Align environments with messaging where feasible.

Listen and Evolve Messaging

Employ ongoing feedback channels to detect how internal branding performs over time. Be ready to iterate core statements based on learnings.

Pulsing Surveys

Continuous polls on current brand sentiment gauge whether employees remain invested over the years in roles. Follow-up declines with interviews on pain points.

Address emerging disconnects through renewed messaging or modified experiences.

Leadership Taking Input

Cultivate safe spaces for employees at all levels to critique branding efforts thoughtfully. Leaders openly receive feedback to signal an authentic commitment to the brand vision.

Digest constructive criticism without ego. Shape future internal campaigns based on helpful insights from staff living the identity daily.

Measuring Internal Branding Impact

Market Research Survey

Metrics assessing cultural transformation determine if internal branding successfully permeates an organisation to uplift performance.

Brand Awareness Surveys

Gauge baseline staff awareness of brand messaging when launching efforts. Re-survey annually to measure messaging sticking.

Look for rising familiarity with:

Assign targets like 30% greater recall over two years.

Brand Delivery Audits

Conduct undercover assessments of customer touchpoints to check brand delivery consistency 6 and 12 months after internal branding kickoff.

Score facets like:

  • Verbal messaging accuracy
  • Tone alignment
  • Problem resolution
  • Environment Branding

Track ratings increase in audits over time. Set goals for 20% higher consistency within the first year.

Example Audit Tool

Evaluation CriteriaScoreNotes
Employee conveyed accurate brand messaging7/10Misquoted tagline
Tone matched brand personality8/10Slightly less energetic than desired
Physical environments reinforce brand9/10Great signage!

External Brand Tracking

Ultimately, internal efforts aim to strengthen how customers perceive your brand.

Leverage surveys and brand equity studies to connect internal maturity with shifting external impressions.

Watch like metrics over 2+ years:

Isolate brand consistency improvements from other factors by tracking control groups.

Example Research Approach

  • Brand Tracker survey of 1000 customers
  • Shows brand preference rising 5% amongst those exposed to improved touchpoints
  • The control group lacking exposure up only 2%
  • Internal branding credited for a 3% gain

Positive lifts indicate initiatives take hold externally as internally aligned cultures shine through.

Sustaining Momentum Long-Term

How To Treat Employees Tips

The most fatal mistake for internal branding is a lack of follow-through. Initial campaigns fade as leaders shift focus to the next pressing priority.

However, branding fundamentally shapes corporate culture – a long game requiring perseverance.

Here are the best practices for ingraining brand values over time.

Build for New Hires

given the average turnover rate of about 19%, your company's staff makeup constantly evolves. Bake messaging into materials and activities seen by every new employee.

Expand brand delivery criteria in recruitment, onboarding, training, and orientation processes. Set the tone from day one.

Example Welcome Pack

Mail welcome packs to newly hired employees containing:

  • Branded notebooks, pens, apparel
  • Hard copies of the vision statement
  • Handwritten cards from the CEO and their direct manager

Following up with weekly brand refresher emails for the first 90 days sustains momentum.

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Leadership Development

Include brand values and culture stewardship in the criteria for appointing senior leaders and managers—task rising stars with exemplifying messaging.

Equip people leaders with coaching skills to advance the brand. Empower them to recognise and redirect teams in alignment regularly.

Manager Brand Report Cards

Evaluate middle managers partly on team brand delivery using metrics like:

  • Average training attendance
  • Recognition program participation
  • Anonymous staff brand surveys

This motivates closer monitoring and role modelling of desired behaviours across sites—reward standout culture champions.

Budget for Ongoing Internal Marketing

Maintain a sufficient budget for permanent brand messaging via platforms like:

  • Digital signage
  • Internal social channels
  • Newsletters
  • Event programming

When leadership priorities shift, consistent internal marketing resources prevent losing steam.

Always-On Channel Example

Launch internal Slack or Workplace groups for employees to discuss the brand's purpose and culture regularly.

Integrate chatbot polls and vision statement quizzes and avoid pure announcements to drive organic adoption and long-term engagement.

Conclusion

Internal branding builds a unified workforce that delivers superior, recognisable customer experiences. It boosts talent attraction and retention. Companies invest in culture branding to align employees to values, ensuring reliable brand promises.

Leadership modelling and persistent internal marketing transform staff into passionate brand ambassadors. However, organisations need data-driven strategies accounting for current perceptions and journeys.

Customised branding campaigns, role-based training, rewards programs and feedback channels promote sustainable adoption of desired behaviours. The brand vision must ultimately steer decisions company-wide.

With ongoing effort, the brand identity is a guiding force bettering teamwork, agility, and engagement over the long haul. Employees will independently resolve issues and introduce improvements from a place of clarity and shared purpose.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key differences between external and internal branding?

External branding targets customers to establish your brand image in the marketplace. Internal branding focuses on employees to align their behaviours, knowledge, skills, and values to deliver the external brand consistently.

Which metrics best indicate internal branding success?

Key performance indicators include brand awareness scores, employee NPS, customer satisfaction gains, brand delivery audits, and employee churn rate reductions.

How can I secure executive-level support for internal branding efforts?

Connect data from staff surveys and brand experience audits to revenue growth potential. Estimate gains from boosting retention rates, customer lifetime values and brand affinity. Calculate the hard ROI for culture initiatives.

Should internal branding replicate external messaging?

The brand vision and values driving external positioning should also cascade through internal communications. However, adapt terminology and success stories presented to employees to resonate with day-to-day functions and pain points. Make messaging relevant across the organisation.

How can remote/hybrid workers get immersed in internal branding?

Provide welcome packages with branded apparel, use digital signage visibility, share video success stories recognisably, leverage instant messaging to foster informal brand conversations and reroute individuals struggling with alignment.

Photo of author

Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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