Time for a Pop-Quiz.
If you asked a handful your company’s employees to explain the story of your company’s brand and its vision for the future- would the answers be consistent? Does your culture embody the values that your marketing and sales efforts communicate to your customers? When employees talk about their jobs, do they feel they are part of a common purpose?
Often companies spend lots of money, time, and effort on external brand and marketing, but then don’t “walk the talk.” Their employees either don’t understand the company brand and what they sell, or the company culture for employees doesn’t match the promises it makes to its customers. Their internal brand is non-existent.
To add to this conundrum, companies spend equally as much time, money, and effort to improve “culture,” including employee benefits and perks that seem cool and attractive for new talent. And, while these perks probably are “cool and attractive,” they will not make your employees understand, feel and embody the company’s vision, mission and values.
In “Selling the Brand Inside”, Collin Mitchell explains that internal marketing is crucially important:
“It’s the best way to help employees make a powerful emotional connection to the products and services you sell. Without that connection employees are likely to undermine the expectations you set by your advertising…, We’ve found that when people care about and believe in the brand, they’re motivated to work harder and their loyalty to the company increases. Employees are unified and inspired by a common sense of purpose and identity.”
Those words couldn’t ring more true. Your company’s culture is reflective of how well your employees understand your brand narrative. Your employees are the face of your brand, and representatives of your company’s culture. How they interact, think, operate and work together should be in line with what you promise to your customers. If they don’t know and believe in what you offer, how can your customers?
When your Internal and External Brand work in synch- GOOD things Happen.
The opportunity for building internal brand and culture is huge for any size company. The ROI of a strong internal culture is best centered around hiring the right people and retaining the great ones. Companies that are viewed as “destinations” for talent with good culture are the ones that thrive. Not only do their employees “walk the talk” but also are the best salespeople for recruiting other well-qualified team members that embody the values of the company. In today’s age of platforms like GlassDoor, an employee can read real reviews on the culture of the organization he/she is considering. This can have a profound effect on a company’s ability to find and retain good talent.
Time to Walk the Talk.
This opportunity to strengthen internal brand can’t be ignored. If you feel that your company could benefit from a stronger internal brand (and culture), here are 5 tips that can get you started today:
- Take a Pulse: Start by creating a project plan to understand and observe the dynamics of your internal brand. Talk to the leadership team, conduct an employee survey, interview individuals from all departments and look online at what’s being said about your company. Form a small internal task force with key players from various departments to collect all observations and work to improve where needed.
- Document the Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Celebrate what’s good and don’t be afraid of bad perceptions or confusion when it comes to your company’s vision, mission or values. Those are opportunities to improve!
- Create your Brand Narrative: Every organization has a unique story- does your story inspire your employees and support your company vision? Work with your team to identify this story and shape it to inspire your team and support the values of your brand. And, don’t forget to re-tell it with every milestone you have achieved!
- Choose the Right Moment: Internal brand communications are best executed when companies are experiencing change or a challenge. If your company is experiencing none of those, create the moment with the launch of a new marketing or brand strategy. The start of a fiscal year is also a good time to consider- pair the communications with excitement around the upcoming year’s business goals.
- Don’t Just “Inform”: Communicating internal brand should be an act of persuasion, not information. Consider how you deliver the brand message to your employees- lifeless materials will sit on people’s desks. Be creative and deliver messages in the way that’s both engaging and emblematic of the culture you want to create!