When it comes to branding, most businesses focus on their external efforts. How can I get customers to buy more/sign up/use our product? Do we look good? Are we on-trend? But what about your internal branding?
Your employees are your most valuable asset, and if they don’t believe in your core brand, your raison d’être, your customers won’t either.
When you align employee values with your company values, you create a strong culture and a powerful message that begins in the very heart of your company.
To help you get started on your internal branding journey, here are some tips.
What is internal branding?
Internal branding is the process of aligning employee values with your company’s values. It’s about creating a culture where everyone is working toward the same goal. Employees know what the business is out to achieve and, therefore, have a better understanding of their roles.
When you have a strong internal brand, employees will be more engaged, productive, and committed to your company. And when your employees love your company, they’ll be more likely to stay with you for the long run.
Unfortunately, most businesses are pretty bad at internal branding. Information gets handed out via dry emails and memos. Onboarding materials equal dull printouts and slideshows. Newsletters are unnecessarily formal…
But it doesn’t need to be this way.
By applying the same principles to internal branding as to external branding, employers can guide employees toward a better understanding of the business and its mission. You might even inspire a real passion for the brand, which is something that can come across in employees’ work and reach your customers.
Just think of those super-enthusiastic Apple store workers or the folks who work at LUSH. Their energy and enthusiasm are infectious, and it’s hard not to be a little interested in the products as a result.
What are the benefits of strong internal branding?
When you have a strong internal brand, your employees feel like they’re part of something larger than themselves. They’ll be more engaged in their work and more likely to stay with your company for the long run.
A workforce that sings your praises from the rooftops is a powerful marketing tool — and one that can have a real impact on your bottom line. Here are some of the key benefits:
- Engaged workers are good workers, which contributes to a better product.
- Happy workers are easier to retain and contribute to strong company culture.
- Internal branding that matches external marketing means a unified message to the world.
- Happy employees tend to be more productive, and that can have a direct impact on your bottom line.
What happens when you don’t have strong internal marketing?
The consequences of weak or nonexistent internal branding are many and varied, but some of the most common problems include:
- Misaligned employees who are working against your company’s goals
- Poor employee morale and unengaged workers
- Negative word-of-mouth criticism of your company
- Staff who are unsure of the benefits of your brand or business, and therefore, can’t sell it
- Lackluster work and external promotion because employees don’t understand or believe in what they’re doing
- High staff turnover due to widespread job dissatisfaction
Tips for creating a strong internal brand
Internal branding is essential to the success of any company. Here are some best practices to help you develop a strategy that works!
1. Define your company values
The first step to creating a strong internal brand is to define your company values. Think about what your company stands for. What are your core beliefs? When employees (and customers) hear your company name, what thoughts and impressions do you want them to have?
If you don’t have a clear idea of your company’s values, it’ll be difficult to create a strong internal brand.
2. Create a mission statement
Now, it’s time to put your ‘why’ into a meaningful mission statement. A mission statement is a sentence or two about what your company wants to do. It’s a way to focus your efforts and ensure everyone is working toward the same goal.
For example, Nike’s mission statement is “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” This simple sentence captures what Nike is about: helping people achieve their potential through sports.
Don’t worry if you can’t come up with the perfect mission statement immediately. You can always revise it as your company grows and changes.
Here are a few examples of famous company mission statements.
- Amazon: “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
- Google: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
- Facebook: “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”
3. Communicate your company’s story
Too often, companies focus on the what (we sell X product) without ever communicating the why (we’re passionate about making a difference in the world).
Make sure employees know your company’s story and that it’s one they can believe in and get behind. Strong internal communication is a must, as you’ll need leaders who can clearly articulate this brand message enthusiastically. You’ll also need to create documents, posters, and other supporting materials.
4. Get everyone involved
Your internal branding efforts will be much more effective if you involve as many people as possible. From the top down, everyone should be on board with your company’s mission and values.
Encourage employees to share their own stories about why they joined the company and what it means to them. Ask for feedback on how you can improve internal communications. And make sure everyone knows about (and is using) the tools and resources you’ve created to help build your brand.
5. Make it part of your day-to-day operations
Internal branding should be more than just a one-time effort. It should be something you’re always working on and integrating into your day-to-day operations.
For example, you can use internal branding to help new employees adjust to your company culture. You can support charities or host events to engage employees and local communities. You can offer staff discounts on your products to create a more positive work environment and encourage employees to live your values.
Basically, find out what works for your company, and keep building on it.
6. Link internal and external branding
Your internal and external branding efforts should be closely linked. After all, your employees are the face of your company to the outside world. If they’re not on board, it’ll be difficult to build a strong reputation with customers and other stakeholders.
There are a few ways you can link your internal and external branding efforts:
- Make your website, Intranet, and other marketing materials reflect your company values.
- Train your employees on how to represent your brand to the outside world.
- Carry branding across from external marketing to internal communications. This could include brand colors, fonts, logos, tone of voice, and more.
- Offer staff discounts, so workers can benefit from your products in their own lives and be ambassadors.
7. Make internal branding part of your onboarding process
Onboarding is the process of orienting and acclimating new employees to your company. And it’s a great opportunity to instill those core values from the get-go. Here are some tips on how to do this:
Share your company’s story
Make sure new employees know your company’s story and why it exists. Do this via a talk from the boss, presentations, videos, or chats with existing employees. Get as creative as you like.
Immerse them in your company culture
Help new employees understand your company culture by immersing them in it. Share stories about your company’s history and successes. Take them out with the team for coffee, drinks, or a lunch session. Perhaps, even organize an orientation event for new employees.
Explain your company values
Make sure new employees know what your company values mean and how they can help you achieve them. To do this, you need to determine how their job fits into the bigger picture. Explain how their work contributes to your company’s mission, and give new employees the resources to be successful. This includes everything from company policies to workplace contact information for their co-workers.
8. Choose your moment carefully
You don’t need to wait for a big event or launch to start internal branding. You can (and should) start working on it now.
But exercise caution: people are resistant to change. So, if you start shaking things up during moments of high stress (like a global pandemic or recession), you’re likely to face more resistance.
9. Start small and build momentum
You don’t need to make sweeping changes to start internal branding. In fact, it’s often better to start small and build momentum.
There are certain moments when internal branding can be especially impactful. For example, if you’re launching a new product or service, you can use internal branding to help employees understand and get excited about it.
Internal branding is also useful for supporting other changes in your company, like a rebranding effort or a shift in company culture.
10. Set up an employee recognition program
Employee recognition is a great way to show everyone you value their contributions. It’s also a great way to reinforce your company values.
Consider setting up an employee recognition program that rewards team members for living your company values. It can be as simple as a monthly award for applying values to work or a spot bonus for going above and beyond.
11. Use tech and tools that reflect your company culture
The technology you use can say a lot about your company culture. These days, there’s no excuse not to have a variety of tools at your disposal. From chat apps to project management tools, there’s a platform for every work need.
When choosing tools for your business, consider whether or not they reflect your company culture.
For example, if you’re a start-up with a young team, you might want to consider chat platforms. Younger workers tend to prefer a casual interface that allows emojis, GIFs, and informal discussion. And don’t forget to use it to promote your brand values via groups and pinned guidelines!
Meanwhile, if you’re a company that prides itself on worker autonomy, you’ll want to give remote or hybrid teams project management tools to help them manage their work.
Internal branding is an important part of any business. Yet, it’s often overlooked. By following these tips and choosing collaboration tech to help your team, you can ensure employees live and breathe your company values — from the moment they step through the door.