When one mentions branding, one usually thinks of how a company markets itself to its customers and other stakeholders. However, there’s another market that institutions should not take for granted: the workforce.
Internal branding involves an organisation’s effort to connect its team members with its external brand. This means demonstrating to the team what the brand means for them to understand and believe in the company vision.
Why is internal branding so important? First, internal branding is the best way for employees to have a powerful emotional connection to the products or services that the company sells. Without that emotional tie, team members are most likely to undermine the expectations set by the company’s advertising efforts.
When employees genuinely believe in the brand, they become potent advocates that can provide valuable insight to outsiders. It is not uncommon for customers to consult with a company’s employees to get their perspective on the company’s products or services. Thus, the brand’s external branding is reinforced by the team.
Unfortunately, most companies are unsuccessful in their internal branding efforts. This can be stemmed from the fact that the people tasked with internal communications, human resources professionals, don’t have the marketing skills to communicate effectively. Moreover, most of the branding budget usually goes to external branding efforts.
While there’s nothing wrong with a robust external branding campaign, starting from within can help you reap impressive results. Having a formidable internal branding strategy can strengthen external branding efforts. When the workforce is aligned with the organisation’s vision, they can become effective ‘ambassadors’ that embody company values.
A company with a formidable internal branding strategy paves the way for success. Here are a few examples of companies with strong internal branding that can serve as inspiration:
Adobe is a multinational software company that allows people to create, edit and share documents online. Adobe has been successful in turning its employees into brand ambassadors through an endeavor called the Social Shift Program. This campaign educates the company’s employees on their social media guidelines, best practices, and the like.
30% of Adobe’s employees worldwide have been trained, and more people have become fearless when sharing information about the company online. Essentially, Adobe proactively empowers its people to be vocal about what it’s like to work there. In turn, more people have aspired to join and stay in the Adobe workforce.
Apple is an American multinational technology company focusing on online services, consumer electronics, and software. The company is known for ushering in new technologies that have revolutinised the world. To continuously foster innovation, Apple has instilled the message to its employees that being part of Apple is being part of something bigger than themselves.
Aside from driving innovation, Apple is notorious for being very secretive to the point that its employees tend to keep their employment at Apple a secret. Moreover, secrecy wasn’t just extended to the public. It was reinforced within the Apple campus too. During orientation, new hires are told they aren’t allowed to talk internally or externally about what they are working on unless it is a need-to-know situation. This company culture has paved the way for Apple to continuously launch revolutionary products that the world admires to this day.
International Business Machines Corporation, commonly known as IBM, is an American technology company that supplies information technology hardware, software, and services. When IBM launched its e-business campaign in 1997, the company spent a lot of time and resources ensuring its workforce was aligned with the new campaign. Before making the world believe that the internet was the future of technology, IBM started imbibing the idea with its employees.
IBM ensured that its workforce genuinely believed the company was paving the way for e-business to affect everyone’s way of life. IBM’s internal branding efforts revolutionised how its employees perceived everything they did. This change included how they named products and approached selling these offerings. This campaign was successful because it gave employees a sense of purpose and direction. In turn, IBM was able to position itself as a company with the ability to predict the future and lead the technology industry.
Miller Brewing Company
Miller is an American brewery and beer company famous for its iconic beers. Through an in-depth study, Miller learned that its employees took great pride in its brewing tradition. Stories mythologised this tradition that its founder Frederick Miller carried the yeast in his pocket from Germany in 1855.
In turn, Miller developed a highly successful internal branding campaign celebrating employees’ passion for great beer. Giant posters were decorated in breweries, depicting employees as company heroes. The company also distributed materials such as a book highlighting the vocation of brewing and t-shirts with the ‘I Make Miller Time’ slogan. This campaign instilled an immense sense of pride in employees to brew world-class beers the world enjoys to this day.
Internal first, external next
The companies mentioned prove that starting branding efforts from within can yield great results. When an organisation ensures everyone on the team is aligned with its vision, the team can work together to strengthen external branding strategies.
These companies each have a unique internal branding process. The common denominator is that they highlight authenticity and investing in their people. They have spent years developing solid programs that reflect company values and provide their teams with the support they need.
Developing a formidable internal branding plan takes time and effort. With the help of an internal branding agency, you can create a more robust company culture and get everyone involved. When your people genuinely believe in your brand, you have a better chance of encouraging customers to believe in you.
Hence, you must invest in your employees to boost your external branding efforts. When both internal and external branding efforts coincide, you create a strong company branding that sets you apart from other companies.