We are all familiar with the concept of external branding. Emails, billboards, radio ads and even our favorite coffee mugs are continually bombarding us with value statements and taglines. We understand why this is happening. Businesses are looking to shape our perception of their brand and drive us to a desired behavior.
Internal branding is very similar except that the brand’s message is directed to its own workforce to shape their perception towards the brand and drive a desired behavior. But why would an organization need to market itself to itself?
Scarlett Surveys defines employee engagement as “an individual’s degree of positive or negative emotional attachment to their organization, their job and their colleagues.” For any organization to be successful today, an engaged workforce is imperative.
Why? A recent study by The Forum found a direct link between employee engagement, customer satisfaction and an organization’s bottom line. To paraphrase the report, all employees influence the behavior and attitudes of customers, even those employees who are not customer-facing. Customers who receive exceptional service from employees continue to purchase and can increase business through recommendations and referrals.
Engagement goes beyond job satisfaction and motivation. It’s an alignment between an individual’s goals and values and those of their employer. It assures that all levels of the organization are moving in unison towards the same outcome. To achieve that alignment, those goals and values need to be well communicated throughout the organization - hence the need for internal branding.
Internal and external branding are not mutually exclusive as core values of an organization transcend internal and external audiences. Since the customer’s experience is the strongest driver of their perception of the brand, employees are on the front line of external marketing and brand building. Thus, internal branding, as a driver of engagement, affects external branding.
So what does internal branding look like? Since communicating values is a key driver of engagement, a marketing communications plan that uses newsletters, email, posters, and other content to promote those important values is a good start. Promotional products, particularly ones that fit well within the workspace or daily routine, act as a continual reminder of the internal branding message.
Recognition programs are one of the most effective internal branding tools as they positively reinforce behaviors that align with corporate values and expectations. Through these programs, employees understand their objectives and know that their supervisors notice and appreciate their efforts. By rewarding service anniversaries, safety performance or sales achievement, for example, values are communicated on a personal and emotional level.
If you want more information on the importance of employee engagement and internal branding, check out the great video below from our friends at Crystal D. They are a supplier of recognition awards and their awards coach, David Saatzer, introduced me to the term “internal branding.” Enjoy.