Most of the time, companies worry about building their reputation in the eyes of their audience and their customers. Naturally, they want to earn their customers’ trust and their long-lasting loyalty in the face of growing competition in their market. What they often forget is that their employees and their partners are a part of that audience, and even if they might not be their clients and customers, their brand will forever remain incomplete if they build it only with that celebrated customer-centric mindset. It’s a great mindset, but only partially so.
Enter: internal branding, your complementary strategy to the one that you already have and that focuses on creating your external image in the eyes of your consumers. Internal branding has been in use for decades now, by companies that understand the importance of how their employees perceive the company and how they are connected by those shared values and purpose. Here are a few tips to make it easier for you to launch an internal branding strategy to boost that in-house connection among your teams and ensure employee retention and loyalty alongside a stronger reputation in your industry.
Empower your employees to participate
You know the market, your business is your legacy and your invention, so you feel responsible for all the key branding decisions to shape your company’s identity. That tidbit of truth aside, would you ever create a brand that doesn’t take its customers’ preferences and views into account? As a business leader and an owner, you know that research is the foundation of all of your major decisions and business endeavors. Your branding is data-driven for crafting that perfect external identity to communicate your values to your customers successfully.
The same principle applies to your internal branding strategy. Your employees’ input is as vital as that of your customers. They are the ones whom you want to inspire to come back to the office, preferably with a smile on their faces, every Monday morning. They are the ones who communicate your brand to your customers and your partners. Simply put, their opinions matter. Let them be active members of the internal branding strategy, and let their voices be heard.
Show your employees that you care
Your employees will care only as much as you do. You cannot expect them to be overly eager about their jobs and responsibilities when you provide a subpar work culture, hire on a whim, or provide no benefits and incentives for their contribution. Details matter greatly in such environments, and your brand identity should also revolve around making your employees happy, engaged, and productive.
To achieve that, you need to personalize your efforts and make every incentive count. A simple way to do that is to use personalised payroll cards for delivering their salaries, which will not just be a practical way for them to have faster access to their earnings, but a seamless way to connect them to your brand. It’s a systematic way to implement personalization, so that you can take your efforts to the next level and then provide them with personalized rewards for their achievements. That should be a part of your internal branding strategy from the get-go as a key method to inspire your teams to stay true to your brand.
Define your brand’s values
It’s not about citing your brand’s mission and vision statement at any time. It’s about imbuing your company culture, your executive decisions, and your brand behavior with those values so well that your teams would be able to tell you what they were in a heartbeat. Before you can expect them to see your values, you need to define and live by them. Of course, your employees are actively contributing and creating those values as your business unfolds, so their role is vital in defining your internal brand.
Look to brands that you admire as well as your own personal values, and find that common ground that will unite your employees as well. What do you stand for? What has pushed you to create this brand in the first place? What will inspire your employees to work with you? Let it not be just a hefty salary, because they can get there elsewhere, too. Giving your brand a purpose and a list of core values means your employees stand for something.
Educate and communicate with your teams
Just like the process of internal branding cannot stay strictly in your own hands or the hands of the management only, the implementation of your internal branding strategy is somewhat of a long-term effort for your entire company to uphold. Since they have been involved from the start, they will also know what to expect from the implementation itself and help you choose the most optimal tactics.
For example, workshops are simple to conduct and easy to replicate on a regular basis, or whenever you hire new teams of people. While writing a brand book is handy, embedding your internal brand into your entire office is more effective. Use your brand’s internal communication channels to disseminate the right messages, motivate your teams, and educate new members. Let your policies, office design, and your hiring practices reflect your values in every way – and your employees will emanate them, too.
Internal branding is not an option, but a necessity in this day and age. Reinforce your customer-centric mindset by complementing it with a focus on your employees so that you can send the same message to all those involved in the creation and development of your business.
Elaine Bennett is a digital marketing specialist and a regular contributor for Bizzmark Blog, where she writes hands-on articles about business and marketing.