“Success in business is all about people, people, people. Whatever industry a company is in, its employees are its biggest competitive advantage.” – Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin
Most companies spend heavily on advertising and marketing but very few bother investing their money on their staff, the very people who can make the brand come alive for your customers. Internal branding is one of the least talked-about subjects yet is is also one of the most crucial and critical aspects of a company.
Why is internal branding so important? First, because it’s the best way to help employees make a powerful emotional connection to the brand they represent. Without that connection, employees are likely to undermine the expectations set by your advertising and therefore affect your sales significantly.
Engaged Employees = The Best Ambassadors for Your Brand
In most companies, internal branding is done poorly, if at all. While executives recognize the need to keep people informed about the company’s strategy and direction, few understand the need to convince employees of the brand’s power—they take it as a given. Even worse, they usually designate HR managers to handle internal communications and they definitely don’t have the marketing skills to communicate successfully. Information is doled out to employees in the form of memos, newsletters, and so forth, but it’s not designed to convince them of the uniqueness of the company’s brand and connect with them on a personal level.
Employee engagement is defined as the emotional and functional commitment employees have to their organizations so it’s no surprise that when staff are happy, committed and loyal, then the company outperforms its competitors. As of 2017, it is estimated that companies with engaged employees outperform those with disengaged employees by 202%, with up to $11 Billion lost annually due to employee turnover. So while marketing managers like to sit in their meeting rooms brainstorming the next big campaign, disengaged staff on the shop floor are causing massive losses in productivity and sales.
So what does disengagement actually mean? Primarily that staff members don’t believe in the brand they represent, meaning they are not loyal or worse, simply don’t care about a customers satisfaction or a product’s quality.
Employer of Choice = Inspirational Corporate Culture
Your brand as an employer of choice starts the moment an individual becomes aware of you, long before they become an employee. As human beings, we want to have a sense of belonging and distinctiveness, and we take pride in what we do. Employees are no different.
Corporate culture is an umbrella term for the shared practices and values of a company’s employees. It guides how employees act, feel, and think. Corporate culture is also the social and psychological environment of an organization. It symbolizes the unique personality of a company and expresses the core values, ethics, behaviors, and beliefs of an organization.
Your Vision, Mission and Values are not supposed to be empty promises and fluffy words that sit on your website. They are meant to define, drive and guide your corporate culture, they are the words to live by so your staff should not only relate to them but truly believe in them, both at work and at home. Staff need to feel a sense of pride working at a company, like they’ve finally “made it”.
Defining A Meaningful Mission
Cultivating brand admiration starts with the mission statement and its features. Specifically, building trust, love, and respect among employees. A meaningful mission statement should not be general self-congratulatory stuff i.e. we aim to be the leading provider / the number one etc. The mission should describe the brand’s core purpose and goals, and in the least it should define the following:
- What we do
- Who we do it for
- How we do it
- Why we do it
The mission must give employees guidance and clarity on what needs to be done every single day to satisfy customers’ needs. A mission statement that addresses these questions acts as a compass for employees, giving them a sense of direction and reassuring them of the path taken to get there.
A company’s mission statement is pointless if it doesn’t resonate with employees in a meaningful way. Many branding experts suggest that over 50% of employees don’t believe in their company’s mission, let alone know it by heart. The mission statement is the guidepost for employees’ feelings, thoughts, and actions. This is why we define internal branding as “a set of processes that enable, entice, and enrich employees so they can deliver on the brand’s mission in a consistent and credible way.”
Employees who admire the brand they work for have a sense of ownership in the brand, they take personal responsibility for its achievement and success and are more forgiving of its mistakes, meaning they are less likely to leave. Furthermore, when employees admire the brand they work for they tend to constantly and passionately market the brand to their friends and family. They act as strong and authentic brand champions, going beyond their prescribed roles. The more champions and ambassadors you have advocating for your brand, the less you have to spend on your marketing because you are essentially turning your staff into your marketeers.
After all, what is a company without employees?