For almost all businesses, the majority of the marketing budget will be (quite rightly) dedicated to developing and honing your external marketing to attract more customers. However, very few organisations think about how the brand is reflected and communicated internally as well as externally.
Although you might think that internal branding is just another headache you could do without, the businesses who’ve invested the time and money have reaped plenty of rewards. Not just in terms of their recruitment and employee retention, but their overall sales and ROI too.
So why is it important to balance your internal and external branding, and how can you do it effectively?
Avoiding mixed messages.
Changes in organisational structure, products or services impact equally on both your customers and your colleagues. Even minor alterations like product details or a service update can have a big impact if the change isn’t communicated clearly and consistently.
Having a brand that works across both your internal and external audiences can aid this joined-up communication and ensure that everyone is on the same page. That way neither side is left behind or confused by inconsistent or mixed messaging.
Salesforce’s Ohana (which comes from the Hawaiian word for ‘family) bonds not only their employees but their customers, partners and local communities too. Starting as a ‘deep-seated support group’ within the business, Ohana promotes bonding and joint responsibility for each other. This belief in genuine relationships means that Salesforce has repeatedly appeared in the Fortune 500 and 100 Best Places to Work For recognition lists.
The way your team works sets the precedent for your brand. For example, if your internal culture is enterprising and innovative, then your external brand needs to reflect this. A break in the link between your internal culture and external brand can lead to costly misunderstandings between your business and your customers.
If your internal culture is all about agile working, for example and your branding starts to attract corporate / traditional businesses, then this could cause a clash in ways of working further down the line. To avoid misleading your customers and causing conflict internally, it’s key that your internal culture and external branding matches up.
Data-driven, creative and with clear communications, Google’s internal culture directly reflects its external mission – to bring the right answers to people quickly and easily. This happy, fun internal culture is reflected directly in Google’s innovative, creative products and services.
Make your brand authentic.
Your culture and your values are what drive a brand and business forward. They’re also a potential crash site between your internal and external branding. With 90% of customers saying that authenticity was an important factor when choosing a brand, it’s key that businesses of every size get it right.
Your founders may have a clear idea of what the business values are and where they come from, but if these aren’t communicated effectively to your employees and customers, then they won’t be truly authentic. Internal and external brands play a key part in communicating these values, whether they be integrity, transparency or sustainability.
Consistently with one of the highest performing employee experiences, Adobe prides itself on providing a genuine and authentic internal culture for its colleagues. The founding values of sincerity, trustworthiness and reliability sit at the base of their whole organisation, including their code of ethics, workplace design and employee benefits.
The power to unite teams.
If your employees don’t believe in your brand and what it stands for, then how can you expect your customers to? Uniting your team behind an internal brand, its values and the experience and culture that falls from it, is the most effective way to unite teams, whether they’re working remotely or in other countries.
Plus, it can hold benefits for your external brand too.
The power of brand advocacy can’t be sniffed at, with brand messages being shown to reach 561% further than through official social media channels alone for example. Research has also shown that a strong internal brand can also have a positive impact on employee attraction and retention, meaning less money and time wasted through HR. Microsoft discovered this when they transformed their culture under CEO Satya Nadella. This cultural change united all colleagues, whatever their age or background, by ensuring that everyone in the company was answered for and understood why they were at Microsoft.
This led to Microsoft’s talented employees focusing their efforts on making improvements for customers too. The Microsoft team tailored existing and new products and services directly to customer needs. As a result, businesses felt that Microsoft now cared more about their success and the business saw a 14% rise in their revenue.
Step to take for your own business.
To balance your internal and external branding effectively, you need to understand exactly what it involves and commit to developing what your employees see as much as you do to your customers.
Understand what internal branding is.
At its basic level, internal branding translates the“what” and “why” behind your business proposition in a way that’s useful and productive for your employees. The methods of translation will be different for each business. You might find that a manifesto and behavioural charter is enough, or maybe an independent brand with its own logos, slogans and events would be more effective. Establishing this scope is the starting point for any effective internal brand.
Ask employees their opinion.
If you’re struggling to establish what your internal brand looks like, then asking employees for their opinion on the how they view the business is a good starting point. Whether it’s through surveys or interviews, this data will give you valuable insight to feed into both your internal and external branding.
Integrate it into employee experience.
Once you have established an internal brand, it’s key that you make it central to your employee experience. Any HR initiatives or communications you deliver need to be consistent with this tone of voice, alongside any events or structural changes you make.
For example, Bumble recently gave their employees a week’s extra holiday to help with burnout which linked directly to their internal and external brand’s focus on wellbeing.
Commit to it long-term.
Developing an internal brand and launching it isn’t enough. To ensure your businesses brand is effective, both internally and externally, you need to commit time and money to it for the long term. A truly cohesive brand will hold benefits for your bottom line in the future if you continue to make the investment from now.
Get an external assistance.
If you’re struggling to link your internal and external branding or make them as effective as they could be, then getting in professionals to assist with the process will help.
With many years of industry expertise and experience, the Designmc team can get to the heart of what drives your business and translate it into an effective internal or external brand. So, get in touch and uncover the significant returns of developing your whole business brand – internally and externally!