Internal Communications to Drive Branding

Internal Communications to Drive Branding

In some of my corporate marketing positions, I was fortunate to have responsibility for both internal communications and marketing/branding.  While I think I was fortunate, many marketing and branding executives would rather have a root canal than manage internal communications.  They view internal communications as a purely HR function, and they prefer to focus solely on marketing communications.

While internal communication does need to communicate various human resources initiatives, if done well, it can be an important driver of branding.  How?  Your brand is customers’ perceptions of your company formed from every interaction with your company.  Branding is the process of creating favorable perceptions of your company in customers’ minds.  So, by communicating internally what you want the brand to be and rewarding support for the brand, you can influence employee behavior to perform in ways that reinforce the desired brand.

Here are some internal communications tools you can use to drive effective branding:

Brand Explanation – In order to “live the brand”, employees need to understand the rationale for and key attributes of the desired brand.  This should be spelled out and not left to employees own interpretations.  A company may even put its brand rationale and attributes on its external web site as a way to communicate with customers, prospects and employees, and to be held accountable if it was not fulfilling its brand promise.

Case Studies – Case studies that show how employees helped customers by acting according to the company brand can be powerful in terms of rewarding and encouraging desired performance. These case studies can be shared via the company intranet site, newsletter, town hall meetings, etc.

Awards – A formal award contest can help drive desired employee performance by creating excitement around the brand.  In typical contests, an employee is nominated by a peer, who completes a brief explanation of why the employee deserves the award.  A judging panel, consisting of employees from various levels and departments, selects three winners, and the winning employees are permitted to choose from a number of possible awards.

Catch Someone Doing Well – A more informal reward system is to recognize an employee who is “caught” going above and beyond the job description in critical branding areas.  The reward might be a private compliment, a mention in a staff meeting or a small bonus (a cash award or a gift card).  Despite these being small acts, you’ll be surprised how quickly other employees hear about it.  The grapevine is often viewed as a negative, but it also carries good news.

Profiles – Posting employee profiles on the company intranet or publishing them in the internal newsletter help employees get to know one another, especially in large companies.  In the profiles, the employees can be asked how they fulfill the company branding efforts.

Performance Expectations and Feedback – On a one-to-one basis, employees should be encouraged to consider how their job relates to the brand.  The employee and manager should create measurable goals for the employee in these areas, and the manager should provide regular feedback on how well the employee is meeting those goals.

If employees are a company’s most important asset, they can be most valuable when they understand and support the company brand (a company’s other important asset).  Without a clear understanding of the desired brand and how it relates to each employee’s job, it is unlikely that a company will create preferred brand perceptions in customers’ minds.



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