Building a brand takes time and work. You need to understand many factors, such as your value proposition, audience, industry, competitors, etc. However, as much as these brand factors are discussed, dissected, and debated, one vital audience often gets forgotten— your internal audience.
Brands are born in meeting rooms with marketers, product managers, salespeople, and key decision-makers. The goal of creating a brand is to help sell your product or service and build your company. Even so, less thought, if any, is given to building the brand internally.
Company employees engage with vendors and customers every day and are an essential component of your company’s success. But, how much effort are you giving to making sure your employees are brand ambassadors?
Do Your Employees Know Your Brand Story?
Do your employees know your company’s “origin story,” how you came to be? Or your company’s vision and mission? Further, do you know if they feel they are a part of the vision or mission? Have you communicated where the company is going and what the status is right now? Do they feel like part of the team? Or have you even spoken of the importance of their role to the overall strength of the company?
Indeed, it’s clear that anyone outward facing who deals with customers needs to understand the brand. However, what is less obvious is that everyone in an organization also needs to understand the brand. And it’s because they represent it too.
Drinking The Kool-Aid
People want to belong; we are social animals by nature. And the more we feel we have a place in the society we live in, the happier we are. Generally, leaders create buy-in with staff by sharing the importance of their roles to the company’s overall success and how it fits into the mission.
When employees buy in to the company vision and their role in it, they are more willing to work towards its success. It’s not unlike consumer brand loyalty with their customers. The relationship needs to go both ways and be rewarded, encouraged, and nurtured. Certainly, a successful brand has both a solid foundation and unwavering support to keep it healthy. Overall, never take employee dedication and advocacy for granted.
Building Internal Awareness
Communication is the essential tool to building your internal team’s brand awareness. It’s more than just updates and pep talks. It’s letting team members know they are part of something big, something that matters. In fact, many giant companies do this. Google and Apple are good examples. When you look at smaller companies, you see those efforts diminish.
Why don’t smaller companies focus on an internal message? The reason usually given is time and money. Big companies can do internal culture-building because of their size. Or the assumption goes. But in fact, the reality is that they’ve been so successful because they focused on their company’s internal culture from the beginning as a part of building their brand.
We live in the information age. People must deal with a lot of content directed at them. To be sure employees faced with internal emails, videos, calls, and memos are just more examples of it.
Failure to Make an Impact
The biggest failure I’ve seen with internal programs is the lack of ongoing support and focused communications. A good example is when an organization launches a company-wide education or awareness program. First, its launch consists of a mention at a meeting and posters in the office.
The program’s purpose fails to make an impact. And it’s not mentioned again. Over time, employees begin to ignore each new campaign. Because they know it’s just going to fade away. Without a doubt, it does, and it’s more than a missed opportunity; it’s a failure to lead.
You already have some of the best possible resources available to help build your brand. Don’t let them be an opportunity wasted. Don’t let the people you rely on to make your products and services the best, get overlooked. They won’t be the weakest link in building your brand. Your leadership will.