When thinking about branding, it is often the mistake of focusing all efforts exclusively on achieving an emotional connection with customers. The reality is that any company and any brand has multiple stakeholders to whom it must communicate its value proposition: customers, employees, shareholders, suppliers, community… This is not simply about how the information is organized for them, but about how the business itself is understood. A concept that is based on the fact that any company, whatever its typology, actually connects people with people through its products or services.

The brand’s forgotten greats

Unfortunately, employees are the forgotten ones in the equation for brand building. Let’s think that no one like them can get to experience the brand first-hand and yet that enormous potential is not taken advantage of and, on too many occasions, what they know about the brand is what they see through advertising. Despite this circumstance, it has been shown in various studies that employees aligned with the brand, who know its values, who share its culture, are much more productive, have the ability to generate better experiences and greatly increase their loyalty to the company.

In this framework, those companies that believe that branding is something that affects only the marketing department are missing a great opportunity to strongly build their brand. We cannot ignore that, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer study, employees manage to generate greater trust in the brand than the CEO himself. The good news is that building inward branding and achieving internal alignment represents a great opportunity to build a strong competitive advantage.

How to align the organization to the brand strategy?

The rise of social media, apps, and the ability to create digital content directly from our phones has transformed the way we connect with others in our personal and professional lives. Many employees have become their own content creators and have learned the basics of visual and written communication through social media. As a result, companies’ exposure has never been higher.

Employees, and customers, want real, authentic, human-centric communication, and they can sense when a brand isn’t transparent and real. 87% of employees want their future company to be transparent. In addition, employee access to external communication channels means that anything that is shared internally will absolutely be shared externally. Businesses need to ensure that all brand management efforts are strategically aligned and synchronized. To do this, it is advisable to consider the following aspects:

1. Initiates the commitment from the Management. Internal alignment starts with the management team so that they can inspire the rest of the staff. If employees believe that this is a priority goal, they will also adopt it as a fundamental one and chain transmission will be much easier.

It is worth mentioning that there are certain decisive moments, when the company undergoes some significant change, where employees seek guidance and are more receptive. Even more so when there is a change in leadership. Those moments can create positive or negative energy: enthusiasm or unproductive buzz. Those inflection points are ideal opportunities for internal brand activation. These are special moments when managers can steer people’s energy in a positive direction by clearly articulating what makes the company special.


2. Develop a clear strategy for the brand.
You can’t achieve alignment if you don’t have a well-defined brand strategy that clearly frames your purpose and values, their personality, and how this affects what is expected of their employees. It will be very opportune to define the behaviors in line with the brand and establish the expected performance guidelines. This will facilitate alignment across the various levels in the organization.

It’s important to note that people’s experience with the brand isn’t limited to what they see or hear. In fact, while it may be the first point of contact, it can often be the least engaging experience they’ll have with the brand. That’s because building a brand isn’t just a one-off interaction. The best brands are those that deliver a memorable, cohesive, and consistent experience to their customers, which is determined by every touchpoint and every interaction they have with the brand. This can include the price and quality of the product or service, the way the staff serve them, the accessibility of the points of sale… But it’s the behaviour, as a company and each of the team members, what will truly define the brand, achieving customer engagement and improving business results.

The goal is twofold: to make customers more satisfied and loyal, while creating an aligned, ambitious, and meaningful workplace that behaves in line with your brand.

3. Harness the power of internal communication. There are many who believe that thinking about internal communication is thinking about news and updates written on a panel, from a distance, regarding how to maintain safety rules or hygiene measures. Nothing could be further from the truth, internal communication should promote effective communication between people in an organization. It must be inclusive, both for the employee and the employer. It involves conveying messages on behalf of management, but also facilitating dialogue with the people who make up the organization. Therefore, it is an excellent medium to convey brand culture.

The most serious mistake in the management of internal communication is its weakness or non-existence. People are poorly tolerant of lack of information and uncertainty, and we tend to fill in the gaps of what we don’t know with speculation, imagination, and inventiveness. And this is where rumors, interpretations, lies and other communication monsters find their best breeding ground.

Any company needs to integrate a solid communication strategy that guides the entire team through business fluctuations, and it also needs to incorporate culture fluctuations on a level never experienced before. Whatever the sector of activity or the type of company, there are 3 basic principles that form the backbone of an internal communication strategy:

      • It must be aligned with the business and brand strategy
      • It must take into account the company’s values in a very tangible, authentic and experiential way
      • You need to ensure that internal teams feel seen, heard, and valued.


4. Connect the inside to the outside.
Employees need to hear the same messages that are sent outwards to feel motivated. It is not so much an aspect of form as of content. Too often, internal and external communication work in isolation. To build a brand, it is necessary to align the areas of marketing and human resources.

An important aspect of holistic management of external and internal communications is creating the right sequence in which information should be published. Both types of communication are interrelated. A basic principle of internal communication is that news of the organization should not be released to the outside world until employees have been informed. Therefore, the sequence of posting the communication should place employees at the beginning.

Internal teams will lose confidence in the company if they perceive that it is not internally up to the standards it communicates externally. Similarly, insisting that employees are the key to success, but ignoring their feedback and not creating opportunities for them to express their opinions will also negatively impact.

In addition to the planning and execution of internal communication strategies, it is advisable to organize training programs that facilitate the understanding and integration of employees according to the objectives described.

Final Thoughts

Maintaining alignment with the brand within an organization is a key element of building a good brand experience outside the organization. But keeping the brand aligned internally presents ongoing challenges as employees come and go and management obligations become top of mind.

Communication is very important, but first it’s about teams feeling heard in a safe way. That’s why it’s important to listen more than talk. It would be another big mistake to miss the wonderful opportunity to know what those who live the brand on a daily basis think, to know the problems they encounter and what they think is wrong.

Let’s not forget that one of the fundamental principles in building a brand is authenticity. That’s why you can’t force an employee to feel emotionally attached to the company and the brand that represents it. As with customers, it is necessary to build a two-way relationship and generate a brand experience within companies as well. This is the only way to ensure that the outward experience reaches its full potential.

 

Carlos Puig Falcó

CEO of Branward®

 

 


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