How do you like them apples?

Is comparing your external brand with your internal brand like mixing apples and oranges? So often companies focus all their branding efforts on their external market and ignore the importance and potential of their internal market i.e. their employees. The result is a schizophrenic brand set up for failure. No matter how effectively you communicate your brand promise to your clients/customers, if they do not experience the same when they engage with your staff, the promise is broken and the brand is damaged.

Holistic branding requires employees to act as brand ambassadors who translate brand values into brand behaviours.

To achieve this, brand and marketing teams need to partner with leadership, HR and operations to create a brand internalisation programme.

1. Educate

If your company already has a formal brand strategy then your staff need to be educated on its important aspects, especially those they need to represent; from brand values and brand personality to key brand messages. If you are in the process of developing your brand strategy, it is best to involve staff as early as possible. Being either at the forefront or at the core of the company, they have valuable insights and will keep the process intuitive and authentic. There will also be increased buy-in and commitment to the strategy if they are instrumental in developing it.

2. Integrate

When brand values translate into brand behaviours, a holistic brand experience is created. Brand experience is the collection of all brand elements, circumstances and engagement; what an audience sees, hears and feels. This may include an ad, an in-store experience, and customer service engagement, or several other touchpoints. The key is to create synergy between each one and through, consistency establish an emotional bank balance with your clients/customers.

This requires that employees be on-brand, recruited based on their ability to understand the brand values, trained and managed to represent them, motivated to amplify them and rewarded when they do so. Therefore, the brand strategy needs to be incorporated into all aspects and departments of a company

3. Demonstrate

People learn by example; and in a company environment, they primarily take their lead from their leadership. It is therefore obvious that to run a successful brand internalisation programme, company leadership needs to demonstrate the brand values in all they say and do. This establishes a brand culture, and more and more employees will subscribe to it.

4. Communicate

Ongoing communication is a critical component in a brand internalisation programme. Frequent sharing of important brand messaging through company news and events and an ever-open invitation to start a dialogue with one another are key.

Create an internal communication platform that is secure, inviting, easy to access and use, is kept up to date and rich in content. Whether print or digital, consistent and relevant communication serves to educate and inspire as well as create a sense of belonging,

5. Motivate

‘What’s in it for me’ is the always-thought, seldom-said question employees will ask when requested to actively participate in any activity or programme; it is human nature. Over time, they will see that a company that adheres to its brand strategy at all levels is stronger and has greater growth potential, and therefore offers them the same, but they still need an incentive.

Make the motivation and recognition elements of a brand internalisation programme fun and unique, get to know who your employees are, what inspires them, what they aspire to and wish for, then customise your communication and rewards to appeal to them.

6. Celebrate

When objectives are realised, targets are achieved and the brand and business grow, celebrate. Celebrate the collective power of a synergistic brand-centric company but never stop encouraging and appreciating individual ideation and innovation.

By following these steps and partnering with an experienced brand agency, such as Power of 9 to guide and assist you, your external and internal brands will both be proverbial apples, and those are the apples we like!