I’ve been talking about branding for years now. And it seems that all too frequently I am asked about graphic design and marketing plans. And while RedKnight provides both of these services, I personally do not excel in them. Therefore, when Gummi provided me with the phrase Internal Branding last week, I was thrilled.
As I mulled over the phrase, I knew that it was perfect. It describes exactly my passion for assisting companies to identify their brand, or what the companies’ personality is. (Yes, I like to refer to companies as a living being, not as an ‘it’.) Internal branding also incorporates the services RedKnight Consulting provides that reinforce the internal brand or personality of the business: the six part empowerment series, staff retreats, culture building, and ethics training.
In fact, internal branding is so important that companies like Starbucks, Walmart, Zappos, Southwest Airlines and IBM spend a lot of time and money to get it right. They understand that internal branding provides them with business clarity and creates focused flexibility.
Equally importantly, it addresses the people side of what the consumer experiences and sees as the external brand. In the end, your brand is not what you say it is; your brand is what the public says your brand is. And the most in-your-face part of your brand is not your advertising or marketing efforts. It is in your customers’ complete experience in dealing with your company and how they are treated when they interact with your employees is a large part or that experience.
In other words, your internal branding efforts will enhance your external branding efforts and solidify your company’s personality. The process is similar to when you meet a person. Your first impression is the external brand; what you then experience when you interact with them is the internal brand. While you may have been attracted to the person because they look good (the external brand), you most likely became friends and hung out together because of how they behave (the internal brand.) This is exactly why the internal brand is so important.
Internal branding also pays off by creating a workforce that is actively engaged in the business. Employees on the front line feel empowered to provide customer service that will enhance the company brand. The support staff members who never see the customer become more passionately involved as they see more clearly their role in creating a successful company. In other words, employees become more customer and outcome focused.
Internal branding unifies the customer experience, just like external branding builds the perception of your brand. So the question is: What can you do today to develop your internal brand and make sure every customer experiences what you expect them experience?