Due to the interest I've gotten on a recent blog entry which was a commentary on a business article I had read on employee value, and the discussion it sparked, I thought it might be a good idea to do more than comment on someone else's opinions on the topic....
What is this concept dubbed "Internal Branding" anyway?
Basically, it's an organizational strategy to train company employees and align them with the corporate brand and its values. That can't happen unless the employees truly understand the company brand. And, in my view, each and every employee is an important part of the company whole.
We can debate corporate structure and hierarchy all day long, and try to peg people when laying out the corporate flow chart, but bottom line: every employee either contributes to the company's brand or impacts it in a negative manner.
Internal branding is crucial to a company's success. All of the fancy branding initiatives aimed at the customer are meaningless, if the company's employees are not brand ambassadors to their customers, and that goes for B2B and B2C companies alike, because its customers are either other companies or consumers.
Human contact is the most critical touch point in any business. Some employees may not see themselves as brand ambassadors because they do not interface with the customer, but the quality of their job performances, and their very attitudes, either build the brand or devalue it.
If company employees understand and embrace the corporate brand, each of the following questions can be answered with a resounding "Yes"!
- Do the company's employees believe in its core brand values, and in its product or service offerings?
- Do they personally take ownership of the brand and faithfully represent it in word and action as they carry out their duties and responsibilities as well as their all-important interactions with the customer?
- Do they buy into the company's vision and mission, and do they understand the purpose of its branding objectives?
Many employees mistakenly believe that branding initiatives come from the marketing department. They think that marketing and advertising, packaging, promotions, point of sale, special offers and bonus programs are corporate branding initiatives. It is management's job #1 to teach their employees that superior customer service is the most important brand initiative of all.
Creating great customer experiences are the ultimate objective of branding, and as I said, the human to human points of interaction between employees and customers are the most important component of branding. More companies need to understand the reasons for and principles of internal branding and employ them. By doing so, they will build their brands on very solid foundations and create unique cultures within their organizations.
Building a corporate brand, from the inside out, is the most solid way I know of to be able to meet the challenge of growing competition, and to build true brand equity. And that translates into real company value.
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