Creating Internal Engagement

By Mike Symes, Chief Executive, Financial Marketing Limited

“An organisation can only ‘walk the talk’ when its managers deliberately shape its internal reality to align with its brand promise…(the brand’s) values must be internalised by the organisation, shaping its instinctive attitudes, behaviours and priorities” Alan Mitchell, Out of the Shadows

There are three fundamental myths associated with branding:

The first is that the principles of branding are only appropriate for large businesses. The second is that they are purely externally facing. The third is that branding is something of a veneer – a mere advertising vehicle, somehow disassociated with strategy.

Business strategist, Gary Hamel, once said: “Create a cause, not a business.” Owners of successful small businesses frequently draw strength and courage from allegiance to a purpose.

Every brand has a powerful central idea, sometimes referred to as its core essence. A brand is vacuous as a customer promise, unless and until it becomes a core business purpose. Your Core Brand Essence is the brand’s promise, distilled and expressed in the simplest, most single-minded terms – a single word or phrase that captures the soul of your brand. For those who work with the brand, it is a beacon that motivates and inspires continued commitment.

Branding is not about ‘spin’. Integrity must be at the heart of your brand. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, or what products or services you provide, if the brand story doesn’t ring true or is superficial, because the company doesn’t really ‘own’ it, then your customers and employees will see through it. If you remain true to your brand, then they will get behind it, live it and really love it.

The Brand

The key to branding success is to embody the brand itself in ALL words and actions.

The relationship with the brand deepens as everyone becomes involved – moving from awareness to understanding as the essence of the brand comes alive through creating a clear, differentiated client experience.

Ultimately, brand equity is the sum of all the hearts and minds of every single person that comes into contact with your company.

In the best-managed brands, the entire workforce accepts the brand’s values. The employees have a relationship with their brand that is the counterpart of the intended client relationships. Only a small proportion of the brand’s mass and power is visible, the rest is intangible and hidden. But effective brand management requires attention to the hidden brand elements as much as to the visible ones.

External

Name

Brand identity

Brand experience

Marketing collateral

Advertising

Public relations Referral

Products & services

Internal

Recruitment policies

HR policies & processes

Staff motivation

Structure

Internal communications

Business process

Training

Quality

Knowledge management

Technology

Brand values management – control

Flip the Megaphone

Today, you have to wow your customers at every possible opportunity. Your employees are the life-blood of the business and are crucial to its success. The best way to do that is to ‘flip the megaphone’ and engage with your employees first. You have to start internally to get employees engaged in the brand and cultivate the culture that will encourage them to behave in ways that will affirm the brand.

By understanding the essence of the company’s brand and being empowered through a set of shared values and standards to deliver on that essence, your employees will instinctively know how to act on those values. Employees need a clear focus on what the brand stands for – the values, the style, the personality and the point of differentiation. When employees know the company and understand the brand then, and only then, can they communicate it to the customer.

The process always starts with your own people. Involve them, listen to them and inspire them. Then it’s far easier to connect with your customers.