Branding from the inside out

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You already understand how important external branding is. And you’ve probably put quite a lot of thought and effort into it. But what about internal branding?

Internal branding can be just as crucial to your success as external branding is, especially if your organization is anticipating or experiencing a big event, such as an acquisition, an IPO, or a milestone anniversary.  Here are three good reasons why:

  • When the corporate landscape starts to look different, people sometimes get nervous. Good internal branding will not only reassure them, but will also create positive excitement about the change.
  • You want your employees to be rowing in the same direction, with the same vigor. Good internal branding will show them where to aim their boats, how fast to row, and where the finish line is.
  • Employees who are well-educated about your company and its offerings, vision, and brand values will consistently communicate these things in their interactions with the media, industry analysts, customers partners, and even each other. It all helps build the brand.

So, how do you begin to brand internally? What does that even look like?

Too often people begin — and end — their efforts with an email newsletter or a companywide meeting. Although these may be appropriate, they are only a couple of options. Internal brand communication can be as diverse in form and content as external brand communication. And it should be no less strategy-driven. Think about roles, touchpoints, calls to action.

We’ve seen clients get rave reviews for thoughtful internal messaging guides, rousing kickoff presentations, even internal “ad” campaigns designed to change organizational perceptions and behavior.  These can take the form of slick, well-designed print pieces, portable PDFs and videos that can be disseminated via your intranet, available on your Web site, or even used as walk-in loops at conferences or tradeshows.

We advise our clients to approach internal brand communications much the same way they do external branding–with messaging rooted in fact and research, expressed with creative imagination. Here are a few of the questions we ask clients:

  • What’s your history? Why was your company founded? How did it grow? Why did it grow?
  • What are your values? What do you stand for? (And what do you work to prevent?) How do your daily operations support this?
  • Where do you want your company to go? What’s your vision for the next year, five years, ten years? And we don’t mean financially, though of course that’s crucial. We mean growth in your market reach, your capabilities, your client relationships, your employee base.

Most importantly, solicit input from as many employees as you possibly can. You may or may not be surprised at what they think, but you’ll certainly learn from it.

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