Branding: The Inside Story

Internal branding
Internal branding

When you’re considering branding or re-branding your enterprise, don’t just consider its impact on the marketplace, prospects, media or public.  In fact, a good case should be made that you ought to consider your internal audience first, or at least lend them the same importance.

You can’t overstate the importance of “internal branding,” and how it can contribute to the success of your business, as this Harvard Business Review article explains. But some companies don’t get it.

Unfortunately, in most companies, internal marketing is done poorly, if at all. While executives recognize the need to keep people informed about the company’s strategy and direction, few understand the need to convince employees of the brand’s power—they take it as a given.

Because if you can just get employees to take to heart the same branding insights and positioning that you’re utilizing externally, you’ll be creating a community with powerful advocacy and stewardship.

When I worked on the McDonald‘s business, one project we undertook was an internal branding initiative aimed to getting employees to become better brand ambassadors — by inculcating them with motivational messaging, with “employee exclusive” premiums and apparel they could earn or purchase that made them feel part of the McD mission in a deeper and more visible way.

The “walking brand” project was aimed at not just raising the level of performance and advocacy, but through it, build a sense of community…that would, at its more actuarial level, reduce turnover — the average tenure for a McDonald’s employee, in those days, was six weeks, since many of them were just seasonal employees.  By getting them to stay on board for just an extra week or two through a “walking brand” strategy, the company could save millions per year in training costs alone.

That’s just one example of how building a strong internal branding initiative trickles down into real Return On Design Investment (RODI) that’s both immediate and long-term.