Essential, not indulgent. Building your brand – from the inside out.
“Despite the challenging climate, and ever-more stretched budgets, it’s never been more
important for companies to invest in their internal brand as well as their external brand.”
The pandemic and challenging economic environments have shaken up the world of work
beyond all recognition, particularly the expectations of employees on their employers.
The emergence of new behaviours, such as quiet quitting, have – rightly so – seen huge shifts in companies prioritising employee mental health and wellbeing, and improving the employee experience. Employees are increasingly demanding to know more about who they are working for: whether they have a clear company purpose, social and community values,
ESG credentials, D&I initiatives and much more. A company’s purpose, these values, are now central to why organisations exist and key to how people, be those employees or customers, build relationships with them.
The findings of the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer underpin this, revealing that having societal impact is a now a strong expectation or even a deal breaker amongst a huge 69 per cent of employees, and that it’s important to them that the CEO addresses issues that they care about, taking a stand on important issues such as the treatment of employees, climate change and discrimination respectively. In a recent client workshop, the CEO described their staff population as “activists” and colleagues – which captured the spirit of this demand for change.
It’s never been more important for companies to invest in their internal brand as it is their external brand, and to prioritise how they communicate their purpose and values. Ensuring a clear understanding of your brand values and purpose is proven to strengthen staff relationships, support recruitment and retention, build trust and connect them with the external brand, which will ultimately improve the way they convey the organisation’s purpose and values to customers and other stakeholders. Most large organisations already have a team of people responsible for handling internal communications, often HR, but they may not be experienced in brand development and marketing. Applying the principles of external branding and marketing to your internal brand and communications will help to develop a unique and compelling internal brand, and ensure employees have a better understanding of, and belief in, your brand values.
Some key considerations for anyone developing their internal brand and communications in
Be absolutely clear on your values – and stand by them externally
Employees have never been clearer that they want to work with organisations whose principles align with theirs. Their values are a part of them both in and out of the workplace, so establishing and articulating a clear set of organisational values to all your employees is no longer just important for building a strong culture, it is essential to business success overall. Values that are meaningful and aligned with your people motivates them and turns them in advocates.
Involve your employees in the process
As well as bringing their values into the workplace, your employees sit at the coal face of your business, connected to the outside world and your customers, partners and stakeholders. This enables them to reflect back customer perceptions and external experiences of the brand into the internal brand proposition. Find out what they think about the company and its products and services and invite them to contribute throughout the process.
Bring the internal brand alive for employees
Don’t be afraid to create a comprehensive marketing campaign to explain and share the internal brand and find ways to ensure that employees regularly see and feel the brand in their day-to-day interactions. Working with Sony Music UK, we developed an employee value proposition and creative platform that influenced everything the brand did internally – from the way they onboarded new recruits to supporting staff in health and well-being. This was communicated across multiple employee touchpoints including onboarding materials, office environments and across digital and social channels – where video and animation played a big part.
Link to your external brand
This may seem obvious, but there absolutely has to be a link between your external and internal brand. Your employees see your advertising and it needs to match their beliefs about the business, and its products or services. And ultimately it strengthens both sides of the equation. You can even create advertising campaigns that target both audiences, solidifying your commitment to your values. Our work with Sky – The Power of Belief campaign brought new context to its customer promise ‘Believe in better’ and showed the incredible things that can be achieved within society with belief on your side. The campaign highlighted initiatives such as its befriending service and Sky Academy Studios in which Sky employees play an integral role.
When external marketing budgets are under pressure, as they are for so many companies right now, internal marketing may not seem like a priority investment. But when employees are passionate and vocal about their desire to work with companies that have a clear, strong set of values and who care about the issues that they care about, it’s essential to not overlook internal marketing. If anything, it’s a time to invest.