The Value of Brand for Internal Culture
A lot of effort goes into creating and maintaining your company’s brand. Like any business, you have employees in multiple departments focused on executing your brand. For example, HR maintains your internal culture, while the marketing team is fully dedicated to creating the external perception of “you.” But when it comes to employer branding, great leaders know that the winning strategy is to build the brand from the inside out.
Three out of four job seekers consider an employer’s brand before applying to a job
Strong brands see 50% more qualified applicants and are 1-2x faster to hire
Turnover drops 28% in an organization when they hire best-fit employees
Companies with brands that successfully capture their internal culture and resonate with their external audience (e.g., Nintendo, Microsoft, and In-N-Out) recognize their people are the core of their brand. Their employees are the ones cultivating the external perception of the company through the execution of products and services in a way that aligns with their culture.
Today’s employees and talent are brand-savvy. They have all the tools they need to get a peek behind the curtain before even applying for a position. When they find that internal and external facets of the brand fail to align, when the culture, values, and processes don’t match the external promises, the brand becomes a fragile veneer (or, in plain English, a thin layer of BS!).
Three common reasons for internal branding
The good news is, when you make internal branding a core business-building strategy, you’ll feel the effects reverberate across the whole organization. From Marketing to HR, summer interns to senior leadership, an authentic and cohesive internal brand gives everyone something to rally around. It unites and centralizes the core truths about your company, shapes the development of your products and services, and guides your marketing.
There are common signs we see that mean a brand needs a new, culture-first alignment. Often, they’re related to a larger business goal or strategy, like:
Establishing new relevance in your industry.
Whether it’s bringing your expertise to a new industry segment, transitioning from B2B to B2C, or highlighting a unique facet of your process to differentiate from your competitors, you’ll need a strong internal brand to guide the “new-and-improved” you.
Uniting staff through a singular vision.
Sometimes the company vision changes. Whether it’s new leadership or a newly defined purpose for the company, that vision, when communicated poorly, risks leaving people behind. There’s a need to present the “new new” in a clear, direct way that connects the work and values of the brand’s past with its future.
Closing the gap between internal and external communications.
Sometimes you find that Marketing has done a good job creating a specific brand perception with your target audience, but HR is communicating in styles and language that don’t align. HR usually doesn’t have the skillset to develop strong branding, but in today’s ultra-competitive employee market you must look and sound as put-together internally as you do externally.
How to approach your internal branding
Dive deep into your people, process, and culture to understand what’s working about your internal brand and what isn’t. (Be prepared, because you’re going to uncover as many deep-seated, knotty problems as you are hidden gems and cool, new differentiators.)
Discovery (ask yourself…)
What employer branding problem(s) are we trying to solve? What results do we want/need to generate?
What do our best people say about us? What strengths and weaknesses have they identified?
TIP: Pull folks from across the entire organization, from every location, and at every level of command—you’ll need many voices to uncover the truths.
What are our competitors doing? How different are their internal and external brands? What’s working for them and what isn’t?
TIP: Read reviews on sites like Glassdoor to understand common grievances from your competitors’ employees and see how they address those concerns through their own employer branding strategy.
Brand Framework Workshop
Review discovery findings with your highest-level of leadership to get everyone on the same page about the reality of where you’re at and take time to re-align around the problem you’re trying to solve.
Create a brand framework. Review and update your existing brand framework if you have one or start from scratch if you don’t. (If you need a brand framework to follow, hit us up—we’d be happy to share!)
Create brand materials. This should be an inspiring and functional resource, like a Brand Book, for employees to reference and look to for guidance.
Give leadership the language to talk about the new brand, continually and constantly reaffirming that leadership is wholly aligned on this vision of who you are.
Share your brand with your employees, give them the opportunity to ask questions and participate in discussions through strategic meetings, town halls, Q&As, etc.
Implement changes in external branding areas. For example, Sales will need help finding the right words to say, and HR will need help implementing new messaging and visuals in their job descriptions and recruitment campaigns.
From the inside-out
The old saying “It’s what’s inside that counts” is never truer than with branding. You should be able to grab five people from five departments in your organization and have them all say the same things about who your organization is, what it stands for, and the value of its products and services. If you can’t, you’ll struggle to succeed with customers. Build your brand from the inside-out and watch the revenue results follow.
If you need help identifying or addressing your own employer branding problems, take a look at our Employer Branding Packages.
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