THINKPIECE: The public knows your brand, but they speak to your employees. Are the two working together?

Internal branding seems to be the flavor of the moment in the corporate communications field. A number of recent articles promote the wisdom of considering the employees during any ’rebranding’ campaign Many of these articles or columns suggest this could be done largely by informing the employees about the brand repositioning and involving them in some fashion in the public announcement.

Internal branding seems to be the flavor of the moment in the corporate communications field. A number of recent articles promote the wisdom of considering the employees during any ’rebranding’ campaign Many of these articles or columns suggest this could be done largely by informing the employees about the brand repositioning and involving them in some fashion in the public announcement.

Internal branding seems to be the flavor of the moment in the

corporate communications field. A number of recent articles promote the

wisdom of considering the employees during any ’rebranding’ campaign

Many of these articles or columns suggest this could be done largely by

informing the employees about the brand repositioning and involving them

in some fashion in the public announcement.



That logic is solid: although branding is largely aimed at external

audiences, it also has important internal implications. For one, the

employees will need to deliver on the new brand promise - through

products, services and behavior - to ensure the integrity of the brand

messages.



Going a step further, you need to leverage the employees as brand

ambassadors.



Don’t just make sure they understand and help deliver the brand. Make

them active advocates who promote and demonstrate the key elements of

the brand promise.



What’s at stake in this internal communication process is the equity of

the brand, and by association, the very reputation of the company.



So there appears to be acceptance - at least among specialized

practitioners in the public relations arena - that employees are the

brand, and should be treated as a priority audience. This is

particularly true in the service sector, where most brand contacts occur

directly with company employees.



But even taken to its ideal limit, this prevailing modus operandi is

based on informing, educating and involving employees as

participants.



This approach has merit, but is it enough?



Beyond informing and motivating employees, there is the issue of what

the brand is. How is the corporate brand being repositioned? What will

it stand for? And most important, how was all this determined? In many

cases, the model outlined above implies informing employees about the

brand after it has been defined and repositioned. That is not

enough.



While it is possible to promote a brand internally with limited insight

or consideration for employee values, that is not the easiest or best

strategy. A more responsive and inclusive approach will greatly improve

the odds of success. Companies can save considerable time and effort by

ensuring a measure of compatibility between their employees and their

brand. Brands that are anathema to employee values are destined to fail,

no matter how resonant with the public or well intentioned.



If we accept the premise that customers own the brand, we must also

accept that employees own part. A credible brand must be based on both

the external market forces and ’internal reality.’



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