Three Ways to Leverage Your Internal Brand

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Top companies are harnessing the power of an organization’s culture to build a strong brand and leveraging their employees to deliver their brand promise to create a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Are your employees “living your brand?” Do they believe in your product and services? Do your internal communications keep them energized and up-to-date on company strategic initiatives?

Last week we attended the Internal Branding & Employee Engagement conference in Orlando. Best-in-class companies, including Southwest, GE, Dell, IKEA, DHL Global Forwarding, American Express, Viacom, Beam, Chobani, DIAGEO, etc. discussed strategies on how to create and communicate your brand messaging. Bottom-line: For an enterprise-branding program to be successful, you must drive new behaviors and create sustainable results. Here are a few tips:

Alignment

It’s critical to clearly articulate your brand’s authentic and distinctive qualities and then link it to your company’s vision. Melissa Stagnaro, Director of Corporate Communications at Chobani explained how they leveraged the results from a company-wide survey to capture culture and values. They used multiple mediums to share the results, including a powerful video, and ensured that internal and external messaging was in sync.

Buy-in

Next, you’ll need to get your employees to connect, commit and engage in delivering your brand promise. Lenore Feder, Director of Corporate Responsibility and Communications for Viacom, outlined how Viacom’s Community Day engages their employees, making the connection between what the company does in terms of corporate social responsibility and its business goals. Many companies leverage “brand ambassadors” and internal social networks to solidify employee connections to the brand and spread messaging both formally and informally.

Reinforce and Repeat

It’s important for your internal communications to reinforce and explain the values and behaviors that reflect your brand promise. Ginger Hardage, SVP of Culture and Communication at Southwest Airlines, defined their brand promise, “Connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable and low cost air travel.” Southwest reinforces competencies and actions that are critical to achieving brand value, which translates to high customer service ratings and increased revenue. She shared several emotional videos of employees modeling how they “live” their brand values and backed up the stories with high employee engagement scores.

Sara Roberts, President/CEO Roberts Golden discussed how companies have shifted from a top-down, need-to-know communication cascades to a “communication lattice” where knowledge flows throughout like an “organizational conversation.” She shared case studies on front-runner companies who are changing the game and modernizing the way they work with social technologies and other collaborative methods. In one example, leaders are using “reverse blogging’ and posting questions back to employees to keep the dialogue going and innovation flowing.

Leading companies see the intersection between the workplace and marketplace brand and leverage company culture, employee engagement and strong internal communications to continually reinforce brand values. Are your enterprise engagement programs aligned to strategic messaging? What creative techniques are you using to enhance employees understanding of internal branding initiatives? How do your reinforce critical behaviors that help achieve business objectives? I look forward to your comments…

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