Five Fundamentals

What can you do to drive bottom line results through a brand-inspired culture? Here are five fundamentals of internal brand building and characteristics of successful companies.

Leadership from the Top
Some companies, like Southwest Airlines and Starbucks, have built their brand internally from day one. And it shows – in their business growth and in their shareholder return. These companies have strong leadership that provides a clear vision and direction to employees from their very first day on the job.

Older companies, or those who have experienced change, are effective in building their brand internally if there is strong leadership and direction at the CEO level. Without this, inconsistent or conflicting messages quickly work to the detriment of the organization. Involvement and support of senior managers is necessary to spread the word and build support throughout the organization. And, these senior managers are perfectly positioned to effectuate any changes to policies or operational procedures that may need to occur.

Participation from All Levels of the Company
Because every employee is a brand ambassador, representatives of all departments and all levels are instrumental in formulating the plan to bring the brand to life.

Internal brand building cannot just come from marketing, or HR, rather it needs to be a cross-function team that makes it happen. Pharmaceutical companies are well known for their success in creating “brand teams” whose mission it is to create communication tools and events. Not only does this provide brand building that is grounded in the realities of employees’ daily lives, it makes these key employees internal brand ambassadors who then go on to mentor their peers.

Connecting the Head and the Heart
Like any communication, the best internal brand building makes the connection between the heads and the hearts of employees. Not only must the brand must be true to the organization’s values, it should build off the heritage and remind employees why they are proud to represent the brand. An emotional connection is critical to helping employees. At their best, with heads and heads engaged, they become your biggest advocates. Without that engagement, they have a serious negative impact.

Communicate One Million and One Ways
Repetition, repetition, repetition. Then say it again!

You must reinforce your brand message at every possible opportunity. From orientation and training, to employee newsletters and your intranet, to regular staff meetings and special events, every point of contact with your employees is an opportunity to engage them in support of the brand. The best companies share all measure of information, and invest in the tools and technology to make communication simple and timely. Create enjoyable yet informative ways to communicate–it will pay off!

Use Performance and Appraisal Tools
It’s one thing to say that your employees are your brand. It’s another to make being brand ambassadors part of their job. Yet successful companies clearly connect employee behavior in this area with performance and appraisal tools. Brand champions should be rewarded, and those not engaged must be brought along through coaching, peer-to-peer mentoring or other tools. Job descriptions and appraisal tools must have the brand message “baked in.” And don’t underestimate the power of recognition in building brand with the company. Through your internal communication tools, publicize the positive actions of your employees to inspire others to “live the brand.”