No matter which industry you’re in, for your brand story to ring true, all your employees must feel truly connected to it – not just those prospects you’re trying to reach or customers you want to retain. But while organisations invest thousands, even millions, into developing a public-facing brand identity, few pay as much attention to the internal engagement of their brand. Big mistake. Because how can your team champion your brand and what it stands for if they don’t really know what that is, or worse – they don’t believe it?
Now more than ever, it’s vital that when it comes to your brand story, everyone is on the same page. Global trend watcher David Mattin has argued that whereas a business used to be a black box – and your brand was whatever you’d written on the outside of it – now, thanks to our connected world, it’s a glass box and people can see all the way inside. That means every person, every process, every value, everything that happens inside your organisation is right there for all to see. So if what’s going on inside your organisation doesn’t match up to your outward branding, it’s kind of like opening up a book and finding a whole different fairy tale inside.
All of which proves that internal communications and engagement need to be more than just an afterthought. As your employees are interacting with clients, colleagues and potential leads, it’s vital that they have the tools to bring your brand to life. Your internal branding must be consistent with your external branding, with the same story and messages. Otherwise, your customers aren’t even going to hear it, let alone bother to listen to the end.
Good internal communications give your employees a sense of purpose, a notion of the bigger picture and an emotional connection to your organisation’s products and services. Involving staff in your key internal branding messages will increase their sense of ownership and is more likely to result in a set of values that employees can relate to and identify with.
But just as the way you tell a story often changes over time, your internal communications shouldn’t be seen as a one-off exercise, but something to be regularly revisited. Maybe there is a different or better way of telling it? Something that will resonate with a wider audience? Could your values be more relevant to your workforce with a tweak? Your story needs to be authentic to build trust – hence the need to engage internally with the story to ensure it resonates on all fronts. Otherwise it might engage, but if it doesn’t ring true, it won’t retain customers – or employees, for that matter!
When a customer interacts with one of your employees, your internal communications will be placed firmly under the spotlight, so you need to be asking: what is our story, how does it relate to our culture today, and what do we do to reinforce it? Your story needs to capture your underlying passion, purpose, and the ‘whys and hows’ of your organisation.
To build a strong corporate brand, you need brand ambassadors – employees who are thoroughly engaged, connected and committed. And in today’s connected world, your employees aren’t just the most powerful representation of your brand but social networkers who are sources of information about the company as a whole. And when you consider that, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer “Employees rank higher in public trust than a firm’s PR department, CEO, or Founder”, really, who better to tell it?
So now we’ve come to the end of our story, how’s yours looking? If it needs bringing up to date, maybe a few chapters adding, or even retelling entirely, why not get in touch? We can not only help you to tell it in the most authentic way but help you to improve your internal communications to ensure that your staff are on the same page, too. Sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin!