Defining an Authentic Brand

In response on Pepita‘s comment here is an interesting reading:

Authentic brands are not about marketing. They are not products. They live inside the company. And they are held and enacted of the people, by the people and for the people!

Just like the Declaration of Independence created the foundation of a nation, so does your brand act as the foundation of your company. Its principles are the framework for thought and action by everyone in the company. Without it there is no consistency, no alignment between what you say and what you do, no synchronicity between who you are inside and the way you present yourself outside.

You may ask—“well isn’t that the same as culture?” The answer is yes and no. Authentic brands are in many ways the identity of the company culture. They help that culture become visible. They also embody the values and purpose of the company, giving all these things a face and a voice that can be seen and heard by everyone the company touches. But especially your employees. As the people who most keenly impact the day-to-day beliefs and actions of the company it is constantly amazing how little they are considered when brand is discussed.

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Re-Branding and Employees Engagement

Continuing the engagement of the employees in internal branding, October issue of HRMagazin is running an extensive material on internal branding and its importance for the success of any re-branding efforts .

As the people who deliver the brand promise are employees, making sure they understand and can deliver the brand to customers is vital—especially for companies within the service industry, where the relationship between employees and customers essentially is the product the company sells.

Re-branding takes time. The planning process that produces a new brand can take as long as two years. Educating employees about the new brand, and its implications on the company and their work, can also last years. That effort typically starts several weeks to several months before the new brand is unveiled to customers and continues after the official unveiling to external audiences.

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Internal Branding and Employee Engagement

A recent study by Standard Life shows that the employees the felt part of the business and understood its goals were willing and able to contribute their best to achieving those goals.

Your internal communications plan and branding is a huge step toward employee engagement and here is a list of eight things to do about it:

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Branding for Your Employees (Too)

Adotas on internal branding:

As with any good marketing effort, it pays to begin by looking at the target audience. No doubt your internal audience has some awareness of your brand. Yet in many companies, especially ones that have recently reinvented themselves, employees may have no idea of what the brand stands for, where the company is going or even how the branded product or solution fits into customers’ lives or businesses. It’s a safe bet that if the employees aren’t sure what the brand essence is, the customers are wondering as well. (The paradox here is that some companies have to ask their customers what the brand stands for before they can move ahead.)

Many companies make fundamental strategic shifts in their businesses and assume that the rank and file will “get it” and “get behind it”. Of course, the reality is that a workforce with a wishy-washy understanding or, worse yet, a misunderstanding of the brand, its essence and its direction, will end up being a drag on company progress.

In the end, companies need to create a clear, consistent image for employees and recruits. The company image projected in the customer and employee marketplace should match up to what new employees experience when they are hired and on the job. The image should be communicated in terms that everyone understands. Letting recruits and employees role-play is a good way to introduce “real life” meaning to the message. Don’t take anything for granted with employees and recruits – communicate with them like customers and turn a buzzword into a powerful workforce enabler!

Read full Buzzwords are Branding Weapons: How Marketers Can Steer Buzz into Big Bucks

Using Branding to Attract Best Employees

Conventional wisdom tells us branding is for external communication ant it aims to influence current and prospective customers. But this view of branding is too narrow. Branding should (and is) used on a large scale in order to attract and retain talented people in your company. Actuals and potential employees are also part of the branding target.

Several surveys have been done to identify various corporate attributes which will attract talent. Here is a condensed list of 10 most popular (brand) attributes and are listed below in the order of their popularity. Continue reading

Employees Branding Guidelines

The brand-developing process centers on the messages the organization sends and the processing of those messages in its employees’psyches.

Employee branding is a process by which employees internalize the desired bran dimage and are motivated to project the image to customers and other organizational constituents. The messages employees take in and process influence

  • the extent to which they perceive their psychological contracts with the organization to be fulfilled
  • the degree to which they understand and are motivated to deliver the desired level of customer service

In so doing, they drive the formation of the employee brand. The messages employees receive must be aligned with the employees’organizational experiences if the psychological contract is to be upheld. Therefore, the conscious development of organizational messages is the fundamental building block in this process.

The messages must then be delivered through appropriate message sources.The following guidelines provide a starting point in this process:

  1. Organizational messages should be carefully thought out and planned in much the same way mission and vision statements are thought out and planned.
  2. The organizational messages should reflect the organization’s mission and values.
  3. Messages directed toward external constituencies must be in line with the messages sent to employees.
  4. Messages directed toward external constituencies should be sent internally as well.
  5. The design of recruitment and selection systems should incorporate messages that consistently and frequently reflect the brand and organizational image.
  6. The compensation system should incorporate messages that consistently and frequently reflect the brand and organizational image. For instance, managers in organizations that value training must be held accountable when they fail to train and develop their employees.
  7. Training and development systems should help managers and employees internalize their organization’s mission and values and help them understand how the mission and values pertain to their roles in their organization.This should enable them to more effectively articulate messages that consistently and frequently reflect the brand and organizational image.
  8. Advertising and public relations systems should communicate messages that consistently and frequently reflect the brand and organizational image.
  9. Managers should be taught the importance of communicating messages that are consistent with their organization’s mission,vision, policies, and practices.
  10. Performance management systems should address inconsistencies between practices and policies to minimize violations of employees’ psychological contracts.
  11. Accurate and specific job previews should be given to new employees so that realistic expectations are incorporated into their psychological contracts.
  12. Corporate culture (artifacts, patterns of behavior, management norms, values and beliefs, and assumptions) should reinforce the messages employees receive.
  13. Individual output should be measured and analyzed to determine if there are message-related problems at the departmental, divisional, or organizational levels.
  14. Individual messages should be continually examined for consistency with other messages.
  15. Message channels should be examined to ensure consistency of message delivery.
  16. In the event that messages need to be changed or psychological contracts altered, organizations must take careful steps in rewriting the messages.
  17. Measures should be used to assess outcomes such as customer retention, service quality, turnover, and employee satisfaction and performance

Internal Branding – 8 Principles

In terms of branding, companies need to learn to run at the same pace internally as well as externally. Building a truly world-class brand requires that the company makes sure that all of its internal processes, practices and symbols, fit its brand values. If the company’s brand is playing the role it should in creating value for the company, it should be viewed as a simple cohesive framework for organising all of the internal practices and processes and making sure they work towards creating the desired customer experience.

Succesfull companies do not see one single department as custodian of the customer relationship and do not rely only on market reasearch data to get to know their customers. They seek a better understanding of customer’s values, and the ways to customer relates with their brand. Then, they seek to spread this understanding at an intuitive level throughout their organisation. They build a shared understanding of the desired brand experiece and how it delivers value to the customers, emphasise trust among employees and what people must do not what people must not do.

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Employer Branding

Just found an interesting report published in February by European Management Journal on a pretty hot topic nowadays: Employer Branding.

One increasingly important claim for contributing to sustained corporate success is to build bridges between the HR and the marketing function and to draw from its literature and practice on branding. Thus building, or just as often defending, a brand has become a major concern of organizations in all industries in the private sector. In addition to the for-profit sector, increasingly public sector and voluntary sector organizations are coming to realise the importance of branding, investing significant resources in building brands and trust relations with their clients and customers.

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Building an Internal Brand

Employees, like consumers, are bombarded all day by information. Brands are a way by which we identify our priorities. Consumer brands help us simplify our lives and streamline our selection-making. Internal brands enable us to prioritize our most precious resource: time.

By linking your corporate brand to your culture and values – thereby creating an [tag]internal brand[/tag] – your organization can create a platform from which to communicate to your employees the vision, mission and urgency. Internal branding helps improve credibility and strengthens the bonds of trust between leaders and employees. When people are united in purpose and know where they are headed, positive results can occur.

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The Internal Impact of External Branding

Conventional wisdom says branding is for external communication; it aims to influence current and prospective customers. But this view of branding is too narrow, especially when a company is trying to fundamentally redefine its business strategy.

Nowadays, companies in the throes of change need brand communication to affect their employees’ actions as much as it does their customers.

Indeed, for the many companies attempting to make the shift from selling lower-margin goods and services to offering higher-margin customized solutions, branding can serve a powerful internal purpose. When we are faced with this very challenge, the branding strategy is critical in uniting formerly divided business-unit and product-oriented management factions behind new shared goals and strategies to deliver solutions.

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