Your Employees Need to Drink the Kool-Aid
by Monica Santi
It takes employees who are informed, motivated, and committed to achieve and maintain a loyal customer base. For this reason, it is important that employees embody the corporate brand—or in other words, drink the company Kool-Aid.* How do you do this? Make sure your branding efforts are focused on your internal audience—not just your customers.
Branding is an ongoing endeavor that manages not only the visual elements of a company (logo, fonts, colors, etc.), but also the personality and behavior of the company. Branding solely through external marketing efforts is a waste of time and money if the actions of your employees contradict the company’s desired brand attributes.
The purpose of internal branding is to make sure there is no disconnect in the customer-brand experience—the brand image projected should be the brand performance delivered. When disconnects occur through delivery errors, inconsistent procedures, inferior customer service and/or poor communication between departments, the result is a feeling of disappointment and dissatisfaction.
Internal branding tips:
- Share company mission and values. This can be done through all company meetings, departmental meetings, and internal newsletters/intranet postings.
- Regularly share company goals and update employees regarding progress made.
- Operate in a manner that makes employees feel like participants. Solicit their feedback and input and then show how it is incorporated into action.
- Develop and articulate standards for face-to-face, telephone, and online communication with the public. Set the expectation that these standards are company-wide, not just for customer service and sales employees.
- Host meetings with members of management and line staff from each department. Put the focus on the customer and what needs to be done to deliver a consistent experience.
- Provide company-branded clothing options for all staff, such as a quarterly allowance for “casual Fridays” attire.
- When participating in community events, provide training (if necessary) to reinforce the importance of employees’ ability and willingness to talk about the company’s services.
- Periodically show examples of how other companies successfully use internal branding.
- Be willing to be the company “brand cheerleader” vs. the brand Nazi. Use creative ideas to keep internal brand awareness top of mind.
Branding discussions tend to focus on name selection, logos, fonts, colors, and how these are applied to advertising, websites, etc. While these are important elements in creating a strong company brand, your company’s employees are the most important audience for your branding platform. Don’t forget to plan for internal branding campaigns as you tend to the external branding programs of your company.
* Okay, so according to Wikipedia, “‘Drinking the Kool-Aid‘ is a metaphor commonly used in the United States that refers to a person or group holding an unquestioned belief, argument, or philosophy without critical examination. The phrase typically carries a negative connotation when applied to an individual or group.” I am using the phrase in this article to denote something positive. I just wanted to use a catchy—albeit it cliché—headline with the hope that it would make you read this article! —MS