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What is Internal Branding?

By Christine Hudson
Updated May 16, 2024
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Internal branding is a corporate philosophy that focuses on bringing the company’s core culture, identity, and premise to its employees as well as its consumers, and usually looks to make workers at all levels “ambassadors” or true representatives of the company and its ideals. Most people are familiar with external branding, which can include things like logos, slogans, and the general “feel” of a product or company. These elements are usually carefully designed to work together to help the customer make certain associations and connections when it comes to specific products or services. The premise is the same for internal branding, but rather than looking to teach customers about the company, the goal is to help employees understand and really live into the mission. It often involves some degree of training, but also includes a lot of culture-based education and teambuilding. In most instances the aim is to create a workplace that reflects the larger values of the corporation, whether they’re evident to the customer or not.

Basic Desirability

It’s usually pretty easy to understand why externalbranding is important to companies. The more customers are able to identify with certain products and the more loyal they are to certain brands, the more they’re likely to spend or buy — and the higher the corporation’s profits will usually be as a result. Internal branding can be harder to conceptualize and its immediate gain isn’t usually as evident, but most business experts agree that it can be just as important. It’s main goals are usually similar, too.

The core concept is usually to create a corporate culture that lives into the messages and promises being made to the public. When the strategy works, the company gains depth and at least some level of integrity — ideally, it becomes an organization driven by certain defined values, not just by profits or sales strategies. This is important for a number of reasons.

Building Awareness and Loyalty

Employee satisfaction and retention is typically on the list, which is one place where companies can often see immediate gains. Companies with strong branding practices tend to have lower worker turnover and higher overall job satisfaction. Happy employees who both understand and believe in the core mission behind their work often perform better; the company also expends less in recruitment and training to fill empty slots, which can add to the bottom line as well.

Additionally, when employees feel more connected and proud of the company they work for, they will generally spread the word to others. Loyal employees are also likely to perform much better on the job than those who feel no pride in their work or who don’t believe in the work their company is doing.

Emphasis on Employee Role

Rather than just informing employees about sales goals or marketing plans, internal branding practices typically emphasize the employee's role within the company's success. When a company is able to capture its mission and motive for business and successfully convey that to its employees, the results can be significant. Customers may gain confidence in the company and, therefore, trust that the quality, service, and outcome of their consumer experience will always hit the mark, regardless of the location or store specifics.

Shared Mission and Culture

Typical focus areas go beyond basics. In service sectors, this means that they’re more than the uniform, greeting, and job description of each worker, and in an office, they’re more than simple requirements about office politics and policies. The strategy usually attempts to share the mission and culture of the company with the employees so they, in turn, may align their work efforts accordingly.

Importance of a Continuous Process

The practice of internally based branding has faced some criticism, and depending on how it’s presented, it can feel gimmicky and trite at times. If the training and branding approach appears to be based on slogans or production goals, it isn’t likely to fulfill its goals. Many business experts believe, however, that internal branding that is done well can increase employee satisfaction and, in turn, company success. The most successful approaches are usually based on longevity, and have an eye toward to the future; they may start with something like a training day, but in most cases the messages taught are meant to be a long-term part of the culture, not just a once-in-awhile reminder or infusion. Corporate leaders usually need to look for ways to unobtrusively emphasize and teach the core concepts continuously in various settings, and should expect the process to take some time to take root.

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