We made an interesting observation from the results of our Heatmaps survey carried out at the beginning of this year: While publishers consider external-facing brand communications a high investment priority, they do not have corresponding levels of internal investment to support it.
Most publishers appreciate that their brand is what differentiates them from their competitors, and that it can be their most valuable asset. However, a publisher’s brand promise is not just delivered through journals and online platforms, but also through customers’ interactions with its employees.
Putting your employees at the heart of your brand strategy makes for more powerful customer relationships, better customer loyalty and better advocacy. It also ensures that the brand promise to your customers is consistent with their experience. Any company can invest thousands in advertising proclaiming that it is customer-focused, but nothing conveys this more clearly than having a helpful person on the end of the customer service phone line.
The organizations that ‘live’ the brand from the inside out often see greater reward as a result. Virgin is one of the best-known and most successful brands in the UK; it epitomizes how this ‘inside out’ approach can translate into an engaged workforce of more than 50,000 employees in 34 countries into a powerful (and profitable!) brand.
“For us, our employees matter most. It just seems common sense to me that if you start off with a happy well-motivated workforce, you’re much more likely to have happy customers. And in due course the resulting profits will make your shareholders happy.”
Investing in an internal brand strategy can feel like less of a priority than other channels, but having a strong team of brand ambassadors within your company can do more to ensure strong, consistent and effective brand communications long-term, than a whole room full of logo-covered pads and pens.
Here are some areas to consider when implementing an internal plan to support your brand strategy.
• A simple way to communicate the brand – whether this is through a mission statement or a simple brand idea, it is important to check that all staff understand what this means for them as well as the company;
• Communicating the brand internally – Whether it is via the intranet or a brand guide, all staff need to be able to easily identify with the brand;
• Give staff opportunities to “live” the brand – help them find different ways they can express the brand promise through their work;
• Identify brand advocates throughout the organization – not only should management show leadership in living the brand but members of staff (at all different levels) that show particular understanding or empathy with the brand can help enthuse and communicate it to those around them;
• Recruit to your brand – this ensures new employees ‘fit’ with your brand personality, so they find it easy to ‘live’ the brand.
• Know your brand – If your brand doesn’t have a clearly articulated brand idea or widely used and accepted brand platform, then this is the place to start!