Selling the Brand Inside
Why branding is a two-way street
When leaders focus branding efforts on external customers and ignore their employees, they risk creating a brand that says one thing and behaves like another.
The first people who should understand and believe in the brand are your own people. Without that strong connection, employees can work at cross-purposes with or even undermine your brand. No amount of external marketing can make up for a bad customer experience delivered by a disengaged employee. But, when everyone inside understands, cares about, and believes in the brand, it’s palpable on the outside. There is nothing more magnetic than employees who are unified and inspired by a common sense of purpose and identity. This is why our process at Taiji Brand Group emphasizes employee involvement and builds the brand from the inside out.
Four keys to maximizing your investment in branding from the inside out:
1. Include people in the process. People love and support what they had a hand in creating. No, not everyone wants to give input. Yes, being inclusive can slow things down. But there are many efficient ways to allow for participation in the process, from storyboarding and workshops to interviews and surveys.
2. Connect through storytelling. Well-crafted stories are the most powerful tools that leaders have to influence, teach, and inspire their people. Stories convey the culture, history, and values that bring people together. Storytelling can also be used to demonstrate various ways employees are bringing the brand to life.
3. Be consistent in your message. In branding, alignment is everything. Employees and customers need to hear the same messages. That seems basic but it’s surprising how many times people hear one message from leadership but see something different going out to the public. It’s confusing and calls company integrity into question.
4. Take your promise seriously. If you want your brand to stand for something important, the promise behind it has to be more than words on a page. It should be a decision-making filter at every level of the organization. Everyone is responsible for delivering the promise every time. If the customer experience doesn’t match the brand promise, the value of your brand is weakened.
When you are ready to launch the brand, always start with your internal audiences. If you are tempted to do it by memo—think again! To be effective, your internal launch should be as creative and exciting as the campaign you deliver to your external audience. Ideally, the brand is officially launched by your senior team—in a personal presentation or a fireside chat where discussion and feedback are possible. If you want on-brand behavior in your people to become instinctive, it has to start with the leaders.
Branding from the inside out is a big commitment. Times are challenging for business and there is constant pressure to squeeze and streamline. But if your employees don’t care about your company, your customers won’t either.