In today’s new economics of service, it’s critically important to unite employees within an organization so they are pulling in the right direction and consistently communicating and behaving in line with the organization’s brand strategy. Why? Employee interactions create value for customers and deliver the brand promise. And because long-term business success depends on providing not just good but exceptional customer experiences.
Focus on service quality
Companies that focus on delivering above-and-beyond service have a strong competitive advantage. However, creating a strong brand and developing abilities to deliver robust service quality can only happen when employees have the skill set to deliver on customer expectations.
As such, business, brand and academic experts advocate adopting internally oriented branding and service quality initiatives to develop employees as passionate brand advocates who differentiate an organization from its competitors.
On the downside, however, research data suggests that only a small fraction of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs. But don’t fret. Research also suggests that the more companies focus on engaging their employees, the more successful they can be.
Focusing branding efforts on internal audiences helps them learn, know, understand and support the brand so they can share in the organization’s vision. Engaging employees through internal branding helps them make powerful emotional connections to the organization’s products and services so they can live up to — and often exceed — customer expectations.
Build your brand, internally
But internal branding is more than promoting a company’s brand to its employees. A brand is really a reflection of the internal organization’s culture and activities. The brand must be incorporated from the very top to the bottom and woven throughout the entire organization, including organizational vision, mission, identity, objectives, strategies, training, work style, employee interactions and even in its facilities if it is going to be able to deliver quality customer experiences.
However, an organization’s internal brand-building ability is dependent upon the right combination of marketing, human resources, organizational culture and measurement. And today, it’s often the marketer’s role to link these components to build a successful internal brand and work to ensure everyone is rowing in the right direction, and perhaps go from goat to hero in the process.
Lead by example
Leaders in successful companies purposefully and strategically align and support employee engagement initiatives to build a brand internally. They integrate the organization’s ideology and vision, guiding principles and brand values into everyday action actions and language. They work to develop a healthy environment so people can embrace the ideology. They lead by example, empower employees, take risks and exchange ideas to encourage and inspire behavioral change.
Today’s leaders recognize that leadership is not about pushing associates to try to get more out of them. It’s about investing in people’s needs so they feel empowered, appreciated, full of energy and inspired to invest themselves in their work. These leaders understand what motivates their employees and show appreciation in ways that matter to their people. As a result, employees perform better.
Enlist brand ambassadors
For the brand to be successful, the employees must be able to identify with the organization’s future vision. Employees thrive in an organization when they identify with the brand. An organization needs to be transparent — sharing its ideology and the reasoning behind it.
To do this, leaders often enlist the help of brand ambassadors — highly engaged and influential employees — to activate the brand internally to bring others on board. However, this doesn’t happen automatically. Organizations must invest in training, tools and resources to foster their success. Brand ambassadors, in turn, use their skills, training and resources to engage other employees in the brand.
By supplying guiding principles, tools and resources, employees can internalize what the brand is and what it stands for and learn on-brand behaviors and skills. This imbues them with a sense of purpose. They better understand their roles, can see the impact they have on a daily basis and see how they truly make a difference.
Together, organizational ideology and guiding principles help employees believe in the brand and encourage on-brand behaviors. At the same time, employees feel more invested in the company’s success.
Finally, employee engagement increases when an organization knows how to communicate success stories effectively to the organization. In turn, employees know how to share accomplishments and have a clear understanding of how their achievements have a direct impact on the organization.
Investing in engaging employees through internal branding efforts pays dividends in the end. High employee engagement leads to better overall business performance, including elevated financial performance, higher productivity, higher customer satisfaction and lower employee turnover.