Many brands can reach an inflection point in their journey and may want to revisit and refresh. So how does one go about it? Whom do you involve?
Internal communicators need to be invited (or be asked they get invited!) to define the approach for the new internal brand identity. With ownership of internal branding divided among a slew of stakeholders – leadership, marketing, HR, public relations, branding agency and the internal communications team is it a challenge gaining consensus and therefore arriving at a clear strategy.
Internal branding may not be complete responsibility of the internal communications team. However, by my belief is that the team is in a unique position to steer the brand in the right direction if involved early and appropriately. Here is what the internal communicator can do to evaluate the health of their internal brand.
Set your goals: Does your internal brand need a refresh? Is there a business imperative to move the brand in a different direction? Your business may be evolving, merging or demerging, increasing capabilities, competing in a different area, fighting competition for market share among other positions that can serve as your need to change. Define your current vs to-be state upfront before you begin auditing your brand. An internal brand is about the experiences which convey the image of the organization.
Identify your audiences: The internal brand is influenced by multiple stakeholders – employees for sure, your leadership, managers, the HR team, employees’ families and alumni. You also need to understand the role each plays in impacting the brand and how they interact everyday amongst each other. What are the different touch points in the experiences?
Gauge the current sentiments: Understand what the current culture is and if it is empowering the business and employees to do more and better. How much awareness exists about what the organization does and what is unique about the business? Check if there is any negativity that is hurting the mood – did your business recently downsize and are employees resentful? Did you change a performance management system which made employees uncomfortable? Did a crisis hit which took everyone by surprise? Do a dipstick among your stakeholders, review your engagement scores for patterns that are relevant and conduct focus groups to distill themes that matter.
Choosing the route: Internal assessment vs external consultant support? You can choose to outsource the internal branding strategy to an agency or manage it in-house. Apart from the cost of hiring a brand agency my perspective is that the internal communicator can play a far pivotal role in crafting the brand attributes than someone with little experience or insights into the working of the organization. It is a lot more work to facilitate the process – however, you have greater control over the outcomes and will feel more satisfied when you see your refreshed brand shining!
Crafting the workout: To get all stakeholders on the same page conduct a workout. A workout is a workshop that distills the views and builds consensus on what your internal brand stands for. This needs a lot of preparation and patience. Think of all the insights you have to gather for the group to make an informed decision. What will help the group arrive at the outcomes in a structured manner? Audit your brand language and review the messages shared via your internal and external channels – website, intranet, newsletter, Town Halls, media outreach, social media pages among others. Are they consistent? Do they reflect who you are and what you stand for? Use the workout to arrive at a set of actions and behaviors which reflect your new brand essence.
Have you registered yet? Sign up today for the Internal Communications 401 Workshop – Brand Building, Inside Out on October 11, 2014 at Bangalore to discuss such topics and more. Seats filling up. Book your seat now!