How do internal branding initiatives benefit companies, employees and customers? What is HR’s role in internal branding? Here are a couple of points I took note of in my HR executive peer group discussion a couple of weeks ago:
1. Internal branding can reinforce a strong recruitment and retention strategy.
- Prospective and current employees want the brand to be aligned with their values and help them make a difference in the world. For example, everything else being equal, the company that is “green” has an edge.
- Prospective and current employees are increasingly expecting the brand of the company they join up with to help them build out their portfolios and accelerate their career tracks.
2. Internal branding can importantly strengthen culture, values and customer relationships. Employees are a powerful source of story-telling and vehicle for sharing the brand, one that is often not leveraged fully.
What role can and should HR play in internal branding? Historically, HR was more internally oriented and HR talk about branding focused on internal efforts to shift the image of HR from the “NO” department to the department of “CAN DO!” Typical activities involved HR developing it’s own mission, logo and color schemes as a way to shift the image, help develop internal pride and consistency in appearance around HR communications. As HR has increasingly defined it’s role around being a strategic business partner, HR internal branding talk revolves more around culture, values, employee engagement, essentially shifting the conversation to how HR can help employees use the company brand to strengthen customer relationships and support business strategies.
So what are some of the components of the success formula for those companies that have used internal branding successfully?
- Senior leaders, including the marketing executive, are committed to the value of internal branding. However, it is worth mentioning that, in our HR discussions, we surfaced several examples of HR executives that had managed do work arounds and use trickle up approaches in companies where a strong top management commitment was lacking.
- HR is successful in convincing marketing to give higher priority to internal branding which means HR is effective in creating a clear picture of the linkage between internal branding and improved customer relationships.
- HR and marketing work together in partnership using a structured approach that is cross-functional and often involves other departments as well….egos are set aside as all players rally around a common mission.
Is internal branding a worthy cause for HR executives? My take: Yes, just do it! But, do it together with your marketing peers. Employees want to be engaged. Internal branding benefits the company, the employees, prospective employees and customers. It breaks up silos. It strengthens culture and develops momentum around stories and a common purpose. It translates to stronger customer relationships. It is good business.
What other benefits or pitfalls of internal branding can you think of?