Internal branding is a big deal.
While companies invest overwhelming sums of money into external PR campaigns, they seem to ignore internal PR and no zero effort to brand the company among their own employees.
And this is a critical mistake. Numerous studies show that 92% of people trust the opinion of their friends and family much more than they trust advertising and paid marketing campaigns – and guess who stands behind this word-of-mouth marketing?
That’s right – your employees. When they talk about their company outside of work, they can speak about your products and services with admiration or disdain. Loyal employees tend to genuinely support their company, and internal branding is a great way to inspire that loyalty.
But internal branding is not something you can do overnight. Same as external PR, it takes some time and effort to cultivate a sense of loyalty and trust towards a company.
The importance of internal branding
Some company owners may ask: why would I need to invest in building the loyalty of my employees if I already pay them a decent salary?
A good company should strive to build a long-lasting relationship with its employees, understanding that salary isn’t everything for everyone. Treat team members as skilled contributors who can help your company grow and exceed the set goals.
Loyal employees can incite plenty of word-of-mouth marketing, which can be extremely beneficial for your company.
When an employee talks about the company’s product, believes in it, and isn’t just trying to sell something, it motivates others to check it out too.
If an employee is happy at their workplace, s/he will most probably enjoy staying there as long as possible.
If your company sees a low retention rate and an alarmingly high turnover, it’s time to check out what’s wrong with your company policy and how you can improve the situation.
The better your retention, the less time you’ll spend hiring and training new team members (which can get expensive).
Many company owners expect employees to be self-motivated without giving them any particular reason to get excited for work. This is another critical mistake.
In order to retain employees, give them a valid reason to stay – and by that, we mean solid company culture, clear values, and atmosphere of trust.
How to turn your employees into brand ambassadors
Now that you understand the importance of internal branding, the question is how you will actually implement this strategy.
Below is a step-by-step guide on building your brand with your employees and keeping them engaged with the company.
Define your value and mission
This might sound like a cheesy line from any company’s description written by some PR specialist, but defining your internal values and mission is important for keeping team members on the same page.
If you clearly understand your purpose, your employees will begin to notice, and it’ll be easier to implement internal branding that feels natural.
Pick the right moment
If you make big changes, try to pair them with something else that’s going on in the company. If you combine a positive event or change (like a new office) with something you want to implement for your internal branding (like a campaign), it helps when employees associate them both as positive things.
For example, if you have a new CMO coming onboard, you can also start promoting a new approach to the company’s values. This will help people embrace the change in the right mood.
Talk to your employees
Before making a change, you first need to know what needs to be changed. For that, talk to your employees – the people who will be directly affected by that change.
Conduct surveys to learn what can be improved and ask for the feedback. Invite employees to openly share their ideas with you, and make sure that good ones get implemented.
A big mistake that many companies make is conducting surveys and then not doing anything with the data. This leads to great mistrust towards the company and can lower employees loyalty if they feel they aren’t being heard (especially after putting in the effort of answering a survey).
An incentive is a great way to boost loyalty and help visualize the company’s values in physical form.
According to your company and its products, you can offer employees T-shirts, books, pins, or even money for behaving in accordance with your mission. For example, if your company values sustainability, you can offer employees 1$ for every 5 plastic bottles that they recycle.
The main idea here is not to bribe the employees, but to support your mission with actions, not just words.
Notice the employees’ contribution
If you ask employees to share their ideas and thoughts, make sure to listen to them and thank them for their contribution.
Many companies ask for employees’ opinions for the sake of appearance. As a result, employees lose trust in the company and won’t want to share anything with it in the future.
So if you really want to engage employees with certain activities, keep your word and deploy the best ideas. This will significantly boost the motivation and show employees that you care about their opinion.
Turning your employees into brand ambassadors is a long-term investment in your company’s growth and development. Before taking any action, double-check that your company has a clear mission and then start building your internal PR strategy around it.