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Internal branding: Inside the brand's insides (1)

“Your brand is what they say about you when you’ve left the room.”
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com. 

I got a call from a friend asking me to meet with her friend whose business in Abuja needed ‘rebranding’. During the meeting I listened to the prospective client’s brief which basically was an attempt at driving the image of the company to a certain direction with a mix of public relations, advertising and marketing. When she was done I asked her what her manager thought about her ‘rebranding’ plans. Her answer was short. “Nothing. He (her manager) runs the place, I make the decisions.”


We spend lots of resources - read: hard earned Naira, man-hours and unquantifiable amount of energy ‘packaging’ our image and spare little or no time in carrying along our employees, the drivers of this image.  As my client got to learn, branding is not all about what image you put out, there is a need for all touch points of the brand to imbibe the values or vision of the brand. If your office assistant understands why your brand need to cut the image of a children friendly brand he/she will be more disposed to wearing a smile when a child strays from the visitors area to his/her office.

 


Talking about image, the above quotation comes to mind. What would you want people to say about you when you walk out of a room? Almost every sane person would prefer something positive to be said about them, it’s natural. But in reality it is not always so.


As it is with humans so is it with brands. Hast rightly likens a brand to humans. He says, “A brand is a living, breathing organism.  It experiences failures, successes, and everyday trials.” Like humans, the brand too wants to be loved by all it comes in contact with.  Transcorp Hilton promises to “…spoil you a little”; MTN meets you “everywhere you go”; Harp reminds you that it is “best shared with friends”; Pirelli teaches that “power is nothing without control”. These famous taglines are all part of the various brands’ external efforts at courting our love.


However before we jump at these brands’ overtures, let us consider some questions: how much love does the brand have for itself that it wants to share some with us? If you don’t love yourself (not narcissism) how can you love others? These questions can be answered if we know what goes on inside brands’ insides.

Internal branding should be going on inside the brands insides, but this is not always the case. Internal branding as McKee defines it is “…having a continuous process in place by which you ensure your employees understand the ‘who’ and ‘why’ behind your business proposition”  Punjaisri and Wilson observe that
The objective of internal branding is to ensure that employees transform espoused brand messages into brand reality for customers and other stakeholders. When employees internalize the brand values, (emphasis mine) they will consistently deliver on the brand promise across all contact points between the company and its stakeholders.


Hast reminds us that like my client, we are mostly guilty of leaving the most important part of our branding out of the picture when he says:
When you’re (we) trying to build your (our) company’s brand, one clear focal point is the marketplace and another is the target consumer.  An often overlooked (or under considered) leg of the stool is your work force.


This shouldn’t be the case.

 

Chris Tion (arpa,anipr), a professional Advertising and Public Relations practitioner, is the Managing Partner at bohomedialtd.com an independent Brand  Agency, in Abuja. Follow him and BohoMedia on twitter: @xristion and @bohomedia. You can also reach him on 08033457453 and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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