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Your Brand Should Not Only Be External (Part 1)

Cai Yuqian

May 22, 2020

Part I: Why it Matters to Build Your Brand Internally

Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

Misconception: Your brand is what you show to customers

Many companies fall into the trap of thinking that their brand is only about the image shown to their customers. As a result, they invest in a lot of time and money building their logo and website, designing ads, polishing products and delivering satisfactory customer experience.

There’s nothing wrong with doing the aforementioned things. Numerous brands are competing with each other in order to stand out from the crowd and appeal to their target customers. A strong brand can do the magic of directly speaking to your customers and conveying the key message about you as a company.

However, one thing tends to get overlooked by many companies -

Reality: Your brand also speaks to your own people

The truth is, your brand does not only matter externally but also internally, and there should be consistency between both. Why is that the case? Your brand ultimately connects to your company’s mission, vision and values. For your customers, that is one of the key reasons they are willing to choose you instead of others. For your employees, that’s what they believe in and feel connected to so that they deliver excellent work to power the brand.

Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

Your brand is your company’s personality. As an analogy, we as individuals have our own personal brand. We care about how we are perceived by others, but we also should have time for self-perception and self-reflection. If there’s an inconsistency between the inside and the outside, it can be draining and that hinders us from being the best version of ourselves. Similarly, we shouldn’t only care about how our brand is perceived by the external world, but also how we perceive it internally, and whether there’s a consistency of the two. At this time when the piece is being written, we are undergoing a global pandemic that some companies seize as an opportunity to portray and communicate a positive public image. However, if these companies don’t back up what they say, a lack of consistency will eventually reveal the truth, which may end up harming the trust between them and their employees & customers.

But charity doesn’t guarantee plaudits for major companies, Greenwood cautions. When a brand courts positive attention, “people immediately look at your corporate practices and say, ‘Well, you’re expressing solidarity, but you’re not paying your workers,’ or ‘You’re expressing solidarity but refusing to shut down your warehouses,’” she says. “It’s super, super important right now to have all your ducks in a row, because if you want to say anything that’s meaningfully human at this time, you have to be operating in very human ways, and that’s not true of every company.”

Your employees are your walking brand that can influence your external brand to a great extent. As your brand ambassadors, they leave an impression on people around them about the company they work at. “Googliness” is the lifeblood that permeated Google for so many years that Googlers (employees of Google) know what is the right decision to make and how to treat each other in the workspace. Outside the workplace, when you meet a Google employee, you can almost tell there is a subtle disposition embodied by this individual that reflects the company culture and values. Apart from this, your people are also your brand advocates. Surveys have shown that employees in companies with an aligned internal brand are more likely to encourage others to buy their company’s products or services (59% vs. 49%) and post or share praise online about their employer (41% vs. 23%) compared to others.

Singapore Google office, source: Google

Your brand can help to attract talent just as marketing aims to acquire customers. In fact, the term “employer branding” has existed for three decades. First coined in 1990 by Tim Ambler and Simon Barrow, an employer brand is defined as “the package of functional, economic, and psychological benefits provided by employment, and identified with the employing company”. The current business world is nothing less than a war for talents. When talents job hunt these days, they look at a company’s brand and apply to those that align with their own beliefs and values. LinkedIn’s Employee Brand Statistics show that 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before applying for a job, and that number goes up to 88% for Millennials. However, the biggest obstacle candidates experience when searching for a job is not knowing what it’s like to work at an organization, and this creates a good opportunity for companies that want to attract the best talents.

Besides employee attraction, your internal brand can contribute to greater employee retention. A strong employer brand is found to improve employee pride and satisfaction, which is conducive to better work performance. 77% of employees are very likely to continue to work for their employer in the next year if they have an aligned employer brand, while the percentage is 64% for employees working at companies otherwise. Additionally, having a reduction in cost per hire, increase in employee motivation, and better work performance are some other benefits resulting from a strong employer brand.

Photo by Clayton Cardinalli on Unsplash

Therefore, if you haven’t started building your brand internally, it’s time to do it now. According to the same statistics published by LinkedIn, 55% of recruiting leaders worldwide have a proactive employer brand strategy, and 59% are investing more in their employer brand. In the next article, we provide a guide to building a strong brand internally so you can attract and retain more talents.

Up next: Part 2 (How to build a strong brand internally)

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