Internal Branding

So you’ve built your brand, found a differentiator, looked at all touchpoints – now it’s time to tell your brand story to the world, right?

Wrong. Before you tell everybody outside the company, you need to get everybody inside the company on board. Why? Because every single person that works for your brand, not just those in the front line, is a potential brand ambassador. They can help you or – if left uninformed or uninspired – they can destroy the good impression you’re trying to achieve.

Often, when we think about brand ambassadors, we think about someone like Choi Siwon from Superjunior, or maybe David Beckham who’s taken the number of brands represented to a new height. And yes, such ambassadors can help our brand achieve awareness and recognition. They can even support our positioning, even though that’s harder to achieve. And if they are involved in a scandal, they can potentially drag the brand down with it.

But the real brand ambassadors, the day to day heroes that get your name out there and help tell the story, are your staff. Each and every one of them. Because even the warehouse worker in Ubi, the secretary in Toa Payoh, all those that are not in the front line facing your customers – they also have friends and family, and during Chinese New Year or Hari Raya they will be asked: So how about your work? What’s it like? People tend to trust other people’s opinions much more than Facebook or an ad they see in the newspaper.

So your internal branding is more than training: yes, you need to make sure everybody understands what the brand story means, where it comes from and why it is important. But they also need to believe it in order to project it to others – and that depends on many other factors, how you treat them, how loyal they feel to the company, how much of a sense of ownership (or even actual ownership) they have in the brand.

And they need your help – by way of detailed instructions what the brand positioning means for their particular role. Don’t expect them to take the positioning and independently break down what that means for their own behaviour. That may not be their skill set, and at best it won’t create consistent experiences for your customers.

So don’t be afraid to break it down into small details – how to answer the phone, how to write an email or reply to a query through social media. Leave enough room for them still to be themselves, to be human, and not send boiler-plate replies – there are already too much of those. But help them by breaking it down, by giving them a list of behaviours, from simple optics – the uniforms they wear, the smiles they wear – to Problem-solving techniques. Enable them and empower them to best reflect what your brand stands for. Give them the tools and authority to waive a small fee, to send a replacement product.

Because if your staff enthusiastically represent your brand, your customers will take note. And stay loyal.