We’re all familiar with the idea and importance of building your company brand. The effort and expense required to modify consumer buying behavior is largely centered on building awareness of your product or service and its differentiating attributes.
Much of this effort goes towards creating impressions or exposure to your brand through various media such as TV, internet, radio, billboards, etc. At some point - some say between 7 and 12 impressions - your brand is brought to mind when a buying decision is about to be made. This is called unaided awareness.
If your brand achieves unaided awareness with your customers, and your brand delivers on its promise, you will be rewarded with growth. Not only will people automatically remember your company when they want to make a purchase, but they'll often tell their friends about the great experience they had.
In the same way you apply unaided awareness of your external brand, creating unaided awareness of your internal brand will lead to increased success.
What is Your Internal Brand
Imagine now that your employees are your “customers” and that your “product” is your organizational values. That’s right, those relics you call your values should actually become the cornerstone of your internal brand, applying the same approach to branding them as you do your products and services. "Selling" your values to your employees is the key to creating a consistent company culture that employees enjoy. In addition, using your internal brand to modify your employees' behavior creates a more unified message to your customers.
Instead, companies often focus on engaging employees. However, engagement without a "product," namely your values, is only half of the equation. Without it, what are your employees really engaged to?
If you make values the DNA of your culture - your internal brand- your employees will capture all aspects of the brand image you want, which in turn is what they project to the world.
How then do we sell these values to employees? How do we create unaided awareness of our internal brand?
Creating Unaided Awareness
I’ve observed that many leaders go through the exercise of creating organizational values but then don’t know what to do to make them relevant or top-of-mind with employees.
In the age of the internet, leaders should consider some of the same strategies they’ve used to market their products and services. Intranets, kudos, social walls, surveys, gamification, etc. are all ways to engage employees to be sure.
Similar to the 7 to 12 impressions needed in external unaided awareness, you want to create continuous “impressions” to keep your values top-of-mind with your employees. Why? Because you want their daily decisions and behaviors, especially those in front of your customers, to reflect your values.
More importantly, if these values are not actively reinforced with employees every day, your brand, in the eyes of your real customers, suffers. It becomes inconsistent - a reflection of the individual they are talking to.
In short, there must be continuity between our internal and external brand. Yet we often allow our internal brand to atrophy, affecting performance.
“Culture drives performance” is almost universally understood and the idea is heavily backed by research.
Not surprisingly, the more you align and engage your employees around your values, your internal brand, the better you will perform or deliver against your external brand promises. After all, our employees are the stewards of our brand as they interact with clients.
Yet, in spite of the importance of this concept (culture drives performance), we continuously struggle with how to make our values relevant to our employees. We have no dependable way to measure how we’re doing in this regard. And, as we all know, if you can’t measure alignment around your values (your brand), how can you manage it?
The unanswered question then, is really, “how do I develop and manage my culture?” First you need to get your baseline. Novareté offers a culture assessment that explores just that. Understand the alignment of your leadership team and message. Uncover how engaged your employees really are. Once you have a baseline, measuring engagement will allow you to use data to focus your resources, driving performance.
In the age of mobile technology, real-time analytics, and networking, there couldn’t be a better time to create a strong internal brand and begin to use your organizational values as a competitive advantage.