In the recruitment world, we’re often so externally focused that we overlook an equally important component of company identity: internal branding. Smart organizations realize that a company brand is only as strong as its alignment with internal branding. Building and maintaining a strong internal brand will resonate with outside audiences – your potential future hires – only when it mirrors external messaging and lives up to the promises being made to the public. So, how do you build an authentic internal brand?
Internal branding is a continuous process in place by which you ensure your employees understand the ‘who’ and ‘why’ behind your business proposition. Bloomberg
Your business doesn’t have “values;” the people within it do.
Like its namesake, internal branding cannot exist without employee advocacy, but don’t expect buy-in if corporate behavior and policy indicate otherwise. Are your company values merely a list of hollow buzzwords or phrases that no one believes in or cares about? If you want to create true values that define your business, the first place to start is with the very people you expect to promote and uphold them – your employees.
Walk the talk.
Your employees are your greatest ambassadors. Are they ruled by indifference, or are they empowered to contribute as valuable members of the company? Universal truth: when life isn’t right at home, it’s likely no better on the outside. We have the power to change that, and it starts with getting your proverbial house in order as an organization. In our social climate of immediacy, accountability and hyper-authenticity, people can easily spot a fake. And they won’t stand for it. Make sure your company speaks the truth internally and the message will inherently carry through to the outside. Speaking of…
Get your own people involved with social media.
When a hot dog brand (shout-out to summertime fave, Ballpark Franks!) has its own social media channels, you’d better believe your company should. Your social media channels serve as the “voice” of your organization. How accurately does your social messaging reflect the essence of who you are? Ask yourself the following:
- Who runs your social media accounts? Is it an anonymous posting service rather than members of your own team?
- Are your social channels a sea of passive “likes” with no timely, authentic engagement?
- Would someone who doesn’t work for you even care about the messaging you’re putting forth? (Hint: is it all about you, the company, instead of them, the audience?)
We’re not advocating a Wild West approach here. Social media should be managed with diligence (preferably by an appointed staff member in charge of monitoring accounts), but your own people should definitely be involved and encouraged to engage with your external audience.
It’s great for employee engagement and morale, while also creating organic company exposure.
Your social media channels have the unique power to align your internal and external branding efforts. It sets the tone for who you are and what you believe as a company and, by extension, the type of people you hire. Just as people follow – and promote – the brands they like, employee-generated content has the same potential to create awareness and define your company in a positive light. Pro tip: Instagram is an ideal platform to let your internal brand shine. Consider employee contests, company-sponsored events and on-site educational seminars to get the momentum going. Watch as your internal brand develops and thrives organically, and don’t forget that all-important company hashtag.
1 billion people actively use Instagram – and 500 million of those individuals are logging on every…single…day. Hootsuite
Your people are the organization.
Do this: go to your company’s career site. Are your own employees featured on your website, or is your corporate culture depicted with generic “people at work” images? To a sophisticated audience, a seemingly innocuous design decision speaks volumes about who you are and how you’re communicating your identity as a company. In our new Golden Age of online communication, it’s imperative to cut through the corporate-speak and instead focus on telling stories about people.
- Health initiatives with participation rewards
- A true open-door policy where employees can provide feedback without repercussion
- Transparency in fiscal performance (Fun Fact: Enron listed ‘integrity’ as one of their values...before the company went down in spectacular flames and key executives were prosecuted for fraud)
- Cross-departmental Q&A sessions where employees can collaborate with other team members. This tactic helps to break down silos in the workplace.
- Internal events and civic involvement (don’t forget to snap pics for Instagram!)
- A lively company intranet promoting industry news, market trends and the like
- Company-paid seminars and training
- Company-sponsored, after-work outings
- In-house luncheons, Happy Hours and birthday/milestone celebrations