Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Internal Branding Series & Employee Engagement Series

Fourth and Final Internal Branding Thought Leadership Piece

Here is our fourth and final installment in the series on Internal Branding/Employee Engagement. In our last email, we discussed our framework called Inward's Internal Dialogue Marketing™ Framework, which takes the theory and makes it practical. In this email we will spotlight Inward's Brand Alignment Process - How to Operationalize the framework into four phases and creation of an execution/tactical plan.

Inward's Brand Alignment Process - How to Operationalize the framework into four phases

Internal Communications Excellence Program

Our process is a four-phase engagement with multiple steps. The four phases are:

  • Phase 1 - Setting direction, conducting research among the company's associates/employees
  • Phase 2 -Internal Dialogue Marketing Planning and Training Curriculum Development (Communications Strategy)
  • Phase 3 -Tactical Implementation Planning and Design
  • Phase 4 - Implementation Launch & Roll out, Measurement

Within each phase are a series of sequential steps. These steps have a wide variety of activities and deliverables that become dependent on creative ideation, scope of work, budgets, timeline, etc. In addition, the processes and steps should be customized to the company's internal branding requirements and unique culture.

Internal Brand Challenges

Having a codified process is not enough however. A company must anticipate the internal brand challenges in advance and be prepared to address them. Here is what we believe are the critical success factors that should be incorporated into planning an effective four phase tactical plan.
  • Acknowledgment and recognition that internal branding is a process, rather than a deliverable. It requires sufficient planning, implementation, maintenance and patience to transform an organization and align with new brand values and behavior.
  • CEO commitment of time, resources, budget and patience by identifying the internal branding initiative as a high priority strategic imperative so that the company can become more responsive to the needs of the customer and their own employees by re-dedicating itself to the company's brand vision.
  • Clear statement of corporate vision, mission and values, as well as proper alignment with the brand, HR processes, effective communications, training, incentives and recognition/rewards.
  • Benchmark measurement and tracking of associate/employee awareness and understanding of what the "brand and desired behavior" are, and how it affects their performance and on-the-job behavior.
  • Apply continual process improvement procedures by reviewing and adjusting tactics to ensure message/creative continuity for maximum efficiency and impact.
  • Having a recognizable (branded) internal brand initiative that associates/employees understand and talk about by use of creative metaphors, symbolism, storytelling and anecdotes. It should be obvious when it is working properly. People will get it.
  • Designing an integrated internal branding program that is engaging, fun and easy to understand, and that remains relevant by involving everyone in the process through brand ambassador programs, peer-to-peer recognition and incentive programs.
  • Establishing a recognizable and active brand ambassador program where employees promote customer centricity and satisfaction at every customer touch point.

So there you have it. Internal Branding is an organized, outcome-driven approach to get to a desired state while continually answering the question ...

"What's in it for me?"

Companies must work HARD to make the working environment relevant and important to every employee through SIMPLIFIED relevant communications, so that they change their behavior and know what to do to reinforce positive customer experiences every day, which makes it EASY to live up to the corporate brand values and external brand promises.
  • The company's employees are its brand. Employees must be educated, motivated and inspired about the customer experience - and realize the power personally. It doesn't happen naturally.
  • People deliver the brand promise - when they don't, there is brand breakdown.
  • It is about the customer experience and how associates/employees perform their jobs, as well as personal behavior in support of positive customer experiences.
We are eager to share our ideas with you and your staff. If you would like us to come by and conduct a half day seminar or webinar, we would be happy to do so. Just give us a call and we can set it up.

We hope you have found our four part series educational and helpful. Please be sure to pass the series on to your colleagues and friends inside and outside the company. Also we invite you to visit Inward's newly redesigned Web 2.0 website where you will find numerous thought leadership pieces and white papers. Also you can sign up and become a member of our Inward community.

Thank you again for your time and support. We also welcome your comments so drop me a line.



Internal Branding Series & Employee Engagement Series

Third of four installments. Keep an eye out for the whole set.

Here is our third installment on Internal Branding/Employee Engagement. In our last email, we discussed internal branding by sharing an easy to follow model called Inward's Internal Communications Model. In this email we will spotlight our framework called Inward's Internal Dialogue Marketing™ Framework, which takes the theory and makes it practical.
Inward's Internal Dialogue Marketing™ Framework - making the model come to life

Dialogue Marketing Framework

Our codified framework is designed to be a practical consensus-based process designed to move employees through four phases of tactical communications with specific outcomes and goals in mind.
  • First is informing the organization through experiential tactics using simple value messages, such as all-hands meetings, emails from the CEO, screensavers, Post-it note pads, embedded videos via e-mail, employee brand book, internal advertising campaigns and direct response using dimensional items, periodic podcasts by the CEO that can be downloaded to cell phones and iPods, etc. It is important for the tactic to be aligned with the message. Often companies make the mistake by giving out premium tee shirts and baseball caps that have no meaning at all with the message they want to convey. Choose a tactic that has meaning to the overall message and desired behavior.
  • Second is gaining employee understanding through curriculum and training programs that teach individuals what is at stake and how to adopt new behavior. These could be video games, classroom workshops, puzzles/games, online tutorials and workbooks/collateral, in-store training sessions, regional managers meetings, with incentives and rewards attached, etc. Don't assume that if the employees know about the brand, that they understand the brand. The education process is a critical step.
  • Third is changing behavior by conveying specific messages that result in personal commitment. This happens by implementing peer-to-peer recognition programs and appraisal systems aligned to the brand values and new behavior. It can include creation of local, regional and international brand ambassador programs that will create surrogates and internal brand advocates. The HR group should also play and active role in setting annual goals, appraisal programs and managing the feedback to employees.
  • Fourth is to reinforce behavior through implementation of companywide recognition, incentives and reward programs. Some sophisticated tactics could include an internal social Web 2.0 website with relevant content/messages regarding the initiative that identify people who are living the brand, updates from senior management, a dialogue (asked the CEO) exchange with transparency, 'living the values' blogs, peer-to-peer recognition and reward programs, tutorials/training online, contests and incentives, employee of the month, online/off-line prize/premium incentives, mystery shopper recognition programs, etc. More simplified ideas are employee of the month/year programs, special bonus pools, etc. The main idea is to recognize people for doing the right thing.

When these four phases are planned and executed sequentially with a strong creative metaphor idea and common messages; directed to the right audience at the right time with the right incentive - a company can achieve powerful alignment and behaviors that they could never have imagined.

AFC/Tellabs - Case History

Before - AFC, after a long, thoughtful process, repositioned itself with a new external brand marketing communications program built around a new theme called "AFC - The Acronym for Access". This new brand represented a significant departure from their former positioning which was old-fashioned and engineering centric. The new branding, which was young, spontaneous and smart required all employees to adopt a new attitude and behavior to support the program. Inward was hired to help plan and implement a comprehensive internal brand communications with their ad agency. The plan was designed to inform and educate the staff about the change, as well as incent and reward employees to embrace new behavior that was consistent with the new brand of values.

After - Inward, in close consultation with the client and their ad agency, established an internal communication architecture/platform to explain why the company was embarking on such a dramatic program. Once the message architecture was complete we created an experiential communications program that was engaging, entertaining and relevant to their intellectual/engineering needs. It resulted in an employee population that was supportive and enrolled behind the brand with new behavior and attitudes towards the company and the marketplace as a whole.

The creative included an experiential launch event at an art deco theater, as though it was a movie premier, with all the gala accoutrements of a red carpet for employees, look-alike celebrities, spotlights, ushers who were senior management, playbills and the feature presentation - the new ads. This was followed by departmental training and signed commitment posters for each department. By examining their employee population, they learned that the majority of their workforce had young children, so they created a bed-time story-book about the new brand that could read to their children and learn about it themselves. In addition, we established a brand ambassador program where any employee could be quizzed about the brand by a designated roaming brand ambassador and if they got the answer right, they received a stamp in their brand passport, which were also distributed to all employees in advance. Once filled with passport stamps from the brand ambassadors, employees could redeem the passport for valuable prizes.

The result, in the end, was that the employees really got behind the brand and started to live the new values to distinguish it from the competition. They understood their company's role and how their individual efforts could contribute to the success of the company. After substantial market success and a growing stock price, the company was acquired by Tellabs just before it implemented the last phase, a post-campaign, all-hands employee recognition and reward program.


If you would like to discuss the model in greater depth, please let me know and I would be very happy to walk you through the steps and make it relevant to your company.

In our next email, you will receive a spot light on how to operationalize the framework into an action/delivery process called Inward's Brand Alignment Process.

We hope you are enjoying the series and encourage you to save the emails and forward them to your friends and colleagues.