Marketing is all around today, from the circular ad you get in the mail to the Ford commercial you see on TV. And it’s been around forever — the Newsie-esque paper boys yelling about the latest edition were marketing their goods, and marketing was around centuries before that, even.
But all of those are examples of outbound marketing. Those marketing messages are directed at external customers in order to get them to purchase a product or service. There’s another type of marketing, though, that’s increasing in popularity. And it isn’t targeting outside customers at all.
Instead, it’s directed within.
Internal branding has to do with the image your company wants to portray to its employees and leaders. It acknowledges the fact that people want to like the place they work at, and want to feel like they’re contributing to the world in some way. And it can have a huge impact on your marketing strategy at large.
Believers on the inside create believers on the outside
There’s perhaps no company that’s embraced the idea of internal branding like Apple. To work there is to feel as though you’re on a mission to not just create products for people but also create experiences. It’s difficult to work at Apple if you don’t buy into the company’s mission, and you can see that Apple employees truly do buy in when they speak publicly.
They’re believers. And that belief is infectious when viewed from the outside. Apple fans are extremely loyal to the brand — not only because Apple creates great products, but because they buy in to Apple’s philosophies just as the company’s employees do.
Company values can appeal to potential customers with similar values
Some companies make it a point to adhere to certain values across their entire organization. For instance, some jewelry makers might be careful about where in the world their stones are sourced from. Or some restaurants might pledge to only cook meals using organic ingredients. Those values often start from the inside and are promoted internally, later coming to the surface in full view of customers.
And when a customer shares those same values, magic happens. They feel an appreciation toward the company and, if they feel strongly enough, will make it a point to purchase more often from that jeweler, or frequent that restaurant more regularly. It’s a show of support, and it can turn a one-off customer into a fan for life.
A strong internal brand helps build stronger teams
A company’s marketing machine doesn’t start up and run smoothly all on its own. There are team members who contribute in their own ways at multiple stages, from those who sit around a table dreaming up new campaigns, to the person who inevitably writes the copy for a Facebook Ad and clicks the “Publish” button. And they’re all at their best when they’re working together, which is why having a common goal to rally around is so important.
When your internal branding is strong, that goal doesn’t have to be a performance goal. It can be the values your company lives out internally. It can be the mission your employees feel they’re working on together. It’s whatever bonds these people, who may come from different places and different backgrounds, to believe in the same thing. And when they’re all on the same page, that’s when your marketing is at its best.
It’s easier to tell the story you believe is true
Let’s be frank: there are marketing messages out there you can see right through. Whether it’s in a commercial you watch or an ad you read, you can almost feel the cynicism of the person who wrote it coming through. They don’t believe in what they’re saying. They’re just saying it to get your money.
Inside companies with a strong internal brand, however, that type of marketing doesn’t escape to see the light of day. When employees genuinely believe in the product or service their company is offering, and feel good about the work they’re doing, that passion comes through in the marketing content they create.
If you truly believe in what you’re doing and you make that the message, it’s the truth.
The allure of working for a company with a strong internal brand can get you the best people
Some marketing professionals are motivated by money. Some are drawn to the position they can hold inside a company. But nothing quite beats the feeling of joining a company with a strong internal brand — where it feels more like entering a club of like-minded individuals than a place everyone comes to simply because they have to.
Think about the options available to today’s entrepreneur. Through the internet and a laptop, they have everything they need to succeed in business, no office required. The most talented and dedicated people aren’t waiting around for companies to give them chances — they’re starting their own companies, browsing ecommerce businesses for sale to find sites to flip for profit, or simply thriving as freelancers.
If you want to attract people like that, you need to offer something they can’t easily get from working alone, and that’s what Google does. It’s all about the company culture there. Everyone who walks through the doors at Google knows they’re out to help push the web — and technology at large — forward.
Whether they’re building cool things or telling the world about them, everyone plays a part in that wider mission. If your company can develop an internal brand like that, you’ll have no trouble attracting some of the most talented marketers around.
Employees who are proud of their brand provide better service
There may be no more trustworthy marketing tool than outstanding customer service. Amazon is well known for its mastery in this department. If you’re having a problem with the website, their support reps are on it. If there’s a problem with a product you’ve purchased, they’ll quickly replace it. If a package gets lost, Amazon will ship you another one.
Amazon’s goal is to be the best place to buy things. And everyone who works there buys into that goal. They want to provide a great experience, and every customer service employee knows there is no substitute for amazing help.
If you make it a mission for your company to do right by its customers, and you enable your customer service representatives to do anything they can to help, they’ll be far more satisfied at work. And your customers will be happier with you, too.