The most important audience of your brand is internal

Name badgeby Tony Fannin, CEO/Partner, BE Branded  |

Lately, a few close friends of mine in different industries, working for Fortune 500 companies, have the same brand experience. The catch is, none of them are in marketing. These friends feel frustrated and let down because they see their beloved companies not live up to their brand promise internally. That is, the image and brand their companies extoll to employees, their “core values”, were not being delivered.

When it comes to your brand, you actually have two audiences, external (customers) and internal (employees, other departments, vendor/partners). If you disappoint either group, then your brand is no longer credible. I would argue, your internal brand is THE most important of the two. If your secretary and maintenance guy won’t go into front of professional gun fire to defend your brand, then you really don’t have one. If the front line worker doesn’t see you delivering on your brand promises to them, they definitely won’t live your brand promise to your customers with any sincerity or conviction.

We’ve all experienced dispassionate employees just going through the motions, if that. In actuality, it’s not their fault. If the business doesn’t deliver on their brand promise to their employees, then there is no logical reason why they should believe the company will deliver it to the customer. Costco is one example of a company backing up their brand internally as well as externally. Most of the time when you go to Costco, your experience is enjoyable, the staff is friendly and helpful and they are almost always handing out tasty goodies. The employees feel the same as you, the customer. Costco employees are paid higher than almost anyone in discount retailing. According to the Huffington Post, here is the average breakdown of a full-time hourly employee:

• Costco – $17
• IKEA – $9
• WalMart – $9.68
• Target – $8.07

Now, pay is only one component and some companies make up lower pay through other perks and benefits, but it is one indicator of what a company values. Costco is under pressure to treat their employees worse! This is coming from Wall Street, who see this as wasteful and lowering their stock returns. There’s a reason why Costco has one of the lowest employee turnovers in the industry and why they consistently deliver an enjoyable shopping experience – Costco really delivers their brand to their internal customers. First and foremost. They realize by doing this, their brand promise will be delivered to their external customers. And yes, even to their stock holders by consistently meeting guidance earnings.

The point is, your brand must be delivered to two audiences, external and internal. Too often, companies forget to take care of the most important audience. So, if you want to really establish a great brand, start at home.


About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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