From start to finish, every single point of contact within the organization must deliver on its brand promise. Internal communications make up every communication touchpoint or contact with a company's people. This includes messages from leadership (or lack of) - whether delivered in person or in writing.
Tim Kubista | Elements
|From start to finish, every single point of contact within the organization must deliver on its brand promise. Internal communications make up every communication touchpoint or contact with a company’s people. This includes messages from leadership (or lack of) – whether delivered in person or in writing.|
The Foundation for Effective Brand Communications
By Tim Kubista, Elements
Internal communications – ensuring that the entire organization is aligned – is just as important as external communications and is the starting point for effective brand communications. Effective internal communications have a powerful effect on productivity and a company’s ability to achieve its goals.
Your measure of effectiveness with internal communications will have a direct impact on how well you represent your internal, and eventually your external, brand. Remember a brand is not a name or a logo. Brand is the identifying factor imprinted on the mind of a target audience, the psychological interaction that happens at the mere mention of a name. It represents how someone feels about a product or company. Those feelings and emotions are the sum of every interaction that has occurred with that brand over time. The interactions either build or erode trust, and trust is the foundation of all successful brands. This, in turn, lends invaluable weight and meaning to every message, every visual cue, every point of contact between a brand and its audience.
Your people must understand, embrace and live your brand. If your people don’t understand and embrace your brand, how can you expect potential customers to? How well your people understand and represent your brand will define your culture.
From start to finish, every single point of contact within the organization must deliver on its brand promise. Internal communications make up every communication touchpoint or contact with a company’s people. This includes messages from leadership (or lack of) – whether delivered in person or in writing. It includes behavior; everything from ethics, hours kept, work atmosphere, dress and demonstrated values. Also office design and layout – an open, casual, modern office design sends a completely different message about the brand than an outdated, stuffy office.
Internal communications are more than communications from the human resource department. Certainly communications from this department are part of internal communications, but to be clear, it is not about relegating internal communications to the human resource team or to forms, newsletters and the almighty employee handbook. Challenge yourself to go beyond and instead communicate purposefully to your people.
Building a company around a powerful brand requires a champion. This is one of the key roles the CEO plays. The CEO and his leadership team must communicate internally and externally what the brand stands for. This becomes even more critical in fast growing companies. It is important that the company have communications systems and tools in place to ensure the vision and culture of the brand remain intact as the company grows. The entire organization, from the lowest ranks to the executive levels, must embrace and execute on the brand.
Internal communications must be directed with a joint effort from the CEO and the communications department. It is the responsibility of the CEO to establish the vision and with the assistance of the communications department, communicate that vision.
Why do internal communications matter? Manage your message, or someone else will. It is that simple. Left unattended all of the touchpoints and points of communication mentioned will still exist. However, they will not likely reflect the brand desired by leadership and your brand will not be understood by your people.
If you ask your senior leadership team some basic questions about your brand, do they answer consistently? Ask them: How would you describe our brand to someone who doesn’t know us? What would you say our brand is best known for? What reason can you give prospective customers to do business with us? If there is discrepancy in the answers to these questions, your brand is weak and diluted. If senior leadership lacks clarity, there are likely significant communications gaps throughout the organization.
Now that you have decided to make internal communications a priority, where do you start? The CEO must make a commitment to be personally involved in refining and executing internal communications. Hire a communications person and make them part of the senior leadership team. Communications is not a junior position or something to be delegated to an administrative assistant. Responsibility for employee newsletters and other communications to your people should be moved from human resources to the communications department.
Communication is a process, not an event. That means you must work on it daily. Holding a big event to rally your people will be ineffective without follow-up. Key messages and behavior must be repeated over and over. Only once you have delivered your message so many times that you tire of it will the people around you begin to understand the messages. Deliver your messages though multiple communication vehicles to ensure that your people see and hear your brand messages frequently.
Define your brand and communicate it. When a company defines its brand, it becomes clear what the organization stands for. Companies with well-defined brands have increased market share, preferred status with customers, increased valuations, reduced turnover and a well-defined culture, aligning employees around a common purpose.
Internal communications is the foundation for effective brand communications. Define your brand and communicate it consistently to achieve organizational clarity. Creating organizational clarity and aligning your people around a common purpose will have a powerful effect on company performance. Your people will clearly understand what your brand stands for and why your customers desire to do business with you – and most importantly, how to communicate these messages.
Tim Kubista is a Brand Strategist at ELEMENTS, a renewable energy brand communications firm. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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