The Internal Impact of External Branding

Conventional wisdom says branding is for external communication; it aims to influence current and prospective customers. But this view of branding is too narrow, especially when a company is trying to fundamentally redefine its business strategy.

Nowadays, companies in the throes of change need brand communication to affect their employees’ actions as much as it does their customers.

Indeed, for the many companies attempting to make the shift from selling lower-margin goods and services to offering higher-margin customized solutions, branding can serve a powerful internal purpose. When we are faced with this very challenge, the branding strategy is critical in uniting formerly divided business-unit and product-oriented management factions behind new shared goals and strategies to deliver solutions.

Clearly, promoting a cohesive image to the outside world is only a first step: unifying operations so that everyone internally identified first with the enterprise as a whole is absolutely needed. Key customers need to see a unitary brand before they encountered a subbrand every time a sales or service person contact them. This is needed to be accomplished while continuing to leverage the equities in existing brands.

Internally, specific structural changes and inducements, are needed in order to promote unity, not simply ask for it:

  • a clear, articulated vision and mission statement
  • rolled up individual brand financial targets into group targets, making them internally public
  • new product platforms to connect content from different business units
  • consolidated and centralized customer invoicing and customer service processes
  • new advertising, marketing collateral, trade exhibits, and internal communications that for the first time demonstrated a unified image

Why is branding critical? It gives a competitive advantage in challenging economic times. And, internally, it reinforces our strategy and motivates people to be focused on clear, shared goals

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