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Building Your Brand Identity from Within

May 4th, 2011

All too often, marketers wrap up their company brand in their graphic identity – their logo, website, presentation materials, product packaging, etc. – and stop there. In doing so, they fail to recognize the cardinal rule of branding: that a brand identity isn’t tied to a logo or aesthetic, but rather to What You Stand For: your reason for being, explained in succinct, inspirational language.

To determine What You Stand For, ask yourself three simple questions: What? How? Why?

Most employees can probably tell you about your offering, often referencing a laundry list of products and services. A smaller cohort can tell you how they do it – what approach and philosophy sets their company apart from competitors. But how many employees can tell you why? Chances are there’s a lack of clarity as to what your company stands for.

What You Stand For should be reinforced in your mission, values, graphic identity, tagline and customer touch points. For it to endure, it must be easily understood, internalized and acted on by employees at all levels of the company. Without reinforcement and promotion from within, your branding initiative will fail.

So how do you successfully introduce a new brand identity or reinforce an existing one? Through a balanced combination of Culture Infusion, Scheduled Communications and Credibility Initiatives.

  1. Culture Infusion consists of efforts to provide tangible and visible everyday reminders of your brand promise. Tactics range from distributing culture cards for employees to keep in their wallet for easy reference to making culture a key aspect of new employee orientation.
  2. Scheduled Communications consist of regular internal communications to reinforce your brand. Examples include communications from the CEO to reinforce key messages, hosting a company-wide Culture Day and publishing a monthly newsletter to recognize brand ambassadors and their stories.
  3. Credibility Initiatives address key barriers to achieving your desired brand identity. Ultimately, this involves a willingness to adjust longstanding processes and a commitment to hire and fire based on your values and culture.

It takes combining elements of Culture Infusion, Scheduled Communications and Credibility Initiatives to foster a culture change in your company. Only then will you successfully build your brand from within and convert employees into brand ambassadors who live the best qualities of your brand.

Specific efforts to build your brand from within will vary depending on the type of company and the existing company culture. For some ideas, read our blog post Experiencing Culture from Zappos, where we share best practices from our visit to the company ranked #15 on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Brand Speak: What other companies do you feel have successfully built their brands from within?

Posted Under: Agency Insider, Branding
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One Response to “Building Your Brand Identity from Within”

  1. Sam Schwarz says:

    Southwest Airlines is another great example. The business model may be no frills, but their customer service approach is anything but. I still recall the first time I heard the flight crew turn the standard safety spiel into a comedic performance (“There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this aircraft…”) Southwest has really empowered its employees to champion its culture and spread the LUV to passengers.

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