Create A Brand That Inspires

Create A Brand That Inspires

by Wolfgang Giehl, F. Joseph LePla


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It takes strength to compete. Becoming a well-known and well-regarded brand enhances a company's strength. Internal branding-especially in service industries-is essential for longevity, great competitive strength, and high financial value. Driven by a shared, authentic corporate culture and guided by top management, employees will build brand value in all their actions and interactions every day.
Create a Brand That Inspires: How to Sell, Organize, and Sustain Internal Branding effectively addresses three core brand management challenges in readers' organizations: selling the brand to senior management, organizing the brand on all management levels, and living the brand within each of the company's internal communities.
The book includes sixteen international case studies complete with pictures, interviews and examples from a wide range of industries. The long-term, hands-on experience of the co-authors and their unique perspectives on how to successfully develop and manage internal branding make this study a rewarding read for executives, managers and team leaders.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467039529
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 05/02/2012
Pages: 232
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.53(d)

Read an Excerpt


By Wolfgang Giehl F. Joseph LePla


Copyright © 2012 Wolfgang Giehl and F. Joseph LePla
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4670-3952-9

Chapter One

Branding Your Organization in an Online World

Internal branding is the process of aligning culture, infrastructure, leadership, and metrics. It empowers employees to live the brand through how they do their jobs, their internal and customer interactions, and personal expression.

Perhaps the world is getting smaller, but its impact on each of us is anything but small. Sometime around the end of the twentieth century, we gained the ability to instantly communicate with people anywhere in the world, and they with us. Through the web, people are now able to have relationships with anyone else who is plugged in from Surinam to Sri Lanka. This single change is having a greater impact on how organizations brand themselves than has anything else that has occurred in the last hundred years.

Where communications, such as advertising and public relations, used to be enough to build brand preference, these channels have been all but lost in the fire hose of information we experience each day. A weekday edition of the New York Times contains more information than the average person in 17th century England would have encountered in an entire lifetime. And now, the web has libraries of data available at our fingertips.

The Need for New Brand Constructs

By embracing this worldwide network of websites, blogs, and social networking sites, we have tapped into a new world in which brand identificationturnsintohelpingcustomersbuildtheiridentitiesandbrand experiences are seen as part of more encompassing brand community. We need to replace our old branding constructs with principles that take these changes into account. The new reality is that successful brands will be based more on individual employee expression and online group conversations that companies have little or no control over.

What does this mean for managing branded customer experiences? We need new ways of thinking that allow employees to more authentically connect with customers. What does this mean for branding your organization? On the downside, it will be much more difficult to influence customer opinions from the top. On the upside, potential customers can learn a lot more about why they should buy your products than they could in the past. If your brand is to thrive in this environment, you will need to have all of your ducks in a row. You will need to back up what you say with what you do and back up what you do with a deep understanding of your organization's true value.

In this new world, teaching people how to embrace change is a necessity. How your organization and employees represent your brand will evolve rapidly with every online conversation. As part of this process, companies will find themselves redefining roles from the CEO on down to empower corporate culture, brand alignment, and social expression.

The most frequent mistake that brand and marketing managers make is to assume that delivering high quality is the same as having a strong brand. Quality without a differentiated strategic direction won't get everyone on the same page and put scarce resources where they are needed most. It won't result in an ownable customer experience.

While management approaches such as Lean and Six Sigma improve company processes and quality, they don't deal with differentiation. If my company and one down the street provide the same service and adopt the same Lean practices, how does the customer choose between them? Brand is a definable and compelling set of differences in business approach and culture that lead to customer loyalty and relationships. Effective internal branding will give Lean and Six Sigma initiatives even more impact by focusing process development on activities that build brand difference. In turn, Lean and Six Sigma will provide a more functional and clearer-thinking organization in which brand building can thrive.

How ready are you to build your brand? Here are some questions to help you assess your current brand-building capabilities. This will provide you with the information to answer each one of these questions and translate your answers into action.

• Do you have a clear and actionable brand promise?

• Does the promise include actionable brand tools such as a strategic role, a guiding principle, culture norms, a story, and a personality?

• Do you use your brand to develop strategy?

• Have you hired employees who buy into your brand?

• Are employees brand ambassadors?

• Are brand goals integrated into employee performance expectations?

• Does human resources use change management principles?

• Do your employee social media guidelines integrate your brand approach?

People Make the Difference

Whether you work in a product or service business, a for-profit or not-for-profit, it is ultimately people who make the difference. Your employees, from research and development (R&D) to customer support, create and deliver your uniquely branded experience. It's your employees who form the unbreakable relationships between you and your customers. In short, your employees must live your brand for sustainable success. But a well-defined brand only creates a framework and direction for employee behaviors and specific actions; living the brand is ultimately the way to energize the talents and enthusiasm of employees as they forge their own unique takes on your brand.

What does effective internal branding look like? It aligns all employees—including those in the back office and in supporting roles as well as those on the front lines—with your brand promise. It arms all employees with actionable brand tools, which are the compass that enables them to deliver consistent customer experiences. It supports and builds the corporate culture into something that is rewarding to employees and that delivers the company's brand experience.

Research on the interrelation between family and work demonstrate that company culture can influence productivity. An employee's work environment is a key consideration in creating company loyalty. Many companies benefit from a positive culture, while others suffer from negative cultural consequences. In October 2009, France Telecom deputy CEO Louis-Pierre Wenes resigned after a number of employees committed suicide. 24 workers committed suicide in the space of 18 months; some left notes blaming the company's culture and management style for increasing pressure and misery at work.

This study takes that premise one step further. Culture does more than build employee identification with the company. Culture is a key delivery system for your brand experience to both other employees and customers.

Business-to-Business Branding Is as Important as Consumer Branding

With 3 of the top 5 brands being B2B brands in a recent Interbrand study, it's clear that people don't have two separate modes for making business choices versus personal choices. In a recent study conducted by DHL, the company found that its customers, particularly in its supply chain business, chose it because of the trust they had in the brand. The DHL brand reassured customers that they were getting the right information and that such information would be easy to understand. These customers felt that using DHL's products reflected positively on their professionalism.

We've also seen no difference between companies that offer services as products versus those that offer more tangible products. We think that internal branding is critical to service brands because it helps services to create compelling points of difference. Throughout, when we refer to product we'll be using the term to include companies that offer a service as their product. When we talk about customer service, we'll be talking about the way in which customers are treated by the company.

Key Measures of effectiveness

Do you already have a strong brand? See how your organization measures up.

• Clarity is at the heart of an effective brand.

  •   Can employees talk in a compelling and consistent way about the value you bring to your customers and constituents?

  •   Do they understand the difference between providing a quality experience and a branded experience?

  •   Do they know how to act in ways that demonstrate and build brand value?

  •   Do customers have a good understanding of where you are going?

    • Authenticity breaks through the noise and builds long-term relationships.

  •   Do employees believe that their managers and senior team are walking the talk?

  •   Do a significant percentage of employees feel deeply connected to your organization?

  •   Have employees emotionally bought into your story in a way that shines through in their conversations?

  •   Would you sacrifice short-term profitability to keep your promise?

    • Transparency demonstrates that you are trustworthy.

  •   Do leaders and managers keep their promises to employees?

  •   Does the company keep its promises to customers?

  •   Do you communicate with employees with frequency about all aspects of the organization?

  •   Are your leaders engaged with your brand community online and off?

    • Accountability allows you to see progress.

  •   Do you measure employee brand competency?

  •   Do you measure aided and unaided brand/value awareness?

  •   Do you measure any gap between what customers value and how well you perform?

  •   Do you measure the strength of your company culture and brand community?

  •   Do you take action based on what you measure?

    Case study: encouraging employee Brand action [Ballard Power systems]

    A small firm in British Columbia called Ballard Power Systems received a visit from engineers and purchasing staff of one of the major US automobile manufacturers. The auto company's delegation took a tour of Ballard's facilities and then met the researchers in the lab to discuss the progress of their mutual technical projects and to search for more solutions. After a while, the meeting was interrupted for a lunch break.

    One of the Ballard technicians chose to be absent during lunch. When the visitors returned to the laboratory, this technician showed them a rough model of the idea that had been discussed just that morning. He had quickly constructed the model in the workshop during the lunch break.

    "That would have taken us 3 weeks," said one of the Americans, "including the 2 weeks to reserve time in the workshop."

    That evening, the same technician did not attend dinner. Instead, he built the actual device and, by midnight, was far enough along that he was able to connect it to a test bench. The test results were ready in time for the meeting with the visitors the next morning. In 24 hours, the employee created results that the visiting team claimed would have taken anywhere from 7 weeks to 3 months in their own company.

    People who have studied Ballard point to the energy and self-direction of the company's employees and their identification with the company as the decisive reasons for its extraordinary success.

    Ballard exemplifies an important aspect of internal branding. Every company has a unique approach to developing and delivering its products or customer service. Employees who are aligned with that unique approach make a huge difference in how compelling a brand and its products are to customers. One result of this alignment is strong and lasting customer relationships. Companies that then extend this approach to their marketing benefit from the additional leverage of a brand that is completely integrated inside and out.

    Companies that do internal branding well, like Ballard, are deliberate in their efforts to align employee behavior with company strategy and goals. They nurture a company culture that supports employee behavior based on their unique, branded approach to delivering products or customer service. While they may set up practice and procedure guidelines that are customer-directed, they also empower employees to use brand-informed judgment to better serve the customer. Employees understand the promise they are keeping and can then apply their knowledge of that promise to all decisions and actions.

    What typifies Ballard's brand approach and culture? Ballard's brand promise is "to be an R&D leader in fuel cells resulting in application-specific product quality and performance." Another part of their promise includes "hiring employees who have a deep knowledge of fuel cell technology." They translate this approach to employee action by encouraging employees to invent and innovate. Internal branding works better in companies that practice a flatter management style instead of a centralized command-and-control style. That's because employee empowerment taps into each worker's creativity and allows decisions to be made with the best information closest to the problem. Empowerment has the added benefit of allowing a company to respond quickly to change.

    Employee empowerment is reflected in two key aspects of Ballard's organizational style: role models who are inspirational (the confidence and sincerity of the Ballard founders is contagious) and fewer bureaucratic or hierarchical restrictions.

    Ballard also employs other brand tools. Cultural norms are building blocks of organizational culture. These can be defined as a shared set of actionable values. Here are some of Ballard's cultural norms:

    Helping society: The company works on technology intended to solve environmental problems.

    Goal achievement: The company has regularly been able to increase the performance of its products.

    Success you can see and feel: Results are used as models for demonstration and presentation of effective practices.

    Making a difference

    The essential importance of each person's work

    Employee ownership: Ballard employees at all levels are shareholders in the company.

    Pride: Ballard employees consider it an honor to work for their company.

    Flexibility: The company allows flexible working hours and habits; the result is what counts.

    Chapter Two

    Understanding Internal Branding

    The Brand Promise and How to Keep It

    We define an organization's brand as resulting from the promise it keeps. In order to make and keep that promise, an organization's internal branding and external brand expression must be two sides of the same coin. When we use the term brand, our primary focus is the organization's brand—also known as the umbrella brand or master brand—not specific product brands.

    How employees demonstrate and express your brand is critical to company success. Whatever business goals you set and employee behaviors you measure will be what are experienced by your customers. Behaviors are specific and repeatable actions that can be identified. They are how you live your brand in your corporate culture.

    Employees and customers have slightly different relationships with your brand. Employees' views of the brand are more likely to be influenced by the company's reality through their everyday working experiences. This means that, even when negative things like internal cost cutting are happening, the customer view of the brand can remain more or less intact. If a crisis occurs, as in the case of the employee suicides at France Telecom, a company can reinforce the external identity without losing too much brand equity.

    But if your external brand communications don't align with how you act over time, your brand will suffer. While it used to take time for unaligned communications and actions to be perceived as such by customers, this customer perception lag has been greatly reduced in this time of instant communications and social communities.

    The same alignment is needed for an employer brand. It's essential for employees to value the same things about the brand's product and services as customers do for long-term success. That doesn't mean that the organization shouldn't pay attention to creating an attractive working environment, but treating the working environment as if it were a separate brand leads to employee confusion and separates employees from customers. Without customers, there would be no brand.

    Brands are about Becoming and Being

    Internal branding is a process of becoming what you desire to be. The process of becoming begins with understanding what a company can own over time, how it's organized, how employees are empowered, and how to build a strong brand community.

    While there are several brand models in use, most will share several common elements.

    • A brand promise composed of brand tools and expressed in brand messaging.

    • Brand tools that summarize the core concepts of the brand so that employees can live them.


    Excerpted from CREATE A BRAND THAT INSPIRES by Wolfgang Giehl F. Joseph LePla Copyright © 2012 by Wolfgang Giehl and F. Joseph LePla. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
    Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

  • Table of Contents


    Introduction: Internal Branding's Evolution....................1
    Section I: Selling Internal Branding to Your Organization....................5
    Chapter 1: Branding Your Organization in an Online World....................7
    Chapter 2: Understanding Internal Branding....................15
    Chapter 3: Selling Internal Branding to Your Senior Team....................27
    Chapter 4: Branding the Organization....................37
    Chapter 5: The Rise of the Employee Ambassador....................49
    Chapter 6: Building Organizational Cultures That Build Competitive Advantage....................59
    Section II: Organizing Internal Branding....................69
    Chapter 7: Integrating Internal Branding into the Organization....................71
    Chapter 8: Defining the CEO Role....................84
    Chapter 9: Using Brand Architecture to Focus Your Internal Branding....................96
    Chapter 10: Creating Understandable and Compelling Brand Strategies....................107
    Chapter 11: Creating an Employee Culture That Builds Your Brand Community....................115
    Chapter 12: Developing Employee Brand Ambassadors....................127
    Chapter 13: Rewarding the Moment of Truth....................142
    Chapter 14: Translating Brand Tools into Operational Reality....................149
    Section III: Sustaining Your Brand....................165
    Chapter 15: Internal Branding Measurement....................167
    Chapter 16: Surviving the Visionary....................178
    Chapter 17: The Future Is for the Agile....................186
    About the Authors....................205
    About the Book....................207

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