Why is building an internal brand important?

Kate Whitley - Profile image
By Kate Whitley
Client Services Director

While your external brand inspires engagement, purchase and loyalty from your customers, your internal brand – also referred to as your employer brand – inspires engagement, performance and loyalty from your employees.

Your internal brand messaging strategy sets out and communicates your:

  • Business purpose and values
  • Employee policies
  • Reward and recognition
  • Learning and development opportunities
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB)
  • Sustainability – Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)
  • Recruitment and onboarding processes
  • Team building activities
  • Workplace wellbeing initiatives
  • Charitable commitments and CSR

The ultimate goal of an internal brand strategy is to ensure employees not only have clarity on and buy into your company’s purpose and culture – but also have access to the skills, resources and empowerment to live it fully. 

Let’s explore what makes a cohesive internal brand message and why it’s important, as well as the impact on talent attraction and retention, employee engagement and motivation when your internal brand is embedded and communicated effectively.

Why your internal branding matters

There are plenty of compelling statistics demonstrating the value of investing in, developing and communicating your internal brand:

What makes employees buy into your internal brand?

Purpose

Your organisation’s purpose tells your employees why your business exists. It clearly communicates how their role makes a positive difference, not only to your customers but to the world. In essence, your purpose motivates your people by showing them they are part of something bigger.

Examples of clear, powerful purpose statements are:

  • “Breakthroughs that change patients’ lives.” – Pfizer
  • “Refresh the world. Make a difference.” – Coca-Cola
  • “To nourish people and the planet.” – Whole Foods
  • “Make it easier for people to do themselves some good.” – Innocent Drinks

It’s not just enough to pin your purpose statement to the wall and expect your employees to understand how it impacts their behaviour and performance. It must be embedded into everything you do, in every business decision you make, and throughout your internal communications.

> Want to know more? Read our Complete Guide to Purpose in Business

Opportunity

The opportunities you offer employees are a vital component of your internal brand strategy, as they show how you value and look after your people.

Key opportunities for employees to communicate in your internal branding are:

  • Access to professional training to build skills and confidence
  • Development and leadership programmes for managers
  • Inter-departmental training and communication
  • A commitment to enhancing ‘soft’ skills such as communication and resilience
  • Promotion of emotional, mental and physical wellbeing
  • Paid leave to volunteer with charities
  • Employee reward programmes
  • Executive reward schemes
  • Career mapping

Each of these works together to create a compelling company culture that is an authentic reflection of your employer brand.

To ensure your internal brand has integrity, all opportunities you offer employees should clearly and demonstrably align with your purpose.

Diversity & Inclusion

Your commitment to diversity and inclusion matters more than ever. Increasing pressure is being put on brands to clearly state what actions you are taking to reflect diversity within your communities, employees and audiences.  Acknowledging and celebrating that diversity and inclusion should be woven throughout your brand messaging.

These actions might include:

  • Being transparent about the gender pay gap in your company and what you’re doing to close it
  • Acknowledging, learning about and accommodating a variety of religious holidays
  • Having clear anti-discrimination policies and enforcing them whenever necessary
  • Uncovering and addressing unconscious bias within your organisation
  • Celebrate diversity by engaging in Pride Month, Black History Month, International Women’s Day, etc
  • Promoting collective responsibility amongst your employees and being open to challenge
  • Establishing Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to provide peer-to-peer support, empower colleagues in their career development, and contribute to work-based personal development

Belonging

No matter what they’re going through in their personal or professional lives, ensure your employees don’t feel like they’re alone. Show them they’re surrounded by support and are part of a team where they are valued, seen, heard, and appreciated.

When employees feel supported in their role and that they are making a significant contribution to a company’s overall purpose, the workplace becomes a source of security and wellbeing rather than contributing to their stress.

If your employees feel they can be fully themselves, fulfil their aspirations at work and that the company truly cares about them and their future, they’re more likely to develop a growth mindset, enhancing performance and productivity. When your people feel they belong, they carry your company forwards, together.

What’s the impact of a robust internal brand?

It pays to invest in a robust internal brand strategy, as it can have a huge impact on talent attraction and retention, as well as employee engagement and performance.

Talent attraction and retention

Employee engagement, motivation and productivity

A strong internal brand not only attracts and retains the right talent, it also empowers your talent to perform to the best of their ability. 

When you give your internal brand the importance it deserves, and invest in communicating your brand internally in a way that’s bold, inspiring and creative, it benefits your business reputation and performance by ensuring understanding, clarity and buy-in from your employees.

When your employees are personally invested and engaged in what you’re up to in the world as an organisation, they’re empowered to drive your business forward.