Jeff Smith

The Internal Brand Starts With The External Brand

Your external brand or consumer brand, lives in a competitive environment alongside thousands of other brands. In order to stand out among the competition, brands do their best to differentiate themselves from others while remaining consistent – same logo, same colors, same fonts.

Internal communications departments often use their external branding for emails, the intranet, digital signage, and the like. Internally, your communications aren’t seen in rotation with other brands. Your audience can tire of the same thing over and over because there are no other brands working in the space to break up that experience. Oversaturating your internal communications with your external brand will eventually make your efforts invisible to the workforce.

Leverage your internal brand to create a more engaging experience by developing an internal brand. By expanding and building upon your external brand, a unique branding will emerge that employees already recognize. Not only will a fresh and expansive internal brand renew their desire to be engaged with, but it also acts as a cue for them to know that those communications are meant for them only.

We suggest developing your internal brand by creating the following:

  • Employer brand rallying cry
  • Adding additional colors to the existing brand palette
  • Design motif for backgrounds and other uses
  • Building a library of original employee photography

The internal brand should be authentic, genuine, and support the external brand. A good internal brand can transform your internal communications and create a better experience for your employees.

Need help with an internal brand? Tribe can help.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

The Power of Not Doing: Improve Internal Communications by Doing Less

When’s the last time you did an audit of your internal communications channels? Most large companies use a myriad of channels and continue to add more, especially with emerging technology offering new options at a steady rate. You do need a varied mix of channels, because different employees like to be consume information in different ways, but do you have too many ways you’re communicating?

In “Strategy is Deciding What Not to Do,” Tim Williams describes Steve Jobs’  decision to cancel more than 300 ongoing projects in favor of focusing on just four. “By narrowing instead of expanding, Apple started down the path to becoming the most valuable company on the planet,” he writes.

Our experience at Tribe mirrors this, although on a vastly different scale. In 2009, we made the commitment to focus only on internal communications for large brands. When prospects or current clients asked for consumer branding, a field in which we’d built our careers, we referred them to other agencies we knew would do a great job for them.

The payoff was building a deep expertise in this narrow niche of internal branding.  The more we worked with large companies on specific employee communications issues, the more we learned. We began to see the same challenges repeated across companies and industries, and were able to take what we learned solving one client’s challenges as a shortcut to solutions for the next. There’s power in choosing not to do something.

The same can be true for your company’s internal communications mix. Most internal communications departments we see are stretched mighty thin. When you added a quarterly employee magazine, did you consider retiring the weekly newsletter? Do you still print posters even though you have digital signage in all your locations? Do you maintain multiple intranet-like sites? Are you still posting stuff on Yammer even though most employees aren’t using it anymore?

Discontinuing channels that aren’t working effectively is good discipline. Not only will it allow you to focus on doing a better job at fewer things, it can improve employees’ experience of internal communications. By limiting the places they feel like they’re supposed to check, you help them process communications more efficiently and effectively.

Interested in taking stock of your portfolio of internal communications channels? Tribe can help.




3 Ways to Build Your Employer Brand With Job Candidates

The impression you give during the application and interview process can have a significant impact your company’s employer brand. It’s easy to assume the task of making a positive mark falls in the interviewee’s court. However, displaying attentiveness and grace throughout this process can help attract the best and brightest potential employees. Below are three tips on how to amaze prospective job candidates and compel them to work for your company.

  1. Be thoughtful. No one likes to think they’ve wasted their time when applying for a job. From the research of the company to the cover letter to the resume, a job application is no easy task. Keeping this in mind, a simple courtesy like alerting the job candidate in a timely manner if you have to reschedule can make a decisive impact on your company’s employer brand.
  1. Make them feel comfortable. Pointblank: interviews are scary. Even if the jobseeker is a highly-qualified professional with years of experience, interviewing could easily turn them into a jumble of nerves. Show you care by making an effort to make them comfortable. Offering a coffee or a cold drink when they arrive, or giving a few minutes to use the restroom between multiple interviewers can help candidates feel relaxed and ready to put their best best foot forward.
  1. Take the time to say no. While it’s natural to focus on the candidate is offered the job, don’t forget to reach out to those who weren’t. Showing attentiveness to each and every interviewee can make positive waves on your company’s employer brand. In Tribe’s research with jobseekers regarding the hiring process, 87 percent of respondents said that in situations where they were not hired, but had a positive experience such as very personal or courteous treatment, they would be “likely to encourage others to apply to that company in the future.”

Interested in improving your recruitment culture? Tribe can help.

Steve Baskin

Avoiding the trap of treating employees like a second-class audience

Why would we treat employees any differently than we’d treat prospective customers? If it’s important to communicate a message to employees, then it’s worth putting the same attention to detail and quality of execution into the work as we would with external communications.

Tribe’s experience is that many companies don’t make this a priority. After getting to the finish line recently with a fairly complex internal communications piece, the timing of some of the marketing elements had shifted which rendered some of the details incorrect. Because of the expense of reprinting the physical piece, a decision was made to send a note accompanying the piece explaining the last-minute changes and that some of the information was incorrect.

The company wouldn’t send a note along with a TV spot explaining that some of the details are wrong. If the piece had been intended for consumers, you can be sure the materials would be revised – whatever the cost. I’ve been there and done that. Heads might roll, but the company would never knowingly send out consumer marketing that’s wrong.

Companies typically spend tens of millions, hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars per year to reach consumers. Research and results in the marketplace tell these marketers that this is money well spent. After all, we don’t know exactly who these consumers are, so it takes a large investment to find those consumers in order to build demand and loyalty for our products.

However, the inverse argument is a weak one. Some would say that since we know exactly who our employees are, we don’t need to assign the same importance, or budgets, for internal communications and the employee brand. This supports the view that employees are second-class citizens and a fine place to cut corners and costs whenever necessary.

At Tribe, we see the employer brand as the intersection of the consumer promise and whether that promise is kept. Employees are consumers. They’re bombarded with brand communications every day. They can discern thoughtful communications from boring mumbo jumbo. As internal communications professionals, our job is to understand what’s being promised externally and ensure that we’re matching that promise step for step internally.

We recommend the same high standards for internal communications as the company’s external marketing. As communications professionals, we need to understand the business need and objectives behind any internal campaign. It should be interesting and engaging. It should involve multiple channels to ensure that our audience is reached. We should be able to measure the effectiveness of the campaign in order to improve our efforts the next time around.

The great news is that we don’t need tens of millions of dollars to execute effective internal communications plans. We know who our target audience is. But effective internal communications does require a focused and intense effort to ensure that what we’re living internally matches what we’re saying externally.

Interested in improving the caliber and effectiveness of your internal communications? Maybe Tribe can help.







Steve Baskin

How to be Compelling with Internal Communications (you’ll be floored by the fifth paragraph)

Different types of communications require different approaches. If you’re introducing a new executive or team member, perhaps a quick video interview with some accompanying text is the way to go. If you’re communicating quarterly earnings, then you’re probably better served to link to a PowerPoint or KeyNote document. It’s important to connect the message with the medium. It’s also important to understand that people consume information in different ways, so it’s nice to give them options.

An article on or Rolling Stone or The Onion is just as likely to include video, sound or photograph as text. A USA Today article is going to have a simple infographic. Fast Company is going to give us interestingly complex graphics. And when we’re consuming this information, we don’t think twice about clicking on the accompanying video to get additional perspective on the article or linking from an email to the larger article in another location.

These folks think of media formats in terms of colors on a palette. They use the medium that will best communicate the story. And they’re sure to use complementary formats to enhance or amplify the message.

If CNN or Rolling Stone were hired to communicate to your employees, their approach would likely be different from most internal communications teams. Instead of mass emailing an important new policy or corporate direction to all employees (then consider the job done), they’d likely send a brief headline and teaser article that directs the audience to their website. They would give us the option to consume the information in multiple ways – read the article or maybe watch a video. They’d provide links to related articles. Because of inherent biases or differentiating points of view (we call these values inside corporations), the communications to would almost always lean in a specific direction.

They would organize the information on their sites in a way that allow the user to easily navigate to subject areas that interest them. Perhaps most importantly, because it’s important for them to know what their audience is thinking at any given time, they’d offer the opportunity for employees to provide feedback and become a part of the discussion.

Our experience is that corporate communicators can be very reluctant toward this more holistic approach to communicating. I have emailed, therefore I have communicated. They’re often time-pressed and are more concerned with getting to the next thing versus adequately communicating the first.

With the recent and dramatic advances in communications technology in the office environment, it’s much easier build communications structures that work more like the ones employees regularly consume outside of the office. The model’s out there.

If it’s important for employees to be aware of and in tune with what’s going on inside the company (alignment with management’s vision), it’s important to find the creativity, the budgets and the man-hours to ensure that our communications get and keep their attention.

Got questions about asking compelling use of channels? TRIBE can help.

Communicating the Internal Brand Through all Levels of Employees

The internal brand is the heartbeat of your organization. Ideally, it’s the foundation in which you hire and retain employees, and ultimately affects the customer experience. You want your employees to live the brand and company values, but communicating the internal brand and culture typically needs to start at the top and be communicated down in order for this to happen. Below are three tips for ensuring your internal brand resonates with each employee.

Get senior leadership involved. They carry the most weight and have the most power over what is communicated through management down to all employees. When communicating the internal brand to a large employee base, it’s important to establish targeted messages so that each employee is clear on their role and how they contribute to the company as a whole. An example would be to use a new employee orientation program as an opportunity to communicate the internal brand and company culture. Include an information session and tangible take-aways like an info card or booklet.

Conduct focus groups. This may sound obvious, but one shouldn’t under estimate the valuable information that can come from employee focus groups. This is a great way to not only gauge employees’ knowledge of the brand, but can also be used as an information outlet and opportunity to receive feedback. You build employee trust by giving them a voice while opening up a forum for discussion. Also, make it fun. Prizes are always a good incentive to get people talking!

Make your messages clear and easy to understand. Employees are busy, so make sure the internal brand messages are clear, concise and structured in a way that will resonate with everyone. Also, pictures don’t hurt. The internal brand deserves the same caliber of both the writing and design as the consumer brand; so don’t be afraid to wow your employees.  Remember, there is no one size fits all, so try to develop and customize multiple levels of communications so all employee demographics can be reached.

Need help building or communicating your internal brand? Give us a call; we’d love to help!

External and Internal Branding: Should They Match?

Most companies know the importance of having a strong brand. It presents a face to the customer that they can form a relationship with and get to know. Companies that do well in the marketplace typically have a very strong and well-developed brand image.

But what about your internal brand? What kind of face does your company present to employees? This internal branding is just as important and brings up another good question – do your internal and external brands need to match?

For more information on marrying the internal and external brands, check out this blog post with tips on how to make cohesive branding a reality

Internal Branding: Aligning Multiple Brands Under One Corporation

With the constant flow of buy-ins, buy-outs and big corporate takeovers, the internal identity of an organization can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. An employee with a confident feeling about their company may become insecure about who they work for during changes and realignments.

As companies make these conversions, it’s important to be aware of the individual values and missions of each brand. If necessary, it may be a good idea to take some of the themes of each and combine them so they’re still relatable to the workforce. This helps create a single identity for the organization. Yes, most employees may serve only one brand, but helping them connect to the corporate body that runs the show will allow them to understand the bigger picture of where their brand is heading and why.

You want all of the brands to feel like one big happy family so share the news. One way of doing this is by developing an internal print publication. This can be a quarterly magazine that includes content about new products being developed by the different brands, charitable activities the corporation supports and anything else of interest to employees. When multiple copies of each issue are sent to every office, store or warehouse, it allows employees to not only see what’s going on with their brand, but keeps them up-to-date on the rest of the organization.

For 24/7 access to information on every brand in a corporation, build a company intranet. An internal website will help keep employees connected and will allow them to see the human side of the parent company through colorful imagery and a friendly tone. The website should include the standard administrative forms and documents employees need, but to help bring people together it should also include some social media aspects, idea generation platforms and tell the story of the people that make the company’s engine run.

Employee Value Propositions: Build A Strong Internal Brand

Employee value propositions (EVP) are a core component when building a strong internal brand. An EVP is the promise companies make that balances the rewards and benefits received by employees in return for their performance on the job. Successful EVPs are unique to the culture of your company, relevant to what your top talent wants and compelling enough to catch employees’ and prospects’ attention.  Strong EVPs will help build strong internal brands.

When developing your companies EVP, outline why your company’s offering or experience is better than that at another organization.  Think of two to three shiny hooks that will catch employees attention such as house cleaning services or errand runners, beer or coke machines, or a meditation room.  Then include the basics such as flex hours, on-site fitness facilities, favorable policies such as teleworking or relaxed dress code or anything else that would attract someone to want to work there.  Not only do these offerings attract top talent they will also be the reasons why your existing people will choose to commit themselves to the organization and be less likely to leave.

In addition to attracting, retaining and engaging top people, your EVP is part of your cultural DNA.  Your clients and customers will also experience the benefits and rituals that make your company unique. A strong EVP lends itself to engaged, happy employees who will naturally want to do the best they can to make sure the company is successful. Employees who are aware of everything thing the company offers them are strong brand ambassadors.

As with most elements of your internal brand, your EVP should be re-evaluated regularly.  What you are able to offer your employees and more importantly what your employees’ value will change over time.  Tribe recommends reviewing your EVP at annually to ensure it aligns with who you are as a company and what top talent wants.

Does the idea of employee value propositions intrigue you but you don’t know where to start?  Call Tribe, we would be happy to help.

The Internal Creative Caliber Must Match the External

Caliber is reached through consistency. The last few weeks we’ve focused some of our blogs on the internal vs. the external brand. One of the most important things is consistency. It’s not just the messaging that needs to be consistent; the caliber of the creative work needs to match as well. Your employees see the external brand and they notice when the internal isn’t the same caliber. They don’t take the messaging as seriously and it often doesn’t make as big as an impact as it could. The messaging might be spot on, but if the look isn’t right it can fall short.

It doesn’t have to be expensive. Internal budgets usually aren’t the same as marketing budgets but this doesn’t mean the creative caliber has to be poor. Really think about the consistency of your communications and not just the consistency of the messaging. The caliber has less to do with the budget and more to do with everything being on brand.

Use what you have. Brand standards are your friend. The best part is a lot of the groundwork has already been done. An easy way to maintain a consistent look is to use your external brand standards as a guide. We often recommend adapting them for your internal needs and creating your own set of standards that complement the external ones. Think about adding some additional colors or even a new typeface. This will help to set the internal brand apart.

Everything is part of the same family. One of the problems we see is every piece looking like a one off. Think of the internal brand as a family. Every piece has its own personality but they go together. A big reason why an external brand looks so good is because it all hangs together with a similar look and feel. By following your pre-set standards you are able to create the same feeling with your internal pieces.

In order for your creative caliber to stay high it’s going to take some enforcing. Make sure all your templates and logos are up to date. If you see someone using something that’s incorrect, help him or her by providing the right format. You have to involve everyone because it only takes one rogue newsletter to bring you down.