By Adrian Swinscoe, Director, RARE Business

When you hear the word ‘marketing’ what do you think about? Most people will think of marketing to new or existing customers. Simply, they will think of marketing as an externally-focused business function. Ask the same sort of question of ‘branding’ and you will get a similar response...it’s an externally-focused function.

I believe that an organisation’s brand does not belong to them but belongs to their customers. The organisation’s role is to manage, develop and protect it. There is an saying, often attributed to Jeff Bezos of Amazon, that says:
"your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room."

So, what about branding and marketing to your internal customers — your employees, stakeholders and investors? Done right they will become walking, talking advocates for your business. However, most organisations spend little time, attention, or money on internal marketing and branding, such as making sure employees understand the brand and communicate it well. Do your employees know and live your brand? Are they brand champions?

Wondering why I am going on about this and why it is important? Well, in a 2009 study conducted by Edelman, a leading independent global PR firm, they found that the most trusted information from a company comes from the following areas:

- Industry or stock reports — 47%

- Articles in business magazines — 44%

- Conversations with your friends and peers — 40%

- Conversations with company employees — 40%

- A company’s own web site — 24%

- Business advertising and branding — 13%

These results may make the case for internal branding efforts but they are made more significant in that trust about information from a business has dropped significantly from ’08 to ’09, and looks set to drop further in the future. However, what is great for businesses and organisations is that employees are still a highly trusted source of information.

Your people are an integral part of your brand and these results make communicating your brand values and aligning your employees to them more important than selling the brand on the outside.

Something to think about?

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