Internal Branding

By Rodger Jones, Director Brand Strategy, BBN USA | 2 min read

Engaging employees can bring a brand to life

When marketers contemplate bringing a brand to life, thoughts often flow to the traditional four P’s of the marketing mix: product, price, place and promotion. Yet, many prosperous business leaders today would argue that the traditional four P’s overlook the most important aspect of building a successful brand: the people.

Many experts agree that it is the employees, through their understanding of and belief in a company’s philosophy, who truly build the customers’ image of an organization. Nicholas Ind, a writer and brand consultant, says an organization’s focus should be more on “bringing a company’s ideology to life internally to enhance brand value” because long-term brand — and business — success depends on the customer experience. Employee actions and behaviors have a direct impact on customer experiences.¹

The business case for engaging employees

Kevin Kruse, Forbes contributor and New York Times best-selling author, says employee engagement is the intellectual and emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.² Engaged employees possess a high level of enthusiasm and dedication to their work, and they often go beyond what is expected.³,⁴ They care about their work and about the performance of the company, understand their roles and feel their efforts make a difference.

What’s concerning is that, according to the 2017 Gallup State of the Global Workplace report, engaged employees are not very common, with just 15 percent of employees worldwide saying they are engaged in their work. In the United States, employees are more engaged, with 33 percent of those participating saying they are engaged in their jobs.³ According to Gallup and other firms like it, increasing employee engagement should become a strategic priority, if it is not already. ⁵,⁶ Some experts believe that employee engagement will be the most critical metric for organizations in the 21st century.⁷

There are benefits of engaging employees as well as potential impacts nonengaged employees can have on an organization’s bottom line. Successful companies, such as Zappos and Nike, know that engaged employees mean not only competitive differentiation but also real financial and emotional benefits. Companies with highly engaged employees have higher customer satisfaction, profitability and productivity, while experiencing lower turnover, less absenteeism, fewer safety incidents and fewer quality defects.³

Internal branding is one of the most successful methods to foster workforce engagement. Many companies are investing in brand building internally, recognizing that their employees’ interactions with customers are the primary way an organization delivers its brand promise

Successful internal branding initiatives involve top leadership support, leading by example, developing an organizational mission that all can believe in, involving employees in the process so they can internalize the brand and providing employees with tools and resources so they can live the brand on a daily basis.⁸ When employees are given guidance and resources supporting the brand, they feel empowered to live the brand.⁹ Often, organizations enlist internal brand ambassadors to guide these ongoing initiatives and help bring their colleagues on board so all in the organization are living up to the brand promise.

The BBN Brand Asset Management (BAM) model provides processes and methods that can be utilized to help employees become passionate brand advocates who deliver positive customer experiences to increase business performance. Within BAM, the Internal Activation module serves to create the internal strategy to guide the development of effective internal marketing communications for engaging employees to bring a brand to life.

To see how BBN helped Mercedes' MDC Power with an internal branding assignment, check out this case study


1 Ind N. Living the brand: how to transform every member of your organization into a brand champion. 3rd ed. London: Kogan Page Limited London; 2007.

2 Kruse K. What Is Employee Engagement? Forbes. June 22, 2012. engagement-what-and-why/#611325774629. Accessed March 1, 2016.

3 Gallup Inc. State of the Global Workplace. Gallup Press, 1330 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY. Published October 2017.

4 AON Hewitt. 2014 Trends in Global Employee Engagement. 2014. leadership/talent_mgmt/2014-trends-in-global-employee-engagement.jsp. Published April 2014. Accessed March 1, 2016.

5 Reilly R. Five Ways to Improve Employee Engagement Now. Gallup Business Journal. January 7, 2014. Accessed March 1, 2016.

6 Berry LL. Cultivating Service Brand Equity. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Sciences. 2000;28(1):128-137.

7 Siddhanta A, Roy D. Employee engagement – Engaging the 21st century workforce. Asian Journal of Management Research. 2010:170-189.

8 Harris P. We the People: The importance of employees in the process of building customer experience. Journal of Brand Management. 2007;15(2):102-114.

9 King C, Grace D. Internal Branding: Exploring the employee’s perspective. Journal of Brand Management. 2008;15(5):358-372.