Many organizations believe that internal branding simply means letting employees know about new advertising campaigns. They believe it’s no more complicated than handing out t-shirts and hats to announce their latest name change or company vision. In reality, it’s nothing like that. Read on to learn what internal branding really is and how document management software (DMS) can play an important role in its implementation.


The Kellogg School of Management’s Definition of Internal Branding

It’s true that document management software isn’t always made palpable to an organization’s audience, but it is a solid technological backbone in line with the Kellogg School of Management’s famous term: internal branding.

According to the school, internal branding involves living corporate values from the inside out. The goal is to make the brand’s message more authentic and believable to the customer base. A large component of this strategy is empowering employees to be the best they can and to uphold the brand image. What better way to do this than by utilizing a technology like DMS?


Cultural branding as a cultural shift

Internal branding represents a cultural shift in which employees become more focused on customers, while maintaining their focus on the business. This is achieved via an organized, behavior-driven and communications-driven process.

At every level of the company, a single question should be answered: “What’s in it for me?” Once employees learn more about the new internal brand shift, they should each understand what is expected from them and how they personally can contribute to the success of the company. The behavior a company wants should be reinforced and their entire business process management (BPS) plan should assure that everything is in line: HR policies, marketing strategy and efforts, and internal communications.


The immense benefits of internal branding

There are many benefits to effective internal branding. Consider that a workforce that understands how their company operates, and how they can help it make more money, will perform better. The more committed employees are, the stronger their performance—and the better customer satisfaction will be.

There’s plenty of data supporting the connection between understanding and internal change. Take for example a study from McKinsey that concluded that the only time change-management programs found success was when employees at every level—from senior managers to middle managers and all the way to the front line—shared the will and had the skills to change.

They studied programs at more than 30 organizations and they discovered a significant correlation between positive skills for managing change and the value an organization takes away from these programs. The fact is that the more the workforce knows about the changes, the more convinced they are that they’ll work; the more supportive they are of the changes, the faster they can be implemented.

Changes that are strongly accepted are simply more sustainable and can save both money and time. Internal branding has been used to revitalize some of the biggest brands on the market: Starbucks, IBM, and even Walmart.


Tips for implementing internal branding

Understanding internal branding is a far cry from being able to implement it. While the specific steps taken will depend on the type of company working on their branding, there are some key elements that work for most companies.

  • Implement document management software. It assures all employees are on the same page, are using the same processes, and allows upper management to easily track who’s accessing documents and what they’re doing with them. There are many other advantages to implementing DMS, including quick and easy integration with other business process management programs, and mobile apps that allows users to access the documents they need when they need them.
  • Remember that internal branding is a sequential process. Employees achieve internal brand success—not companies. Communicating a message, ensuring it’s understood, and changing behavior of employees are three separate things and they must be address separately.
  • Senior leadership should be involved in the movement toward internal branding. This isn’t something that can be delegated or driven exclusively by managers.
  • For most companies, the first step is a clear vision and purpose. Companies who don’t know how to immediately answer questions about their vision and purpose need to have a senior team member work to first establish it and then convey it to employees through words and actions.
  • As with any goal, setting clear objectives and defining roles from the beginning is essential—just as it’s essential to revisit them from time to time to ensure employees are meeting them.

Is internal branding hard work? Of course it is—but it’s work that pays off. Document management systems play an integral part in helping companies set out and accomplish their internal branding goals.