Employees being engaged with a brand is one thing, having ‘Internal Brand Love’ is another thing entirely.
We all know that colleagues react in exactly the same way that an external consumer audience would. Therefore, using the appropriate channels to create a positive level of communication is essential.
With that goal in mind, let’s take a look at some stats that present challenges:
- 92% of consumers trust user generated content as opposed to brands (Neilsen)
- The average time spent in a job for workers aged 25 to 34 is 3.2 years (BLS)
- Employment growth was driven by non-UK nationals in the final three months of 2016 compared with a year earlier. A total of 3.48 million in comparison to 1 million in 1997 (The Guardian)
As we all know, the key agenda for all Internal Communications professionals is to build staff retention, whilst attracting new talent.
If you can reiterate internal value, you will cement a bond between teams and brand.
The ‘Google’ effect
If you are an Internal Comms professional and the ‘Google Effect‘ is the holy grail for you, having new workers tripping over themselves to be part of your team is only going to happen if they have Internal Brand Love.
Get it right and just think, you could have a film made about your company culture one day…
With all that in mind, what can we learn from brands out there who are clearly very good at attracting and engaging staff?
When it comes to Internal Brand Love, the proof is in the Chicken
One of those brands in my opinion has to be Nando’s.
If you aren’t familiar with one of the UK’s most popular casual dining restaurants, let me give you a quick rundown:
- Nando’s began in 1987, after entrepreneurs Robert Brozin and Fernando Duarte visited Johannesburg restaurant Chickenland
- Nando’s Chickenland was named after Duarte (and his son who shared his name), who was a Portuguese national living in South Africa
- At present there are 1,051 Nando’s restaurants globally, with the UK being the country with the most branches – 315!
- With ten restaurants, Manchester has the highest branch to population density in the country
- People who work at Nando’s are known as Nandocas
Now, a brand that has a name for its staff (Nandocas is the name that Nando’s gives to its new starter ‘family’), will instantly start to install a sense of belonging in a team.
It is basic human nature to be part of a tribe and Nando’s engineer that in a very impressive way.
Following on from the Nandocas, the next aspirational jump for a member of the Nando’s team is to ‘Patrãos‘, which is the name that the business gives to its general managers.
Reading further into the Nando’s job description for the Patrãos, it’s less about being a ‘manager’ and more so about leading.
Publicly, here’s how the company describes the Patrãos:
Inspirers and observers. Wingmen and urgers. Ice-breakers, selfie-takers, relationship-makers. Being a manager at Nando’s goes far beyond the profit and loss of your restaurant. That’s important, of course, but your most important role is to create unforgettable experiences for our customers and for your team.
All things considered, as you read this you may be thinking…
“That’s great, I appreciate that Nando’s focus. But I don’t have the budget and I definitely don’t have the time to start creating a new language for a brand”.
I hear you, not all businesses are built in the same way as the one where those delectable Piri Piri chicken wraps come from. However, there are lessons to be learnt from a brand who fully understand their core employer base.
Preaching the Brand Bible
We all know that an engaged workforce can have a massively positive impact on sales and conversion. This is particularly important for those in retail, because the shop floor needs to be staffed with a team who are not only great at serving customers, but also embody the brand.
Or as we like to call it, have Internal Brand Love.
You could ask yourself if you have…
Created excitement within the teams about new products, business changes and updates about the brand they work for?
Made brand promises to them to show them that the team counts (and deliver on them)?
Gained feedback around your last product / season launch and if you really got the teams under the skin of your objectives?
It’s not about dictating to staff the where’s and what’s, but more in the appropriate tone seeding conversation and interaction.
When working on Internal Comms projects, there are some simple steps that we check off when aiming at our client’s objectives:
3 Easy Steps… towards Internal Brand Love
1. Language & Tone
I am not ashamed to admit that if I was to walk into a busy London Pub, my language and tone would be different than if I was speaking to my little girl’s head teacher. Sounds obvious but keep that in mind when creating your next internal engagement piece. Whether that’s a mailer, handbook, newsletter, intranet update event etc, you have to ask yourself, “Am I talking at my team or creating a conversation?”.
2. Measurement & Reaction
If you don’t know your staff well enough to talk to them on a level that will resonate, it’s most likely you need to conduct an employee survey.
To reiterate, without having that data to work with you are going to be at a loss. Data has to be your new best friend, as it will steer all your activity. It will also define what work you need to do in order to build a relationship with your teams.
With data in mind, we recently completed a project with FM Outsource.
FM Outsource have grown incredibly rapidly in the short time they have been trading, that in itself presents its own set of problems.
With a core employee base of 18-24 year olds the following stat:
On average an 18-24 year old has 5.5 jobs during a six-year period.
was incredibly important to address.
With new clients arriving all the time, FM Outsource needed to know two key things:
1) What they stood for as a brand
2) What their teams represented
By keeping those two points in mind, it would prove to be the first step in building Internal Brand Love with the FM Outsource staff, whilst also keeping the focus on employee retention as high as possible.
As a result, we assisted them in that engagement process and made sure that their data collection was as efficient as it could be.
Our focus was ensuring that the response to the data from the FM Outsource business internally was as sharp and on point to match.
There are plenty of stats around the ‘non-compulsory’ campaign that we can shout about.
Our personal goal, which I am very proud of, was that we had a 100% engagement rate with 300 staff.
A fundamental part of that was that we made sure the data collection segment of the campaign was as attractive as possible. The result of which is what gave FM Outsource the results they needed.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Nando’s.
Keep in mind the importance of the constant multi-channel approach needed to keep a conversation flowing with your teams.
If you haven’t got that multi-channel set up in place already, be aware that setting up a communication structure applicable to your internal business will involve a substantial amount of work.
On my previous point about data, the regularity of communications should be steered by your employee survey data.
That also includes which channels your teams should be contacted on to get the best results.
In summary, Internal Brand Love is clearly a labour and takes time to form, but as we’ve detailed above it’s a measured process.
Keeping that in mind, if you feel your internal communications could benefit from feeling the love…
Drop me a note and me and the team will come and see you.
I have to warn you, we have a tendency to bring biscuits.