When you think about branding for your print shop, it’s natural to think primarily about external branding. Branding is traditionally defined by how customers and prospects perceive your company.
But it’s also important to consider how your employees view your company. According to a recent survey conducted for Weber Shandwick, only 21 percent of employees in the U.S. perceive a strong match between how their employer represents itself and what it’s actually like to work there. Closing the “brand credibility gap” between external and internal branding can improve your shop’s ability to attract new customers and qualified, motivated employees.
What Is Internal Branding?
The goals of internal branding and external branding are slightly different. Whereas external branding is about making the desired emotional or psychological connections with buyers, internal branding is about building a workplace culture that helps foster these better connections with buyers.
For example, if your branding emphasizes accuracy and attention to details, your internal culture should encourage and reward employees who are accurate and detail-oriented.
If recruitment literature claims that your shop treats people fairly and offers opportunities for growth, job candidates should be able to confirm those claims by talking to any of your current employees.
Why Does it Matter?
Consistent Customer Experience. All employees in your organization should work together to deliver a consistent experience from marketing, estimating, and prepress to production, delivery, and invoicing. In the B2B world of printing, your employees can be your most powerful channel of communications with customers.
“In complex B2B sales environments, prospects and customers are just as likely to interact with an employee as with a carefully crafted marketing message,” notes Maria Trysla of CMG Partners in a post on LinkedIn. “Internal branding ensures that the employee is in lockstep with the brand promise.”
Faster Implementation of Changes. Employees who truly understand your brand values will be less likely to resist changes in production methods, leadership, business models and policies.
Employee Retention and Advocacy. When employees share a deep understanding of the vision and purpose of your business, they can serve as brand advocates and enhance your company’s reputation as an employer. They can also help you identify potential candidates who might be a good fit for your culture.
Tips for Getting Started
Define a clear company vision and purpose. Communicate this vision and purpose through tangible actions — not just marketing messages. For example, if your vision to be the best in customer service, what steps are you taking to make that a reality? Does customer feedback back up your promotional claims?
Get employee input. Determine how much your employees currently understand about your business, including its goals, principles, and core values. Ask long-time employees why they joined your company and if they would recommend it to a friend.
Ask employees to identify any gaps between your external messages and the reality of working there. Let all employees know they play an important role in making your brand promise a reality.
Recognize employees whose actions reflect internal brand standards. People react positively to gestures that express appreciation for desired behaviors. Recognition can encourage all employees to act in ways that support your brand.
Communicate your values to new hires during the onboarding process. New hires are anxious to fit into your workplace culture and create favorable impressions. They need to understand your vision and what types of actions get rewarded.
Provide adequate training and resources. If your brand-marketing materials promote your company as a solutions-provider, give employees the training, support, and authority they need to help solve design, production, marketing, or logistics problems for customers.
How Automated Systems Help
When you adopt systematic, efficient methods of managing daily production, you and your staff will have more time to work on actions that strengthen both your external and internal branding.
This matters because branding is a process that never ends.
Your branding must be refined as markets and your printing services evolve, your best customers change jobs or retire, and your company and its competitors grow, diversify, or merge.
Ordant’s estimating, order management, and customer-relationship software can help improve the efficiency and accuracy of everyday print-shop business tasks. Use Ordant to improve internal collaboration, minimize errors or redundant efforts, and reduce the risk of miscommunications among employees and with customers. For a demonstration of our easy-to-use, easy-to-customize print-shop management software, visit www.ordant.com