Internal Branding & EVP: How to Build Employer Brand from the Inside
Your employer brand isn’t a one-way street, it’s a multi-lane highway. How your employees view your company and their workplace strongly impacts how they do their jobs and your brand. Do you know how your employees feel? We’ll help you find out by discussing internal branding, why you need an employee value proposition, and highlight the connection between engagement, feedback, and a successful internal employer brand.
Definition: Internal Branding
Internal Branding is a strategy to align your whole team with company plans, values, and mission. This involves communication, education, feedback, and active care for your brand and values, not just externally, but internally.
Internal Branding: Why’s It Important?
A brand is a cohesive thing with many interrelated elements. One of these that is too often forgotten is the internal front. Or rather, how employees understand your brand and how they feel about it.
Before you set out on any journey toward new company missions, plans, culture, or simply a better workplace, you need to make sure your team is on board. Otherwise, you’ll be sailing alone. This is what internal branding does and what makes it so important.
Internal branding is taken from the realm of marketing and means selling your employees on your plans, as much as you need to convince external customers. After all, it’s the employees who will interact with clients, carry out your mission, and even be affected by public company brand narratives that could reflect back on them. To make your team truly effective, you need to live your employer brand inside and out.
The benefits of internal branding include:
- Increased emotional connection between employees and your company and goals
- A strong and loyal team that’s on the same page
- Better alignment between what employees do and what your external employer brand promises
- Significantly higher employee engagement
- Improved retention and recruitment even when encountering the unknowns of change
>> Recommended: Change Management: Definition and Tips for Success <<
When Should You Start Internal Branding?
It’s always a good idea to have internal branding measures in place. They are, after all, essential to how your team views and connects to your company and how much effort they give. Not to mention how well they convey your employer brand to customers.
However, if you don’t already have internal branding underway, here are some fortuitous times to start:
- With mergers or large changes in company structure
- At the beginning of a new employer branding effort
- During changes in leadership
According to the Harvard Business Review, starting at key watershed moments like these massively impact the success of internal branding. Of course, if you don’t have a revolutionary event at hand, you can always start your own. Many companies begin a smaller new branding campaign and pair it with their internal branding ambitions.
Employee Value Proposition
No internal branding is complete, or even ready to start, without an employee value proposition (EVP). So, what exactly is an EVP?
Borrowed from a marketing term, customer value proposition, an employee value proposition is a statement of what benefits and unique advantages your company and workplace offer current or potential employees.
In short, what do they get from working for your company and why should they want to?
These benefits can be financial, experiential, or personal but together they should provide a strong case for why your workplace is the right one for an employee or candidate. At its core, an EVP answers the “why.” Why, with all the choices available, should new or old employees work for you?
EVP: Internal Branding vs. External Branding
Like employer branding, an EVP is an extension of your company culture, values, and mission. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking of them as simply the same. The external market is the target of your employer branding or external branding strategies where you convince customers of what you stand for and what your brand promises, typically with a soothing narrative. It’s your public face.
Internally, however, you need clear markers, solid promises, and clear data to make a compelling case to current and future employees. It’s great if your company sets out to save the rain forest, but what does that mean for employees working for you?
Instead, you have to present to employees the exact work benefits and structures that make your company employee-friendly, and in the rain forest case, also environmentally friendly. This could be anything from free bicycle sharing to a carbon neutral and communal office. In this way, you bring your external brand and mission together with your EVP to make an enticing workplace that fits your culture.
How To Create Your EVP
Creating this proposal may sound daunting, but, luckily, your EVP can be pulled together from many sources you already have at hand.
Employer Value Proposition Examples
To really get under the hood of a concept and make it applicable, it’s best to see real examples from real places. For EVP, it’s useful to see not only what others have done but how they successfully implemented it. Here are some companies that put time and effort into their EVP and came out with a good result.
PwC: Truly aligned company mission and EVP
“From developing leaders at every level, to digital training to help you embrace the innovative technology of tomorrow, PwC provides you with support to help you develop your career and build relationships with people from diverse backgrounds and across multiple industries.”
HubSpot: Clear communication and voice
“We’re dedicated to building an inclusive culture where employees can do their best work. Feedback, research, and our own employees show that the number one way to do that is by being flexible. Giving HubSpotters the freedom and flexibility to create their own work-life balance builds trust in our company, but it’s also just the right thing to do.”
How they implement EVP:
Both of these companies do a few special things to make sure their EVP succeeds and helps them retain and attract the best talent:
Their EVP successfully translates company mission into tangible benefits.
PwC breaks their benefits into 4 categories including “travel the world,” “make a difference,” “develop as a leader,” and “realize your full potential” which perfectly ties to their core values of integrity, making a difference, caring, working together, and reimagining the possible.
- HubSpot expands on its goal of building compassionate businesses by showing understanding for their employees’ needs throughout their EVP and benefits.
They clearly communicate their employee value proposition.
Both HubSpot and PwC have a defined section on their website and public presence telling potential employees exactly what they can expect.
- HubSpot even breaks theirs down into 9 specific benefits that employees can identify with.
They understand their target audience.
HubSpot clearly focuses on employees as their target audience in their EVP statement above. They do this by highlighting things employees desire or need such as feedback, flexibility, and freedom, and show how employees can find them at HubSpot. This continues through their career page, where almost any employee and their unique needs can find a benefit that speaks to them.
- PwC also caters to an employee audience by highlighting aspirations such as travel, personal growth, and more social concerns like diversity and inclusion. They make this more convincing by communicating in clear sections and direct actions that the company makes for a better workplace.
Engagement & Feedback: Core Pillars of Internal Branding
If external branding is to put the perspective of the customer first, then internal branding is all about the internal client: the employee. What do they think and need, and how do they view your company? This focus on the employee experience requires new insights from your employees themselves. Here is where elements from engagement and feedback are essential.
Why you need feedback:
Feedback is much more than a yearly review and with the help of digital tools can be done regularly and from 360 degrees. Getting honest feedback from your current employees gives you data on what they like about the workplace and what bothers them. This is invaluable information for building your EVP and internal branding campaign. If done right, it gives you the tools to harmonize your internal and external brand and bring your whole team to bat for the success of your company.
With feedback you can:
- Customize your campaign to your target audience, that is, your current and future employees.
- Get insights into how your team understands the employer brand and assess the need for more internal branding or changes in your campaign.
- Locate the problems of employees and shape your EVP to address them.
- Target the aspects of the workplace that are out of sync to ensure your workplace matches your company mission both internally and externally.
- Encourage acceptance of your internal and external brand by giving employees the chance to be active in shaping their workplace.
>> Recommended: How Bottom-Up Feedback (& Leadership) Drive a Better Workplace <<
Internal branding and employee engagement:
What employee engagement strategies bring to the table is action and reaction. What we’ve learned from engagement is that employees work best when they are appreciated and connected to their workplace. This means leaders need to respond to the concerns and opinions of employees to truly bring them and their full potential into the company.Listening is no good without reacting and a great employer brand is pointless if no one connects to it. Internal branding gives you the chance to truly connect your employees to the values that your company stands for. It lets you communicate why you do what you do and why that matters to your team. And it also lets you respond to employee needs. Paired with informed actions from leadership, feedback, EVP, and internal branding give employees the connection and voice they need to excel and truly embody your employer brand.
Is There Too Much Internal Branding?
There can always be too much of a good thing. Just ask Sears.
In an attempt to increase employee engagement and productivity in the 90s, Sears launched an internal branding campaign. The initial years were great with positive numbers across the board. But after 7 years of seemingly endless internal brand building workshops, brochures, videos, you name it, the magic had worn off. Employees and managers alike went from positively connected to toxically overwhelmed, and the brand suffered along with it.
The moral of the story is easy. Like any marketing campaign, you need to know your limits and always keep fresh tactics with internal branding.
Again, feedback is essential here. Feedback lets you feel the pulse of your company and adjust your tactics accordingly. Instead of indiscriminately force-feeding your brand to anyone unfortunate enough to wander in.
How To Successfully Implement Your Internal Branding
Understand your company values and mission.
These are the basis for your EVP and internal branding efforts. Make sure you know them like the back of your hand and that they are well communicated and lived in your workplace.
Haven’t developed company values yet? No worries! Get some pointers here:
Implement and collect regular feedback, ideally on a weekly basis.
This is the source of your data to truly target your internal branding. Make sure your employees have a chance to honestly give their opinions so that you can understand what makes your workplace great from the employee perspective. After all, they are your target audience.
Make measurable goals and targets.
Any campaign needs to know what its aims are. Whether its better retention, recruiting, engagement, or all of them combined, you need to make measurable milestones to spot your success or find where your campaign needs to be improved.
Ensure that external and internal branding are aligned.
Both internal and external work together. If your external brand promises one thing but your employees learned another, then there’s bound to be conflict. Internal branding should make your brand’s mission tangible and relevant for your team.
Make and apply an EVP.
Your employee value proposition tells employees why they would want to work for you and what benefits they can expect. It’s the key that translates your employer brand into a language that is relevant to employees.
Communicate clearly, consistently and with the employee in mind.
Any marketer can tell you that humans respond better to good stories. Make sure the way you communicate is not only clear and accessible to everyone (which means you need more than just posters and email) but is also told in an engaging manner.
Bring your team into the fold.
Employees respond and connect better when they are integrated into the process, not just given a hand-out. Use your feedback platform or one-on-ones to truly connect your team to the brand and give them the tools to shape it at the same time.
Use feedback to measure, assess, and adapt your internal branding.
Internal branding is a continuous effort that will always need to be adapted to the state of the workplace. Use feedback and data to change your internal branding strategies to what your employees need, while measuring how successfully it’s reaching and resonating with them.