We often talk about marketing and branding to our customers. That’s great and we can talk on and on about this subject. But just as importantly—dare I say more importantly?—is the message that we are telling our employees and ourselves about our company and culture. Maybe there’s a more official term for this type of work and please clue me in if so, but I call this internal branding. It’s a name that is exactly what it does.
I think of internal branding as communicating the goal that team members should work towards in each aspect of their jobs. This past year, we’ve spent a lot of time on this focus—it’s a necessity if you want to grow and scale your company. There’s many ways to work on your internal branding, but here are three simple things that we have put in place at King Bean and that you can do at your company.
Define your core values and go over them with your employees each week. This is by far, the most important thing we have every done regarding internal communication. Core values are the fundamental values of your organization.
When you define your core values (a list of 3-5 is most effective to remember), you set the tone for the company’s culture and ethos. This is the filter through which we operate; for every action, we think about core values. Every new hire needs to understand the core values as well.
A good example of core values in action is Chick-fil-A’s. I did a quick Google search and discovered the company’s core values:
Now, when you walk into a Chick-fil-A store, don’t you feel these values in the actions of the employees? In the way the customer experience is constructed? I certainly do. Simply the way they always say, “My pleasure,” whenever you thank a Chick-fil-A employee tells me that they value putting customers first. You can see how these can run deep through an organization.
Once you define your core values, you need to go over them weekly and make them visible. We all know how easy it is to forget things in this busy life. At King Bean, we incorporate our values into our weekly meeting. We open our meeting with the question, “Who has a good work story from this past week that pertains/ exemplifies our five values?”
It’s an open forum to build each other up and simultaneously reinforce our ethos.
Your elevator pitch: every employee needs to be able to answer effectively the question, “what does your company do?” There are a few tips to writing a good one — Louise Pritchard hits on many key points in this blog post: http://thesouthernc.com/get-elevator-pitch-ready/
Further, it’s important in writing your elevator pitch to narrow in on your customer’s pain point. All team members need to know the pain point of their customers. Our wholesale customers, for example, are all chefs and restaurateurs; their pain point is hectic schedules. So, at King Bean, instead of just answering the What do you do? question, with We roast coffee, our elevator pitch is this:
We create seamless coffee programs for busy restaurateurs and take care of the details so they don’t have to.
Because our employees know our elevator pitch and our customers’ pain points, our wholesale division has a stellar reputation for excellent customer service.
Elizabeth Mayhew said it best at last year’s Southern C Summit. In regards to what a brand promise actually is, she said, think of church. The promise there is a feeling of and community around God.
Think of your brand. What is your promise to people interacting with your brand?
Remember this: Your employees interact with your brand, not just your customers.
When you educate your staff on your brand promise, you put a frame around what people need to think of when they think of your business. Brand promises can be a little abstract and that’s fine. I think they are best if they are simple and all-encompassing. Ours at King Bean relates back to our roots: King Bean roasts on the simple promise of bringing great coffee to the South.
By teaching our team our brand promise, we all understand the ideal that we need to live every day.
You don’t have to be a big company to put this plan for internal branding in action. And it’s never too late to put this plan into action either. Do it now—you will reap the benefits almost immediately. All three lead to a clear, communicative message for the expectations around your company culture.