You must be familiar with the marketing jargon “brand equity” that appears in marketing-related discussions. If you are wondering what it is, here is the answer.
In simple words, brand equity represents the value or worth of a brand. It comprises three basic components: brand perception, positive or negative effects, and resulting value.
Brand perception is what customers believe a product or service represents. A product has positive brand equity if customers think highly of it.
When a product generates negative word-of-mouth and disappoints customers, it has negative brand equity. Brand value is the financial worth of a brand.
Brand equity and internal branding strategy
David Aaker, in 1990, provided the first definition of brand equity as a concept that extends to both tangible and intangible elements. There were other later definitions by Keller, Kim and Kim, and Donthu, etc.
Let us discuss some famous brand equity examples:
- Apple is the most obvious example of a company that enjoys huge brand equity. We all have witnessed loyal Apple fans queuing up overnight to lap up their new launches. Apple is ranked No. 1 in the Forbes World’s Most Valuable Brands list for 2020.
- Tylenol ranks above average in the pain relief category. The brand enjoys more loyalty and trust than any other competitive brand. It has also expanded favorably by creating SKUs.
- Amazon is one of the most valuable brands in the world. With its innovative use of digital technology, artificial intelligence, and data analytics, Amazon stays at the forefront. Amazon has topped the list of BrandZ’s Top 75 most valuable retail brands list of 2020.
- IBM, in 1997, launched its E-business campaign to prepare its employees to accept the idea of the internet as the future of technology. Though people assumed it was an external marketing campaign, it was actually directed towards its employees.
Other examples of brand equity and brand recall include Google, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Facebook, Louis Vuitton, McDonald’s, and Nike.
The role of internal brand marketing
When you think of marketing, you associate it with marketing to customers. The other market that is as important as the “external” market is a company’s “internal” market — its employees. Employees and stakeholders have to understand and embrace the brand in total.
Internal branding is how a company communicates its brand story to its own people. Selling the product inside a company is the first step towards successful branding campaigns. Internal marketing strengthens the product.
Now let us understand the importance of internal branding:
- Internal branding helps employees connect to the company’s products and services. If employees are emotionally disconnected from the product, they may not believe in the brand. If they are not motivated by the product they won’t be able to sell it to an external customer. The idea is to get the internal and external stakeholders on the same page.
- Internal employer branding helps link internal and external communications. You can’t have the management conveying one message and the employees communicating something else to the customer. Matching internal and external messages help in delivering customer expectations and achieving goals.
- Engage your employees in internal branding activities. Use focus groups, employee surveys, etc., to make employees answer questions about their perceptions of the company and its brands. Engaged employees can become internal brand ambassadors and communicate the marketing campaign to external agencies.
- Recognize and reward employees who contribute great ideas, so they don’t lose interest after the initial launch.
Let us look at some interesting internal branding examples:
- Starbucks has been in business since 1971. It has successfully crafted an internal marketing strategy. The company nurtures its employees so they can spread its brand values externally. In 2018, Starbucks changed its logo by dropping the word “Coffee.”
- Nike focused on marketing and storytelling by highlighting its “Just Do It” campaign. Many senior executives held additional positions of “Corporate Storyteller.”
Here are some internal branding guidelines or strategies:
- Define values and mission: Employees have to be aware and understand the company’s values and mission and believe in them. Give them a reason to work in your company.
- Involve the employees: Include the opinions of your employees in the internal branding exercise. Ask for feedback, new ideas, thoughts, etc. Give them a feeling of owning the product.
- Identify pain points: Create a 360-degree feedback mechanism inside the organization and determine what employees like and dislike about the company. Then, try finding solutions for those pain points that can be fixed in the short term and then move to the others that require long-term efforts.
- Communicate internal branding effectively: After the vision and mission are clear, devise a proper communications strategy to convince your employees about the credibility of your brand. Create an emotional connection between the brand and employees. Employees who believe in the brand will be motivated to perform better and stay loyal to the company.
The ultimate goal of both internal and external branding is the same – to create brand equity. Although brand equity is considered intangible for customers, its benefits are tangible.
Internal benefits are in the form of employee retention, involvement, and productivity. External benefits are when consumers attribute more value to products of companies that create high brand equity.
Your company’s internal branding is as important as its external branding, and both have to work in tandem to create a successful brand.