“Nice flag you’re putting up, but I’m never sure why people put them up.” “No. It’s not a flag. It’s a banner. Feather banner. And it’s called branding. That’s what I’m doing. Branding: getting people to know about us.”
As I walked away from the small tent in front of a bank where two shiny new cars were displayed, I reflected for a moment on the term branding… What is branding anyway? Do ranchers still brand their cattle to deter rustlers? Wrong context for the term branding because there are also banners inside the bank. Surely that must be internal branding! Wellll, not quite. So what, then, is internal branding. And why does it matter?
Reality is that much of branding literature has taken on an external perspective, focusing on strategies and tactics that firms should take to build or manage brand equity with customers. Without question, at the heart of all marketing activity is the positioning of a brand and the essence of its meaning with consumers. Equally important, however, is the positioning of the brand internally, that is, the manner by which the brand positioning is explained and communicated internally. In short, internal branding is a critical management priority and successful internal branding requires a mixture of resources and processes all designed to inform and inspire employees to maximise their contribution to brand equity (Keller, 2002).
Marketers are now learning what good parents everywhere have always known; charity begins at home. So too must branding. Ok. So “internal branding” must come first. Agreed. But images of a red-hot branding iron creating an identifying mark, and the acrid smell of burning cattle flesh linger. Hmmhhh. Internal branding? We need it: but can we call it something nicer?
Herman Alvaranga is a marketing and sales strategist.