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Companies that get internal branding right

Zimkhitha Mqutheni
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Companies that get internal branding right

Last week, I wrote about the value of internal marketing to your organisation and employees. This week, I’m going to share two case studies with you of companies which get internal marketing right.

When we talk about employee branding, many employers shrug at the idea as their first concern is building their external brand to attract more clients and investors. They want to be viewed in a certain way to the outside world, which requires spending time and money to build their company’s image. They forget that the ‘right image’ which is built solely on external factors can easily be damaged if their internal branding is not order.

Employees should always take the lead with building the company’s internal brand

This is because they serve your customers and as such are the first contact points your customers will have with your company brand.

There are companies that value their people and as well as their ideas. Take Southwest Airlines, which uses the power of relationships to achieve high performance standards:

  • This company understands that to build a strong brand, you first need your staff members’ buy-in. And you get to do that through positioning your brand as the best - not in words but in action - by the kind of culture the organisation espouses.

  • Southwest’s philosophy is to build relationships with employees and its clients. Front leaders get to know their clients by name and ensure that they show their appreciation. This starts from leadership knowing their employees and taking the time to understand them on a personal level.

According to Jody Hoffer Gittel, author of The Southwest Airlines Way: “Southwest employees are encouraged to form good friendships with the people they work with, blurring the boundaries between work and life. That way, Southwest employees identify strongly with the company and think of it as an extension of their own families.” That’s internal marketing at its best and it is not done by the marketing team but by the whole organisation. It does not cost them anything; all it takes is management encouraging relationships which translate to employee retention, loyalty, job satisfaction and they feel a strong bond with their employer and their fellow colleagues.

How can you get your employees to be proud of your brand?

To achieve this, HR and your corporate communications team will need to collaborate. Internal communications strategies alone - without HR's engagement strategies ¬ will be unsuccessful.

Comparison between First National Bank and Southwest Airlines

As part of First National Bank’s (FNB’s) innovative culture, the bank holds an internal competition, called 'Innovators', that formally encourages and supports the process of innovation and related competencies.

Business units within FNB are empowered to innovate through leadership buy-in and advocacy. These processes do not only encourage innovative thinking but also gives the employees the idea that they are important and are part of the decision process.

While Southwest dedicates their time to becoming a family committed to their employees, FNB’s priorities are their:

  • Customers,
  • Communities they serve,
  • Unique corporate culture,
  • Commitment to giving back, and
  • putting employees first.

Southwest Airlines offers their employees the freedom to pursue good health, create financial security, travel, make a positive difference, learn and grow, create and innovate, work hard and have fun and stay connected.

In return, their employees respond with passion, commitment, and a rich diversity of perspectives that translate into better customer service and a dedication to doing the right thing.

Building the brand involves the whole team (from leadership to front-line supervisors), employee involvement, engagement and good internal communication plans. So if Southwest Airlines and FNB can do it, so can your organisation. It's a win-win situation for employees, employer and customers.


Zimkhitha Mqutheni is the founder and managing director of Ukhanyiso Communications. She is a freelance writer and communications specialist. Her interest in communication is in steering the brands to deal with their core before dealing externally.



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