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Internal branding, the new buzz word

Though internal branding is not new for organisations, its role has never been as critical, reports Rupashree Singh.

india Updated: Feb 07, 2006 13:35 IST
Rupashree Singh
Rupashree Singh

What is it that keeps your employees ticking and makes them take pride in their jobs? The mantra is internal branding.

Though internal branding is not a new concept for most growing organisations, its role has never been as critical as it is today.

"Most companies have started understanding that an employee's positive experiences within the company work better than a published advertisement. This is intrinsically linked with the external brand image — how internal customers see you directly affects how investors and customers perceive your organisation," says Ankush Mendiratta, GM (HR), India and SAARC Countries, UTStarcom, Inc.

Reiterates HCL Technologies' Corporate VP (HR), DK Srivastava, "Employees can be our best ambassadors only if we can make them believe in the organisation's visions and plans."

As the corporate world is becoming more conducive to people-friendly policies, the focus is now on employee satisfaction, involvement and commitment.

Explains CV Prakash, Head, Human Capital and Corporate Communications, Team Computers Pvt Ltd, "Internal branding is practiced at all levels in our organisation. Through our in-house newsletter for employees, we disseminate information about our new initiatives, policies and success stories within the organisation. Further, to help our employees beat the monotony and routine, we adopt new and different business strategies. Finally, we ensure that our motivational training programmes are more comprehensible to our staff. This has resulted in positive outcomes."

In addition to mediums like internal newsletters, the intranet and motivating workshops, as Amber Paintal, Head, Advertising and Public Relations, Jindal Photo Ltd avers, internal branding also involves communicating messages at different types of platforms such as rewards and recognition events etc.

On similar parameters, Tele-Tech Services (India) Pvt Ltd has a global approach to employee engagement called 'Voice' — the employee opinion survey, where employee and customer satisfaction value chain linkages are clearly a part of the strategy. Clear action plans based on the analysis of the employee opinion survey are developed and tracked involving HR and Line Leaders.

But what has to be taken into account is that internal branding will not bear fruit unless aligned with external branding. States QAI's Marketing and Communications Manager, Jaya Duggal, "How can these two be different? In fact, whatever we project internally will reach our customers one way or the other and any inconsistency in marketing communications and internal branding will lead to brand confusion."

Seconds Sanjay Kapoor, President and CEO, TeleTech India, "An alignment of external and internal branding is imperative. An organisation must have a coherent, compelling message to spread. Unless employees act consistently with the brands they represent, any other branding activity can suffer."

One is, however, curious to know how to measure its reach and success. Answers Upasana Raina, Lead, Human Resource, Eixir Web Solutions, "To evaluate its effectiveness, we keep an ongoing track of the way the external audience and our employees perceive the brand. When employees understand the brand, their positive attitudes inevitably come through in their dealings with external stakeholders. And when this, in turn, persuades clients to work with you rather than your competitors, that's when you know you're building a sustainable value chain."

More tangible results include low attrition and high profit rates as seen in companies like Team Computers which posted a 70 per cent CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) year after year. Under the 'Mission Zero Call', its service team managed to achieve a zero call status as well.

Similarly, a recent poll at HCL reflected that 77 per cent employees would recommend HCL to their friends in the industry. And at Havell's India, the turnover increased by 58 per cent last year and profits were up by 46 per cent.

As most experts opine, it is not so difficult to engage employees if the organisation is transparent and strategies are in place.

Says Havell's Director, Anil Gupta, "Incentives and perks offered to employees are in the form of empowering them, encouraging ideas and suggestions and implementing those ideas. The transparency in the organisation helps, as people have no reason to doubt the management's intention."

However, as Srivastava warns, this might become difficult in large organisations due to the heterogeneous environment and thus "communication with uniform messaging" is the underpinning factor in the branding strategy.

"The fact that today internal communication is fast becoming an important area for the marketing organisation further substantiates the growing importance of internal branding!" he concludes.

First Published: Feb 07, 2006 13:35 IST