Internal branding is just as important as your external brand. A strong, clear, internal brand can strengthen your company by encouraging employees to embrace your organisational values, and can positively impact how your people interact with your customers and stakeholders.
Your SharePoint intranet is a powerful tool for communicating your internal brand. With a focused internal branding strategy, it can support the employee experience from recruitment all the way to advocacy, and everything in between.
What’s the Difference Between Employer and Internal Branding?
Employer branding gives people outside your company a sense of what it might feel like to work there. It aims to pique job seekers’ interest, encourage them to apply to your company, and start establishing expectations of the job once they join. If you want to attract and retain top talent, effective employer branding is vital.
On the other hand, internal branding focuses on maintaining existing employees’ fulfilment of your brand promise by emphasising brand values, and how they apply to the work your teams are doing every day.
Although the objectives of employer branding and internal branding differ slightly in their emphasis and audience, they are complementary concepts which together contribute to the success of your organisation. Your employer branding will be conveyed mostly through your external website, and the way you market your job opportunities and graduate schemes, and your internal brand will permeate through all of your internal comms, with your intranet at its heart.
The Employee Lifecycle
One of the best ways to structure your employer and internal brand is through the employee lifecycle. There are 7 stages in the lifecycle, from attraction and recruitment (through external websites, job ads, interview and offer communications) to onboarding, development, and retention, (where your internal communications and intranet play a massive part) and – finally – the exit experience.
Across the entire employee experience, advocacy is hugely important, where potential, existing, and previous employees will talk about your business and your brand to both potential employees and customers.
Your SharePoint intranet can tell your internal brand story in many ways. As well as enhancing your employer brand through advocacy to your potential employee, by creating an inspiring digital experience for your employees you can enhance performance and build engagement across the employee lifecycle.
Bring Your Brand to Life
Branding alone won’t necessarily motivate a disengaged employee. But, in the context of an intranet that supports, inspires and informs your employees, it will help to give a subconscious reminder to your people about your organisational values.
Making your SharePoint intranet sing with the values and themes of your brand is essential. SharePoint itself offers hundreds of themes to help you get started, but can sometimes lack that something extra to create an intranet design that truly reflects the core of your brand.
Tools such as Silicon Reef’s own Beacon take it that step further allowing you to create engaging SharePoint sites that align perfectly with your brand – including fonts, colours, imagery and even gradients.
Ensuring that your intranet is accessible and inclusive – in line with your company brand values – is also essential. As well as visually conveying what you stand for your intranet experience should also feel like your brand, with an intuitive, user-led navigation, easy-to-use tools, and access to content for all, regardless of how, where, and when they are working.
Learn how to bring accessibility and inclusivity to your SharePoint intranet design
The employee onboarding experience is pivotal for the engagement of any team member, and vital for establishing the values of your brand. Providing new employees with all the information, background, and tools they need to hit the ground running is essential to give them confidence from day one, and helps them to build the relationships and skills they will need to be successful.
This is even more true now with the rise of hybrid working where a new employee may be starting on their first day working remotely, or alone. In this case, your intranet may have to do the job of several colleagues: making the new starter feel welcome, introducing them to their role, the company values and any guides or ways of working, as well as walking them through any housekeeping such as health and safety training, or standards of work.
Set up your SharePoint intranet with either a subsite designed specifically for new employees, or a customised experience for them, detailing the timeline of the company history and a breakdown of the brand values and culture. You can use Stream to embed video of – for example – the CEO telling the brand story, or the leadership of the business discussing the strategy, as well as sharing stories across your intranet that help bring your brand to life in the context of the work that you do.
For All Employees
Maintaining an area of your intranet dedicated to company mission and vision is valuable for all employees, regardless of their length of service.
Linking the employee experience back to the mission of the business is a key part of employee engagement, and your brand is a great mechanic to keep this fresh for your people every day. ‘Is this on brand?’ can be an easier question to pose than ‘is this strategically aligned?’ so aligning your brand to your strategic plans – and demonstrating this through the way you talk about your OKRs (objectives and key results) – can smooth employee discussions on performance and targets.
Sometimes the concept of a brand is hard to convey. Brand storytelling creates a cohesive narrative that weaves together the facts and emotions that your brand evokes. Storytelling can help your business to share the story behind your brand, why it exists in the first place, and why these matter to employees and customers alike.
Encourage employees to tell the brand story from their own perspective using communities (such as Viva Engage and Connections) to – for example – run competitions asking employees to share their own photos that best represent the brand.
Advocacy and Your External Employee Brand
Employee advocacy is when your brand is promoted by the people who work for you or have previously worked for you. It can mean sharing details about company culture, products, or employment experiences and is a form of digital PR that allows you to leverage online media to amplify brand. messaging.
Although you may feel that the way your employees advocate for your brand is out of your hands, it is far from it. Creating advocacy programmes – and managing these through your intranet – can help drive up your Glassdoor employee review score and build your brand presence on LinkedIn.
In its simplest form you can create an intranet library of topical brand-led stories that employees can share on LinkedIn – this will help them build their own personal brand as well as the business’s.
More complex advocacy programs could involve identifying natural brand ambassadors – by running surveys or analysing brand engagement through your intranet – and then training those brand ambassadors in writing for and engaging with social media platforms.
As well as involving them with brand advocacy campaign planning and creating a library of social media assets for your advocates to use, you might also create an incentive structure to encourage regular and relevant posting. Rewards such as gift cards, bonuses, company branded items, or discounted products can be powerful incentives but, equally, gamification can help to incentivise, with leader boards posted on your intranet and prizes for the highest place offered.
Learn how iconic brand Fortnum and Mason use storytelling to build their internal brand – as well as how they identify and use brand advocates to share their story – in this episode of the Work Happy podcast with guest Sam Bleazard, Fortnum’s Employer Brand Content Producer.
Start building your internal brand through your intranet today.