Feature Article - September/October 2017

Unifying External and Internal Brands

Marketing, HR Experts Explain the Benefits to Your Bottom Line

By Rick Dandes

End Results: What's In It for You?

Happy, engaged and loyal employees are more productive, more customer-focused, and stay with their companies longer.

"They are also going to be advocates for the company," Ryan said. "And when you look at where your internal brand is most vulnerable, it is in some of the new social networking sites that have emerged, like glassdoor.com. So, it is very important that you think of your recognition program as one that is going to help employees feel good about their connection to the company, which ultimately will translate into them saying positive things outside of the organization."

As an organization, you really have no control over what an employee says after work hours, so the only way you can possibly influence them is to make sure they are satisfied and happy with their work arrangement. Recognition, Ryan said, "is a great way of making sure that everything stays aligned."

Only the harmonization of corporate, product and employer branding ensures that everyone involved contributes to a unified brand experience, together raising the brand's value, said Michelle Smith, vice president, marketing, O.C. Tanner, Salt Lake City. "Behind this success lies strong employer branding—and companies having strong employer brands tend to outperform those that don't."

Not every company must be a leader in all three brand-management disciplines, Smith continued, "but they must achieve a basic command of each, as they discover how to differentiate themselves in the areas important to their business. Only then will they achieve more integrated and consistent brand experiences. The era of unified branding is dawning, and employer, corporate and product branding will only grow more closely integrated.

"Unified branding works when executives in charge of HR and the brand disciplines make it their common goal, and have the courage and flexibility to work together," she said.

Companies willing to cross organizational boundaries and experiment with this approach will discover the proven benefits of a unified brand. Those that don't move in this direction risk falling behind their more integrated and nimble competitors, Smith said.