Creating a successful business transcends delivering products or services—it involves establishing a core internal brand that deeply connects with your target audience and even your employees. The heart of a brand lies within your organization and is vital for a brand’s success. Let’s dive deep into what makes up this essential aspect of your brand strategy and how to harness its potential to unlock explosive growth.
Understanding the Core Internal Brand
Your core internal brand is the compass that guides your team and aligns them toward a common goal. It’s also the foundation upon which your external brand is built; it’s the first step in creating a timeless brand. Your core internal brand constitutes your purpose, mission, vision, and values—essentially, it’s your company’s North Star.
Why is it so crucial? Because a well-defined core internal brand establishes trust with your customers and clarifies your goals for your team. It sets the stage for making independent decisions and helps your business navigate ups and downs with consistency and focus.
The Four Pillars of Core Internal Branding
Your core internal brand rests on four foundational pillars, each playing a pivotal role in shaping your organization’s identity and operations:
Purpose: Why You Exist
Your purpose serves as the driving force behind your company’s existence. It’s the fundamental ‘why’ that goes beyond financial gains. A well-defined purpose inspires your employees and attracts customers who resonate with your cause. For example, Southwest Airlines aims to “Connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”
A clear purpose:
- Guides decision-making by aligning actions with the organization’s ethos.
- Inspires both employees and customers, fostering a sense of connection and loyalty.
To define your purpose, ask yourself:
- Why was your company founded beyond making money?
- What problem does your company solve or alleviate?
- What are the fundamental needs your company addresses?
Once you have these answers, distill them into a sentence that concisely encapsulates your purpose.
Here are some examples of companies and their purpose statements:
- Advanced Micro Devices: Technology enabling a better world.
- Campbell’s Soup: Real food that matters for life’s moments.
- CarMax: To drive integrity by being honest & transparent in every interaction.
- Coca-Cola: Refresh the world. Make a difference.
Vision: Your Long-Term Goals
A vision statement outlines the long-term outcomes your company aspires to achieve. It’s a source of inspiration for your team and provides a glimpse into the impact you aim to make in the world. Disney’s vision is simple yet powerful: “To make people happy.”
A compelling vision will give your company the following:
- A sense of direction and guides future strategies.
- Inspires and motivates employees by highlighting the bigger picture.
To craft a powerful vision statement:
- Define what your company creates and the unique value it brings.
- What impact do you want to have on your customers’ lives?
- If you execute your plans flawlessly, what would the world look like?
Here are some great examples of company vision statements:
- Amazon (Remember, today is Prime Day):
To be the world’s most customer-centric company.
- CVS: We will help people live longer, healthier, happier lives.
- Netflix: Helping content creators around the world to find a global audience.
- Google: To organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Mission: Bridging Purpose and Vision
At the convergence of purpose and vision, your mission statement defines what your company does, who it serves, and how it fulfills its purpose and vision. It’s about bringing the ‘why’ and ‘what’ together in a concise and actionable manner.
A mission statement:
- It will help in strategic decision-making and goal-setting.
- It provides clarity on your organization’s role and contribution to the overall market.
To define your mission statement:
- What does your company do?
- Who do you do it for?
- What value are you bringing to them?
- How do you make it happen?
A basic formula for a mission goes something like this:
“My mission is to (what) + (who) + (why) + (how).”
Here are some inspirational mission statements by companies.
- Southwest Airlines – Dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.
- Leathermen: Create innovative products that prepare people for the expected and unexpected and result in real tales of triumph.
- Starbucks: To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.
Values: Guiding Principles
Your company values are the bedrock of your organizational culture. They embody the principles and behaviors that every employee should adhere to, from the CEO to the newest team member. These values create a framework for decision-making and interactions within your organization.
- Guide behavior and decision-making at all levels of the organization.
- Set the tone for your organizational culture and help attract like-minded talent.
To determine your company values:
- What values are most important to your company?
- How do you expect people to conduct themselves in bringing your vision to life?
- Can you use your values to judge your team’s performance?
Another exercise that might help you select values is selecting 2–3 keywords from four tables I’ve outlined that are available for free in the downloadable version of “Transform Your Marketing.” The tables are broken down into four categories: People-based, Interacting, Organization, and Customer/Impact.
Here are some company values from other companies for inspiration:
Involving Your Team in Crafting the Core Internal Brand
In defining your core internal brand, involving your team is essential. At the founding stage, brainstorming might be a solo endeavor. However, a small team brainstorming approach works best as your company grows. Gather critical individuals from various teams to ensure a diverse and comprehensive perspective.
Here are some key roles to be involved in the process:
- Founders/Owners: Share the initial vision and mission behind the company.
- Senior Leaders: Contribute their insights and experiences.
- Representatives from Various Teams: Ensure diverse perspectives are considered.
- Marketing Wordsmiths: Help refine the language and messaging for the brand.
From working with many companies on their brand strategy during my brand and marketing strategy consulting, 4-5 people is the maximum that should be involved to have a productive discussion.
Applying Your Core Internal Brand
These four elements are not static entities but should be dynamic, evolving as your company grows and matures. Embrace them in every aspect of your organization:
- Integration: Infuse these elements into your company culture, making them evident in your daily operations.
- Communication: Share your purpose, vision, mission, and values across the organization. Make them part of your hiring process, and reinforce them in team meetings and company-wide communications.
- Reflection: Regularly review and assess your core internal brand to ensure it aligns with your company’s growth, values, and goals.
Crafting a core internal brand is pivotal in defining your organization’s identity and shaping its journey. It’s the compass that guides your team, aligns their efforts, and resonates with your audience. Take the time to understand your purpose, envision your future, articulate your mission, and define your values. Your core internal brand is the essence of your organization—let it shine through and illuminate your path to success.
Unlock the potential of your business by starting from within. Define your purpose, vision, mission, and values, and watch your brand resonate authentically with your employees and customers.