Every good communications campaign focuses on three primary audiences: customers, potential customers and employees.

Unfortunately, most marketing campaigns can’t be defined as “good” by this definition. Too many focus only on potential customers. Many others focus on both potential customers and on current customers. That is well and good, because it is customer retention and customer acquisition that keeps a business growing and thriving. However, most ignore arguably the most important audience — their employees. These are the people charged with representing your brand to those customers and potential customers.

Companies in the hospitality and service businesses tend to understand this better than those in more product centered businesses. We have been fortunate to work on internal branding for many years for a major hospitality company, communicating with direct employees and employees of franchisees at properties around the world. This company aggressively communicates and educates to ensure every employee understands what their brand stands for, what customers expect from the brand and how to deliver on those expectations. Every brand has a language, an attitude, a personality and an expectation. Whether you engage with employees online, on social media, on the phone or face to face, the brand must be pure.

Consider the work we’re doing for a pest control company. How customers feel about the service technician at their location, online and on the phone means as much to the brand success as the pest-free environment they create. Those employees are the brand.

In an increasingly competitive job market, talent attraction and talent retention is a category in itself for marketing. We have, for the last few years, worked with a major brick and mortar, online and catalog retailer to help them market for seasonal employees in their distribution center. Some might say, “What difference does it make? All they need are people to pack and ship.” We disagree. Every touchpoint in the marketplace reflects on the brand, regardless if they’re targeting consumers or employees. Every employee who joins the organization, whether seasonal or long term, needs to understand what the brand stands for and what customers expect from the brand so they can accurately reflect those values. The employment brand should closely match the consumer brand.

Even in a business where the majority of employees are far from the end customer — a manufacturing business or an agricultural business, for example, internal branding should not be ignored. Becoming a part of the brand, understanding the greater mission, participating in the community and knowing the goals of the organization lead to pride in work, pride in company and employee retention.

Here are some things you can do to begin the internal branding process:

  • Share marketing with them, and discuss “why this message, and why now”
  • Communicate goals and celebrate victories – individual, location and corporate
  • Establish expectations
  • Create a brand voice and use it consistently

No matter what your business is, making employee engagement part of marketing will make you a better company.