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The Importance of Brand Internalisation

Sadly, for many organisations, marketing is not evident from the inside out; the brand strategy is not internalised and employees are not adequately empowered or educated as to how important a role they actually play in the business. This is where the importance of brand internalisation comes in. The fact is that your employees are your brand – everything that they do (or don’t do) reflects on the brand. Hence it is critical that all internal stakeholders are fully immersed and engaged in the marketing of the brand; that they understand and live the brand as proud advocates.

As a case and point, South African Airways (SAA) are a proudly South African brand, an official Olympic sponsor and the national carrier of our team – but it would seem this has not been shared with the staff a large, and it would appear that they have not been encouraged to ‘help build the SAA brand’.

Flight 9223 from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg on Monday 15th August was jam packed with people returning from the Rio Olympics, including two of our heroic Silver medalists. One was dressed in casual clothes and looked like an ordinary South African traveller but the other was in his South African Olympic tracksuit, with his (large) Olympic medal on his chest. However, an Airbus is big plane with over 300 passengers, so most were oblivious to the company that they were in for the haul home, and sadly, our heroes were neither ‘exposed’ nor ‘leveraged’. Sadly for them, because they deserved to have been recognized. Sadly for the other passengers who would have loved to have applauded them and been a small part of their glorious story.Sadly for SAA, because they missed a perfect opportunity to build brand advocacy.

An upgrade for these athletes would have been nice, but given that the plane was full, this was probably impossible. However, a short announcement, a little bit of fuss and a little bottle of champagne would have cost nothing – and could have won the minds, hearts and actions of every passenger. Unfortunately, nothing was said or done. For the staff it was just another ordinary day, and for the family and friends of our two heroes on the flight, well they came home with little good to say about the airline – the flight had been delayed by 7 hours and then they had missed a simple opportunity to shine.

The point is, for staff to help build the brand, the organisation must first create a consumer-centric culture to promote this; and cultures don’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort to inform, inspire and involve your staff – but when they are truly engaged and empowered then they are in a great position to help win the minds, hearts and actions of your customers.

Clive Evans, The Strategy Department

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