A surprising shift to internal branding at the Legal Marketing Conference

Recently, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel of three leading academics at the Legal Marketing Association’s Annual Conference in Toronto.   Entitled the “Changing Landscape of Marketing,” our discussion focused on the changing business landscape, new marketing strategies and global trends. My panelists, Dr. Alan Middleton, Schulich School of Business; Ken Wong, Queens University and Avi Goldfarb, Rotman School of Management, were witty and profound.  I enjoyed every second!

Like many industries, the legal industry is in transition.  While globalization tops the list, marketers at professional services firms are considering how they market and sell services.  The question we asked ourselves was: Is this a time when we should be sharpening our existing tools or embracing non-conventional thinking? For most, the answer was Yes (to both!) We debated analytics, measuring business impact, branding and the impact of social media on customer decision-making – just to name a few topics.

However, one of the most surprising opportunities raised by the panel was not about how to market the “external” brand per se, but about marketing the brand internally, to employees.  It was clear that this is unexplored – and high-potential territory.

As an expert in internal branding and organizational change, I have seen firsthand how important employee behaviour is to build authentic, trusted brands.  Even though we experience brands in many ways, I believe that  the most critical – and credible – touch points are employees.  I’ve worked with many organizations over the years to build internal communications programs, integrate social media, activate brands internally and engage leaders and managers through behavioural change programs.

From my experience, there is one thing I know: when the people in an organization understand their brand, they have the ability to create truly memorable experiences and relationships that ultimately drive loyalty and enhance business performance. This is true in both business-to-business (B2B) and in business-to-consumer (B2C) environments. Without a proper internal brand strategy in place, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

I invite you to think about your internal brand, how you are communicating your brand to your employees and engaging them as active participants in your business. Do they know what your brand stands for? Can they tell your story? Maybe it’s time to find out.

 

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