6 Ways for Mid-Marketers to Build an Effective Internal Brand

One of the most under-appreciated factors in the success of a middle-market business—or any company, for that matter—is for the enterprise to have a cohesive internal identity and culture that is authentic and resonates with employees, helping to retain them and keep them happy.

Call it an “employer brand,” “internal brand” or “employee value proposition,” or even something else. The point is that “clear employer brands … are closely tied to better performance and significant revenue and employment growth in middle-market firms,” according to the Middle Market Institute. And the specific size of the firm has little correlation “to where they are in developing their employer brand,” MMI’s latest research study showed.

Among the 25% of middle-market companies with a clear and effective employer brand, 71% found improved company performance compared with just 55% of firms with employer brands that “need more work,” and just 45% of firms with less-developed employer brands.

“Of mid-market firms with a clear and effective employer brand, 71% found that it improved company performance.”

While building an effective “employee value proposition” or internal brand takes time and a commitment from senior management, the Institute suggested 6 ways to make the process successful:

  1. First, recognize that all firms have employer brands, whether they know it or not. Employees have opinions about what it’s like to work for a company, comprising a de facto employer “brand.” So understanding a firm’s current reputation is where mid-market CEOs should begin the process of shaping that brand into something deliberate. Good sources of information on that reputation include talks with employees, surveying them anonymously, scanning the internet for mentions of the company, social-media “listening” and interviews with employees who are leaving the company or candidates who have turned down a job offer.
  1. Brainstorm ways to strengthen and differentiate your brand. Engage the senior leadership team in an in-depth discussion, MMI suggested, “and encourage them to think creatively” about what the company can offer that will resonate with top candidates and set the organization apart. Factors to consider include what the company can do as a mid-sized firm that smaller and larger organizations can’t, what possibilities would tie directly to the company’s business (such as health club discounts, product discounts, free lunches, free getaways to company properties), and how fast the company is growing—which can be an attractant in its own right.
  1. Create an authentic and genuine brand. The core elements of the employer brand should remain consistent and true to the company’s DNA even while the brand evolves over time.
  1. Involve marketing people in the process. Branding is their expertise, and they can help differentiate a company’s employer brand and articulate it in a meaningful way, as well as ensure that the employer brand remains consistent with the external corporate brand.
  1. Clearly articulate the brand. A mission statement, documented company values and other such tools can help explain and fortify the employer brand to employees and job candidates.
  1. Use the employer brand in recruiting efforts. An authentic and vibrant employer brand can become a handy tool for landing the best new employees. This especially includes the digital space, where a company’s website and social media presence should closely echo the message of the internal brand and build excitement about it.


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