is not the strongest of species that survive, nor the most
intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.
wisdom says branding is for external communications: it aims
to influence current and prospective customers. But this view
of branding is too narrow, especially when an organisation
is redefining its strategy. Branding can serve a powerful
internal purpose to redefine strategy and motivate people
to be focused on shared goals.
Forum for Management Development (EFMD)
While there is notable interest in how employee behaviour
can be aligned with the defined brand promise, business research
has crystallised one of the most influential drivers that
support internal brand building: it is the CEO.
Chief executive officers are, as all other members of staff,
either enabled or constrained by corporate structures.
However, CEOs have access to more corporate rules and resources
due to their social position. They can initiate and facilitate
change along the defined brand values. CEOs can do this in
two waysby formulating the brand vision and by facilitating
social interaction within the organisation.
The CEOs strongest influence during the process of internal
brand building is the development of a convincing and inspiring
The leadership literature shows the importance of long-term
perspective of the brand promise as it provides guidelines
for daily decisions. Employees may better identify with the
brand if they are aware of the brand vision. Organisational
transparency creates a greater sense of security for staff.
Let us examine energy giant bpTT. The letters bp stands for
beyond petroleum. This demonstrates that the organisation
maintains a distinct organisational vision, which is communicated
to all stakeholders through its brand.
BP Global maintains very strict standards of operations, procurement,
human resource development, and environmental standards.
It is through operating at these standards, and observing
the highest benchmarks that the organisation has built an
enormous amount of goodwill and trust amongst its employees.
As a result, the employees live the brand values and their
positive behaviours are clearly seen through the eyes of other
It must be emphasised that leaders play an active role during
the brand building process when it comes to translating the
brands promise into action.
However, the other role of leadership is to build bridges
between individuals and the organisation. Hence, leaders not
only influence the internal brand building process via formal
communication flows, but also through social actions.
The Virgin group of companies is a fine example. The CEO,
Mr Richard Branson, has become quite synonymous with his organisations
Mr Branson is responsible for hundreds of companies carrying
the Virgin brand whose product offerings range from airline
services to clothing.
However, Mr Branson is a fun-loving and adventurous individual.
He has been known to execute some daring stunts such as parachuting
off a tall building or fun events such as the Tobago Goat
His personality has extended into his organisations
culture, and his employees ensure that all clients enjoy both
a fun and pleasant experience.
Such unconventional actions have contributed to building Virgins
internal brand, and consequently, a very profitable and successful
For leaders to successfully execute the internal brand building
process, they must demonstrate three types of leadership attributes:
Living brand values
A committed leader is an integral part of the internal brand
During the initial phases of internal brand building, leaders
generally show support and commitment, but due to time pressures
they become less involved with implementation.
In fact, leaders need to be committed throughout the entire
brand building process. They must build on the qualities of
innovation, inspiration and imagination.
Such behaviours create excitement among employees and this
translates into positive reinforcement of the brand values.
An illustration of this point can be explained in terms of
a personal experience involving a major financial institution,
Republic Bank Ltd.
When I approached the bank for a particular kind of financing
facility, the lending officer went into the broad details
of the service, but explained that there were some obstacles
with respect to my requests.
However, rather than leaving the matter in limbo, the lending
officer went out of his way to render advice and assistance.
He even spoke to his regional manager, and was given several
scenarios and solutions that could apply to my situation.
After two days, several conversations (either by telephone
or personal meetings) and some innovative approaches, the
obstacles were all cleared up and I was granted the facility.
This action shows that organisational leaders have to be in
the middle of the process, working and guiding
Live the brand promise
Successful leaders are passionate representatives of the brand
promise. Living the brand may encourage the development of
trust and respect amongst employees.
Leaders of organisations that have built high brand equity
over time have emphasized the importance of role modeling.
They understand that they must lead by example and demonstrate
behaviors that exhibit the values and promises of the brand,
and to motivate their employees to emulate similar behavioral
Hence, living the brand promise serves as both a magnet and
motivator for employees.
Trust and empower
A successful leader views his people as talented individuals
who can make valuable contributions to the internal branding
The leader can facilitate participation through actions such
as recruiting individuals whose values are similar to the
brand, through training and a fair reward system.
This ensures that employees have the necessary skills to implement
the brand vision, that they understand the external brand
environment, and that they are able to judge if there is a
fit between the internal and external branding campaign.
Brand leaders trust that everybody in an organisation is determined
to live their brand values and knows how to turn
challenges into opportunities.
Empowerment is considered as the driving force for successful
brand building. Ultimately, this implies giving up control,
which in turn demonstrates the leaders faith in his
Organisational leaders eventually lead their employees to
the brand-based organisation, which takes the customer driven
organisation a step further. It demands viewing customers
in terms of how they think about brands.
When a customer thinks about making a purchase in a category
(whether it is a financial service or toothpaste), a few brands
usually come to mind.
In the future, the success of companies will be largely determined
by their ability to get customers to think about their brand
Organisations will have no choice but to develop the most
appropriate branding strategies especially to compete in the
challenging environment of the Caricom Single Market Economy
due to come on stream this year.
Successful business leaders, however, must view an appropriate
internal culture as one of the pillars of building a successful
CEOs especially, must play a pivotal role in building the
internal brand values of their organisations.
It is their brands, rather than their products or services
that drive sales and this should motivate leaders to organize
their businesses around those brands.
Mr Jai Leladharsingh is a senior associate with the UWI-Institute
He can be contacted at: [email protected]