Why you should never underestimate a strong internal culture.
Last week we spoke about internal culture and the power it has for including staff, making them feel wanted, useful, and giving them a purpose beyond tapping away at keys on a keyboard.
Internal culture is a strong part of any organisation, however, in many cases it can be made even stronger. It can be built upon to form something bigger and better, the birth of something brilliant. This is where internal branding comes in, creating a uniform body within the workforce of any company.
What Is The Difference Between Internal Culture And Internal Branding?
Whilst they are similar in many aspects, there are key differences between internal branding and internal culture. Internal culture is something which is grown (usually organically) within a company. As we have said in many articles, there is no such thing as no internal culture, it just exists. Whether it is strong or weak does vary on the precise company and how much time and effort they put into developing their culture and the personalities within it.
With this in mind, internal branding can be used to support an internal culture. Where internal culture forges the basis for how a company interacts with one another within the walls of the organisation, internal branding solidifies the belief in that culture to create something indestructible. Where culture can come naturally, internal branding needs to be manufactured to create something truly unique.
There is a philosophy to this method of uniting people founded, astonishingly enough, around 500BC. The philosopher Heraclitus stated that the world is made up of base concepts, one not being able to live without the other. This is the same case with internal branding and internal culture. When instigated they feed off each other, creating something amazing that staff can truly get behind. They create a world for the staff to thrive in.
Internal branding, for small companies, may seem not necessarily worth it, however, it soon gains momentum when companies grow to become something much bigger. Once a business is of a certain size it becomes necessary to have an internal culture to help manage human resources and make people feel like parts of a greater whole.
The Psychology Behind Internal Branding
The psychology behind internal branding is actually remarkably complex and yet vital to the understanding of employees, if not mankind in general.
The above diagram is called the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, developed by Abraham Maslow in his 1954 book Motivation and Psychology. Maslow spent years developing the concept, the idea that in order for human beings to be happy we need to fulfil our needs from the physiological desires of food, drink, sleep (etc.) to understanding what we are and who we are. This concept has a basis in both philosophy and psychology.
Looking at the Hierarchy of Needs it is easy to attribute the work environment to each and every step.
Self-actualisation refers neatly to complete job satisfaction and the knowledge that what a person is doing is worth it. Esteem comes into being when knowledge of self worth is gained, often by receiving gratification from others. Safety can be money security or environment stability and physiological needs are those relating to physical needs such as food and drink (or in the work environment coffee and biscuits). Where internal culture and branding come in is at the level of love and belonging. Employees need to feel needed, they want to feel wanted, they desire to feel desired. This is both for self worth and the worth of the community as a whole.
Since it can be broken down into one of the fundamental needs of life it can be seen that a positive internal culture and good internal branding are essential to the happiness of a member of staff.
How Should Internal Branding Be Used?
Internal branding is a support system for internal culture. When an organisation wants an incredibly strong internal culture or wants to give their staff additional support then an internal brand comes into play. The branding gives staff something to unite under, rallying them to the greater cause of the company by having strong values and a mission that employees buy into and live their working lives by. What the company stands for in terms of integrity is extremely important. A brand that offers good, well thought-out beliefs and values - including development for staff and a great working environment - encourage staff ownership and belonging which in turn promotes a happy working environment. This can be something as simple as a self-development program or support throughout the working environment to something far more official and impressive, all aimed to strengthen the bond between company and employee.